Sissonville family rejects Columbia Gas compensation deal - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Sissonville family rejects Columbia Gas compensation deal

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The one key the McMillions have to their property unlocks a gate to what used to be their home. But the only thing still standing is a row of chicken coops.

"This has been very difficult," said Shirley McMillion, of Sissonville. "Our lives are basically on hold. All we want is another house and cars. We want compensated."

Shirley and her husband, Denver, lived on a property off Interstate 77, near the Pocatalico exit.

Their land sits above a transmission line that caused an explosion in Sissonville last December. The owner of that line, NiSource's Columbia Gas Transmission, has worked with the families affected to reach settlement deals. 

The McMillions rejected their offer on Monday and have hired a lawyer to help them continue with negotiations.

"We take that settlement, and we lose $200,000, easy," said Denver McMillion. "I don't want to pay taxes on everything I already owned and paid taxes again on."

He said the family lost two cars, a home, and a lifetime of memories. At the time of the explosion, nine people lived within the home; several of Denver and Shirley's children and grandchildren lived there but none were home at the time of the blast.

But the family said they feel the gas company is not taking full responsibility for the damaged caused by the explosion.

"It's their fault, they should pay for us getting us back started again," Denver said.

In response, a representative from NiSource issued this statement Tuesday:

"Columbia is committed to helping the residents of Sissonville impacted by the incident and doing the right thing. We have been actively working with affected residents and will work as long as necessary to help these families' lives return to normal."

But for the McMillions, normal seems impossible.

"The emotional state my mom's in, she's about to have a breakdown at any time," said Serena McMillion. "And the gas company keeps playing mind games with them is how I feel about it."

"We just want our life back," Shirley said. "I feel like we're so up in the air and we don't know what to do. I don't think that's too much to ask for and I want them to assume the responsibility."

The McMillions said previous offers with the company stipulated that they had to pay taxes on the compensation.

Since the explosion, the nine family members have been staying in hotel rooms paid for by the company. Shirley said she believes the Columbia will foot the bill until mid-February.

They add their interactions with land agents have been less than pleasant; a NiSource spokesperson said she couldn't comment on the nature of these dealings at this time.