Some Melrose Township residents facing pre-Christmas evictions

Turtle Lake Trace residents — from left, Carolyn Dunivin, Greg Griffin and Bob Spillman — talk about the eviction noticed they received the day after Thanksgiving. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Nov. 26, 2012 6:08 pm Updated: Dec. 10, 2012 8:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Carolyn Dunivin didn't know Monday afternoon if she would be homeless come Christmas.

A 23-year resident of the Turtle Lake area in Melrose Township just south of Quincy, Dunivin was one of 19 residents to be served eviction notices over the weekend. Those who received the notices were given 30 days to vacate their property.

For Dunivin, that meant giving up her modified double-wide trailer on Dec. 23 -- two days before Christmas.

"This is all I've got in life right here," Dunivin said while fighting through tears. "My house and my Jeep."

The property owner, Cleatis Langan of Clayton, hired Quincy attorney Don Heck to present the eviction notices.

"All I know is that she wants possession of the property," Heck said.

The Turtle Lake area is primarily made up of trailers, many of which have been modified and would be nearly impossible to move to a new site. Residents said they pay $100 per year rent and any property taxes to live there.

Several residents congregated at Dunivin's trailer on Monday morning to talk about what is next for them.

"There's something missing here," Greg Griffin, who has lived in the Turtle Lake area for 35 years, said. "Why are they running everybody out?"

Attempts to reach Langan were unsuccessful on Monday. Heck said he didn't know why Langan was asking for the residents to move.

Bob Spillman's family has lived in the area since the 1960s.

"My dad died over there in 1983," he said, pointing to his property across the lake from Dunivin's trailer. "I moved here in 1983, because I like living down here in the country, having a garden and it's quiet and all that. My wife died over there, too."

Spillman, who retired after working for 45 years at what is now Titan Wheel, hopes to place a trailer on two acres of land that his sister owns nearby. He said he would have to get clearance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency before placing a trailer in the floodplain.

Spillman was the only one in the room with good news. He was told by Heck that since his rent is paid up through June that he'll have time to figure out where to move next.

"At least I have until June," he said. "I talked to (Heck) about my 30 days deal, because that scared me to death."

Dunivin's rent has been paid through May, but she was under the assumption that her days in Turtle Lake are numbered. Heck said that as long as the person's rent is paid, they can stay until it is due again.

"She won't accept any new rent," he said of Langan. "If they're paid up, she doesn't want them out until they have rent due again."

More than anything else, the residents want answers to why they'll all eventually have to move.

"Nobody down here is going to take anyone's land," said Griffin, who admitted that he is behind on his rent. "We just want a reasonable time to move."