WHSV has been following the story of the proposed off-roading park in Rockingham County. We were out with Doug Pence, taking a look at the results of a 4x4 rally yesterday on the property.
Things became more interesting when Kelly Straughen Jr., the property owner, showed up on the scene.
Residents fear oil from the trucks at the 4x4 rally might end up in the local stream. While Doug Pence surveyed the tire tracks from the day before, we ran into Mr. Straughen. He was putting up no trespassing signs because of threats he said he received the day before. And the chance meeting became a dialogue.
"From your viewpoint that's not really a big deal for oil to get into the environment, because it's going to take care of itself," says Pence, the son-in-law of an adjacent neighbor.
"If you want to make me out as an evil person like that you go right ahead," responds Straughen. "I don't need to insult anybody or insult their intelligence or anything like that. But my people have the right to cross my creek bed just the same as you have the right to cross yours."
From the heated start, after an hour of discussion, the two agreed to have neighbors over to look at what goes on in one of the rallies and what steps Straughen had taken to make them safe. A handshake later and both were on their way.
"One person can't speak for an entire community," explains Pence. "The community needs to take him up, take Mr. Straughen up on his offer and come out and see it for themselves."
Straughen said he wished his neighbors hadn't signed a petition against the park before they learned all the details. But at least the two sides are willing to talk now, so maybe there's hope of a resolution.