Ky. Widow Fights to Save Longtime Family Home from New Highway Plan: ‘It’s a Small House, but to Me It’s a Mansion’

“I mean, if [they] want to build the road, that’s fine. But just leave me alone,” homeowner Janet Arnett said



A Salyersville, Kentucky, woman is fighting to save her home of 55 years after learning county officials are planning to demolish it in order to develop a new highway.

Janet Arnett told CBS affiliate WYMT that she found out her longtime residence would be destroyed at a Magoffin County community meeting when it was revealed that a planned highway project — called Mountain Parkway Expansion — would pass right through the middle of her property.

“I’m 76. You know, I’m not gonna be around too much longer,” Arnett told the outlet. “Why can’t I stay here in the house? My house.” She added, “It’s a small house, but to me it’s a mansion.”

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The widow said her family purchased the 63-acre property in Salyersville in 1969 and that she and her late husband, Lowell Arnett, built a permanent home on it in 1998. After raising their children there, it has since become a gathering space for her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“This was our epicenter of our family,” Arnett’s granddaughter, Zoe Parker, told WYMT. “And Mamaw’s house will always be Mamaw’s house — whether it’s right where it is or it’s down near the road. But it’s tough if Mamaw’s house gets bulldozed.”

“We don’t want her to be collateral damage for a project that has been in the works for years,” Arnett’s daughter, Lanessa DeMarchis, added.

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According to the New York Post, Arnett was first told the expansion might cut through part of her property.

But now, the new segment will consist of a “four-lane, undivided, limited access highway that spans from US 460 in Salyersville (Magoffin County) to KY 404 in Prestonsburg (Floyd County)” and will run right through her home.

Arnett told WYMT that no amount of money that the county offered for her house would suffice as the memories inside the home were too important to destroy.

She also said that she and her family requested that the last segment of the highway expansion be built behind or in front of her home, but claimed that officials told them there were development and structural issues that would make that impossible.

They also proposed moving the home from its current location to a lower section of the property, but was reportedly told by officials that wouldn’t be doable because there wouldn’t be room for a septic tank to be installed.

“I mean, if [they] want to build the road, that’s fine. But just leave me alone,” Arnett told WYMT. “Build it in front of me; build it behind me. You know, I just want to stay at my house. Here.”

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The family said they also reached out to Gov. Andy Beshear, state and county representatives and transportation board members, but haven’t found any real solutions to the issue.

In the meantime, they have set up a petition and have launched an online campaign to fight for Arnett’s home to stay.

“For us to see her go through that, it breaks our heart,” DeMarchis said. “I mean, it’s almost unimaginable what they’re putting her through right now. So, we’re just asking for them to think what it really means.”

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