ALONG THE WAY: Life near natural gas drilling

By Mike Sever, Staff Writer Published:

The experience of two homeowners in Nelson should be instructional for people living in the vicinity where large, natural gas wells are being drilled.

The two Frazier Road residents, Natalie Baker and Beckie Dean, said they endured months of noise — day and night, weekends as well as weekdays — while drillers worked. They were unable to open their windows and their homes vibrated from the noise of the drilling rig. Recordings they made of the noise and vibration are startling.

Eventually, cracks started appearing in plaster board walls and foundation blocks. Dean said her insurance company’s inspector said damage was caused by the airborne vibration from the machinery.

The homeowners discovered that neither of their insurance policies covered the damage.

Complaints about the excessive noise fell on deaf ears (no pun intended) at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for months until Dean called the office of Gov. John Kasich. That got an ODNR inspector out, but not before the drilling company managed to muffle the sources of the noise and vibration, Dean said.

The whole incident raises several issues. Do residents have any protections from excessive noise under the state’s rules regulating gas and oil drilling? Who is responsible for fixing damage caused by drilling?

Baker and Dean wanted their story told to warn homeowners to get prepared before drilling starts — to take photos and video of their property to document its condition before damage occurs, and to record the effects of drilling (noise, vibration, smoke, etc.) while it is going on.

Post-election peace

That brief silence you enjoyed Nov. 7 was the lack of campaign ad after campaign ad that Ohioans endured for months this election season. Ohio (and her long-suffering voters) was on the bullseye for the presidential election, drawing aim from dozens of groups trying to influence the election.

Billions of dollars were spent on television and radio ads and direct mailers to voters. Millions more were spent on polling, trying to figure out who was ahead and who was not.

It got so that voters were afraid to pick up the phone or turn on their television.

This was the grand experiment in political influence brought to us by the U.S. Supreme Court and their Citizens United ruling that made it open season on our political system, throwing it open to the highest bidder or the billionaires with the deepest pockets.

That’s the cynical view. The optimistic view is that so little of the strident, fear-mongering advertising actually seemed to work. Voters seemed quite able to sift through the chaff. Or maybe we were so numbed by the avalanche that we just tuned it out?

Maybe by next election the people who funded the special interests will figure out how much money they wasted and do something useful with it instead.

Doing for others

Ready for Christmas yet? I know, I know — you’ve still got left over turkey in the refrigerator and exhaustion from that shopping excursion and now people are rushing you into the holiday spirit.

Well, take a break and think of doing things a bit different this year. Instead of buying into the “buy, buy, buy” mentality, you can get that warm, holiday feeling by volunteering your time or donating your goods or money to help those in need.

There are lots of local groups that could use your help to help others. Many folks, including quite a few in Portage County, are still hurting from the economic bruising of the past four years. Check with the United Way of Portage County for the names of local groups.

And there are other groups that help God’s creatures that can’t speak for themselves — groups like Rose’s Rescue, Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, the Portage Animal Protective League and more.

So, think of making a donation close to home this holiday season.

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  • The drilling site and the residents on Frazier Road are all located in Windham Township.

  • Post-election peace .... Thats right, I need to change the answering machines message, during the "election season" everyone gets the machine and they have one minute to leave a message.

  • You really do need to document buildings and property before they start drilling, and you should do it with a camera that can save the pictures in a native format (IE: Nikon Electronic Format, NEF extension). Why? Because it's beyond most peoples ability to modify/ forge a NEF without leaving very large and obvious footprints. I've been playing with digital photography well over a decade and I wouldn't even attempt to modify a NEF and try presenting it as untouched. ALSO, good pictures can keep you from thinking you're losing your mind. I live on a hill and a gas well went in a couple hundred yards away. I thought I was imagining things till the neighbor and I talked and he asked if I noticed our hill "moved". Slumped actually. Yes, the hill actually "moved". Make sure EVERYTHING is documented.