Smithfield: Opinion

CSX wants to uproot a community

I read your Jan. 31 column, “Dialogue is missing from CSX debate,” and felt compelled to respond.

In September 2012, I moved from Raleigh back home to Pittman Road near Selma. My reason for moving back at 54 years old was not because I loved the area but because my elderly parents needed me closer to them. I found a little house to rent and was surrounded by people I had known my entire life, people who had never considered living anywhere else. It was an adjustment. Living here was at a much slower pace. My neighbors paid attention to when I left, when I came back, whose car was in my driveway. They were not being nosy. I had to remind myself that they were just being neighbors, because that’s how it is here in this part of the world.

On Jan. 14, residents of this small community were told they had 60 days to vacate the property they had lived on their entire lives. These are people who have never lived anywhere else; this is all they know. My parents are 85 and 87; the thought of moving anywhere except the family cemetery had never been considered. And by the way, the cemetery would be taken by the Department of Transportation when it expanded the roads to accommodate the traffic associated with the new CSX hub.

I know and appreciate that Johnston County needs jobs, and CSX has promised that there will be many associated with this project. Family members and friends have worked for CSX for many years, and it has afforded them good lives. Because of my family history with CSX and Seaboard Coastline, I know that before a new employee is hired for the better jobs, a dedicated and hardworking CSX employee is relocated to fill that job. I have family members who were moved four times with the railroad. Local people would be given construction jobs that would be short-term only.

I would like to invite you to come here to our community and see what CSX wants us to sell them. I want you to meet my parents and my neighbors who oppose what others think is a great opportunity for this area. I want you to see what a community looks like that stands together in the face of losing everything they have. I want to make this real for you, not just an article about a few acres in Johnston County that will bring all things wonderful. I hope you will consider coming to see us.

Pam Pittman Manuszak