PICHER - Pat Shuck thought she was prepared for the day the government would offer to buy her home. She had a plan in place and was ready to put it in motion.
On Wednesday, the purchase offer fell short of Shuck's expectations and her plans are on hold. She has 15 days to decide whether she will take the money or stay put.
Shuck, 84 and a widow, planned to move to Tulsa and live out the rest of her life near a long-time friend in what she thought would be comparable housing.
The $45,000 offered to her won't allow her to find comparable housing there, she said. The offer dashed her hopes.
“I am healthy, Shuck said. “I don't know how long this money would last me if I had to rent a home.
Shuck said the dilemma has led to sleepless nights. She said there is also concern for her friends.
“A good friend told me not to buy anything until I had a check in my hand, Shuck said. “I am glad I took his advice. Many people have already purchased houses. I don't know what they are going to do.
Shuck's 1,352 square-foot home was built in 1970 - the same year that James Williams' home was built. The floor plans are identical, according to Shuck.
“Oma Williams and I signed the papers for our homes on the same day, Shuck said as she recalled the year the Cherokee Nation built several small brick homes in the Mineral Heights edition.
In the past 30 years, both families have made property improvements to the properties. Ten years after their home was built, the Shucks enclosed their carport and made it into an attached garage.
The Williams family purchased a 30-year roof and upgraded the heating and cooling unit.
Both are corner lots, though the Williams' lot is larger.
The offers on the properties, however are $10,000 apart.
“I don't understand, Shuck said.
“I don't think I got enough and I don't think he got enough.
James Williams was the first to publicly criticize an offer. Williams was number two on a randomly selected listing of the trust's Priority 1 Group 1 residents to receive an offer.
He said last week that the offer of $55,000 was “not nearly enough money to find comparable housing.
The up-front cash would get him into a home, but he would have to pick up a mortgage payment that he has no desire to have.
As of Wednesday, 26 residents in the Tar Creek Superfund site were presented with offers to purchase their homes - six have accepted their offer.
“There have been no formal rejections, said Sonya Harris, operations manager for the Lead Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust.
The nine-member panel is overseeing a federally funded effort to remove residents from areas considered to be at risk.
Hundreds of homes in Picher, Cardin and Hockerville area are believed to be resting on ground that could subside into voids created by an extensive search for lead and zinc.
Jack Pace, a Picher resident is still waiting for his offer. His approach is different than many.
“I hear so many negative things, Pace said. “But, I am trying to remain positive.
Pace said that, when property has no value, whatever value offered is a blessing.
“I can see both sides, Pace said. “But, I think the trust is doing a good job. I hear so much negativity about the trust and I don't think they deserve it.
Residents, however, are still questioning the appraisal values, how the values compare with each other and how they compare with values documented in a 2005 buyout of families with children 6 years old and under.
A review appraiser who reviewed offers made in the 2005 buyout said last week that the key to the differences in appraisal values can sometimes be attributed to the housing market and the objectivity of the appraiser - but, the most significant factor is likely in the comparables.
Neither Williams nor Shuck were allowed to keep the three comparables presented to them when the offers were made on their property.
Shuck said that that two comparable houses offered for her review were in Commerce and one was taken from Miami.
“None of the homes looked like mine, Shuck said. “They were white, frame homes with big front-porch pillars - the were much older than my home.
On Wednesday, the News-Record asked the trust to release the master addenda - a listing of homes purchased recently in Ottawa County from which appraisers draw property comparisons.
Per the contract with Cinnabar Services Company, the company hired by the trust to appraise properties in the buyout area, comparables are to be made from properties outside of the impact area.
Area residents, including Williams, have expressed concern that comparables drawn from Commerce and Quapaw communities are unfair as those areas have a compromised market value due to their inclusion in the Tar Creek Superfund site.
As of Friday, the trust has refused to release the document. The News-Record is disputing the trust's denial and continues to press J.D. Strong, chief of staff for the secretary of the environment, for the current addenda and the addenda from the 2005 buyout.
Strong is not denying the request for the 2005 addenda, however, the addenda documents cannot be found in the trust's Picher office, according to Harris.
The News-Record attempted to contact with Universal Appraisal Company, which created the addenda in 2005.
Upon an inquiry by phone, a representative of the appraisal office directed all calls regarding the 2005 buyout to J.D. Strong and then abruptly ended the call.