Eminent Domain may strike close to home

For the first time in my life I am personally impacted by faceless government bureaucrats threatening to exercise the awesome power of Eminent Domain.  Allow me to explain:

In 1819 my Great-great grandfather brought his family from South Carolina and settled in a region of South-east Georgia known as the Sand Hills.  The area where they lived their remaining lives was at one time or another part of Liberty County, McInstosh County, and finally in 1920 it became Long County.  As with any family, there were descendants who moved with their families to other regions of Georgia or on into to Florida, but there remains a core group of family that continues to inhabit the same area (and even the same house originally built in 1819) until today. 

When a family lives in the same general area for nearly two hundred years they tend to create cemeteries and small family plots throughout the region.  Our family, and other families just like ours with histories in that part of the country, obviously has deep roots with the soil well enriched with the bones of our ancestors. 

Along comes a Marine Corps Colonel at MCAS Beaufort SC who oversees the air wing units stationed there.  He wants a place for his pilots to practice dropping precision guided bombs without sending them across to the West Coast.  Perfectly understandable I suppose.  Modern day Long County Georgia currently has a 5,000 acre facility (equating to roughly 8 square miles) that is owned by the Marines and run day-to-day by the Georgia National Guard.  The Marine Colonel is adamant that this facility is much too small to practice with “precision” guided weapons!  And even though Fort Stewart Army base in neighboring Liberty County is more than adequate to conduct such bombing practice, the Marine Colonel has expressed the sentiment that coordinating with Army brass is just too difficult. 

So the offshoot of all this is that the existing Long County Bombing Range is going to be expanded roughly seven-fold to encompass nearly 48 square miles of Long County – and all those folks living on that land will be forced out, and paid “fair value” by Uncle Sugar.  Then maybe the Marine brass will be happy with their new giant bombing range that they can use to practice their “precision” bombing runs more conveniently. 

Of course there will a multitude of family plots and cemeteries that will be gobbled up in the process.  The properties, if not blown to smithereens at some point, will be forever out of reach of their living relatives.  My own family cemetery with 250 graves will likely end up right on the boundary line of the new enlarged range – and less than a half mile from a target area.  And I know of at least three smaller family plots that will be on the wrong side of the governments’ fence. 

Now the Imperial Federal Gubmint has gone most of the way thru its dog and pony show designed to make the locals feel like they have a voice in the matter.  But it’s most likely that the Colonel at Beaufort Air Station will ultimately get his new toy. 

Of course the impact for the living will be far worse.   I have access to is an engineering consultant (and distant cousin) who works for the Fort Stewart bombing range, and he tells me that another serious problem will be the lost tax revenue base if too many displaced residents elect to leave the county altogether.  There’s serious concern that the small-town county seat will be bankrupted and lose its town charter.  Now far be it from me to decry the destruction of any sort of government unit; but I’d sure rather have a small town government in place rather than another outpost of the Federal Imperial Gubmint to deal with!
If this actually comes to pass, it will be an exceedingly bitter pill to swallow to lose access to the graves of my ancestors.  I am not among those folks who have no concern for the past.  I am instead deeply proud of my family and can point to an unbroken patriarchal lineage stretching back 24 generations all the way to the year 1396 in western Wales.  For me - this is some serious sh*t.