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Shekinah Mennonite community to see impact from Ameren

A number of landowners have been very vocal in regard to their feelings toward the Ameren Mark Twain Transmission Project. However, due to religious beliefs, some members of the community have not discussed how they will be impacted.

One of the proposed routes for the Ameren Mark Twain Transmission Project would pass right through the heart of the Shekinah Mennonite Community. Located just northeast of Kirksville, is the Shekinah Church and schoolhouse. Over 130 individuals worship at the church, and nearly 50 students attend the school, and the transmission line would pass through the center of the two.

Jason Haxton, the former mayor of Greentop is trying to help the community stop the project.

"I am a neighbor and a spokesperson helping my community. I have no vested interest, my home is not in the path of this line and I am completely out of it. I am just sorry that the people that cannot defend themselves and will not defend themselves are being tromped over by Ameren," said Haxton.

Haxton stresses that the community is worried about the impact the project will have on their land.

"They don't speak out, they don't believe in being aggressive and so Ameren is threatening their homes, their schools, their churches and their land property values. They by nature of their religion cannot speak out," added Haxton.

"I don't think it would be a good thing for our community, but we are not willing to use force to try and stop it, but I don't think it would be in the best interest of the community to have this here," said John Miller, a Shekinah Mennonite School Teacher.

The community has been at the Shekinah site for a decade. Other landowners affected by the transmission line were sent letters by Ameren officials. However, Haxton told KTVO that the Mennonite church did not receive such a letter, citing the possibility that since the religious organization owns the land, Ameren may not have known to contact the Mennonites without having previous knowledge of the community's existence.

"If somebody didn't get a letter that means either there was a mail issue, they aren't on the impacted route, or the tax logs are wrong and that does happen occasionally. It's never our intention to exclude anyone," said Peggy Ladd of the Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois.

Haxton has stayed in contact with Ladd and other Ameren officials. Haxton told KTVO that Ameren claims they were unaware of the community's presence. For now, Shekinah community members are hopeful that Ameren will choose the alternate route.

"They are very concerned and in conversations they don't know what to do. They are praying, and maybe their prayers are what is going to bring the Kirksville community to come and save them," said Haxton.

Ameren officials told KTVO that they will make the final decision for the route by the end of the year. Construction is slated to begin in 2016.

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