Vol 7 No. 30 - April 18, 2007

News hits widowed park resident hard
Cortez Trailer Park widow
Lorraine Yount of the Cortez Trailer Park.

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ - In 1967, "Camelot" hit the big screen with its dream of an idyllic kingdom, while "The Andy Griffith Show" made Mayberry the favorite small town of the small screen.

In the 40 years since Lorraine Yount moved to the Cortez Trailer Park, it has become Camelot, Mayberry and more to her.

"Trailer parks are where neighbors keep track of and take care of each other," said Yount, 88, one of more than 100 elderly residents facing eviction. "That's a trailer park thing. They don't have that anyplace else."

The eviction threat stems from park owner Butch Howey, who wrote residents last month that he is considering a $10.8 million offer from a developer for the five-acre property on the Intracoastal Waterway. He has not returned telephone calls seeking comment on the sale.

The homeowners, who rent the land under their trailers, offered him the same amount and their trailers, offered him the same amount and initiated the financing process, but Howey declined to accept their offer.

His parents, who sold him the park, still live there themselves.

"It's very, very upsetting," said Yount, adding that she met Butch when he was a boy, and has treated him as the son she never had. "I could be out on the street."

Over the past 40 years, Yount explained, the rising cost of living has dwindled her savings account down to a couple thousand dollars, and she lives on about $1,000 a month from Social Security. She sold her car because she couldn't afford the insurance, but her neighbors and a daughter in Sarasota have made it possible for her to continue living independently.

If the park is sold, she will still own her trailer, but without a lot under it, and without the add-ons, which cannot be moved, it will be virtually worthless.

"What's the market for a 50-year-old trailer?" she asked, adding that the $2,000 or so she could receive from the state if she is evicted from her trailer wouldn't go far.

"I'm not alone," said Yount, who has been a widow for 16 years. "There's others in here like that, but they don't want to admit it. I'm embarrassed to admit it myself."

Yount is recovering from a recent injury at a Sarasota rehabilitation center, and fears that if the park sells before she recovers, she will have to move to an undesirable assisted living facility.

"She would have to go into a Medicaid home," said her daughter, Josette Rae, adding that she would ask her mother to move in with her, but she travels in her work and cannot afford to hire a fulltime caregiver.

"She thought she could sell her home when the time came and be able to afford a decent assisted care center," Rae said, adding that she received an offer on her trailer some time ago for more than $80,000. "That's not going to happen now."

Yount has fought and survived cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but this fight goes more than skin deep.

"I still love Butch," Yount said. "But I don't see why he should do this to his folks and to people who love him."

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