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Daniel made sure he had picked up an extra copy of the archaeological site report and set off for Mulberry Creek. He had always been fond of Lola, and he could tell that Winona had survived fame and fortune remarkably well, so he looked forward to the walk and dinner. He was bringing a bottle of wine and, as a housewarming gift, two carvings he had just completed: a pair of chipmunks.
He arrived at 5:04, just as Jamie Olson was leaving. Jamie was the reporter for the Owassee Sentinel and had written an article several weeks earlier about the sisters’ plans to establish a therapeutic equestrian camp for children with autism. The story was done well and featured several local parents who talked about what a difference it could make for their children.
Daniel collected the items he’d brought and got out of the truck. When Lola stepped from the porch he could see she was distraught.
“Bad news, Daniel. You will not believe what’s happening across the road.”
Winona suggested, “We can walk over there and you’ll see what they’ve done so far.”
The three of them walked up Mulberry Creek Road and around a sharp bend. Daniel was shocked. It looked like a bomb had been dropped. Jagged, broken trees were strewn in every direction along a rough path dozed deep into the woods.
“Are they starting to log this land?”
“If only,” Lola said ruefully.
Winona pointed to a big sign just up the road:
Thunder Holler Partners, LLC
Opening Summer 2001
Winona continued, “The dozers showed up yesterday morning and they’ve been going non-stop. We had no idea anyone had plans for something like this.”
Daniel shook his head. “That explains the new bridge. Now it adds up.”
Lola agreed, “You were right about Clayton Thorpe. We called Jamie Olson as soon as we saw the sign and he’s been asking lots of questions. Thunder Holler Partners has an option to purchase the land if it’s suitable for a track. They're digging around to see how much rock is in the way. They want to build an oval speedway for the cars and a several other tracks for dirt-bikes.”
“This is terrible. Horses don’t do well with all that noise and commotion, do they?”
“Not at all,” said Winona. “If these people come in and do what they’re talking about, there’s no way we could run a camp here.”
“After all the hard work you’ve put into the old farm. Tell me, who’s behind this? Thunder Holler Partners? Who’s that?”
Lola said, “Jamie found out that it’s Dewaine Dewitt, Pam Jackson and at least one other partner from out-of-town: Leonard Reynolds. Apparently, Reynolds has all kinds of connections in the racing business, grew up with the Waltrips, that kind of thing.”
Winona added, “They have until the end of the year to complete the purchase. There’s a chance they could run into rock, and the site preparation would become so expensive that they’d just walk away from the deal. But they wouldn’t be spending all this money unless they were fairly certain it would work out.”
“We’ve already talked to some of the people who’ve been helping us with the farm. They’re organizing a meeting next week and looking into the possibility of a court injunction or environmental regs we could use to stop this.”
Daniel thought for a minute. “There aren’t any county restrictions against race tracks, I assume. I know those folks on Sweetwater Branch couldn’t stop the asphalt plant from setting up shop in their neighborhood back in ’95.”
Winona broke in, “That’s all we know so far. Let’s go back to the house and enjoy our supper. I’ve been cooking all afternoon, and it won’t take me much longer to have everything ready.”
[to be continued]
From The Owasssee Prophecy, by E. G. Paine