Ephraim mobile home residents without utilities for over three weeks
By Robert Stevens
EPHRAIM—More than a dozen residents in the mobile home park on Ephraim’s Main Street have been without utilities for three weeks after their homes were moved by the property owner.
The residents own mobile homes sitting on a property owned by Kingdom Management LLC, a Cedar City based company, owned by Kolby Pulsipher.
Residents say they knew their homes would be moved to install new utility lines underneath the property, but they were never told they would be on the hook for large reconnection costs they can’t afford, and they never expected their homes might be damaged.
“I am praying to God that it works out,” says Rosa Castro, park resident. “I like it here and I don’t want to have to leave.”
Castro and her husband Jose have lived in the park for 15 years. She says residents knew their homes would be moved and that Kingdom told them they would only be without utilities for three days at most during the process of moving several mobile homes on the north side of the park.
Castro also says she and her husband, and other residents, were never told about the cost to get them reconnected—as much as $1500 or more in reconnection fees and inspection costs. The families of five mobile homes were disrupted in total.
The moving process did not go smoothly, say residents. Castro demonstrated to the Messenger multiple large cracks in her walls; some of them measured several feet across. The cracks were caused from rough handling by Kingdom workers during the process of moving the mobile homes, she says. And her home had three of its tires knocked off in the move.
“This is my home, and it’s very sad,” Castro says.
Another resident’s mobile home was reported to be tipped on its side in the move before being rectified and placed in its final position.
The day of the move, which came abruptly, Castro says, Kingdom required residents to sign a paper giving permission to move the mobile homes and absolving the company of damages during the move. Castro says she was never given a copy.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 5, power wasn’t returned to any of the five mobile homes—a total of 22 days—save for long, orange extension cords running from a nearby power pole through the windows, an option arranged by Kingdom, say some residents, including Castro. The cord was meant to plug into the refrigerator, which is what Castro does, but the rest of her house is a full blackout.
Loss of a gas line connection during the move complicates the situation more, with gas stoves and heaters rendered useless. Castro says the weather has begun to get cold in the morning, and without power she can’t even use an electric heater. She cooks on a propane grill, as do some other residents impacted by the utility cut.
Although water was restored four days after the move, without electricity or gas to heat water, hot showers and laundry aren’t an option.
Lucia Palmarine, a 12-year resident of the park, is feeling the same effects in her household. With no air conditioning the house is hot and stifling during the day. No power means no television, or any reasonable way to charge a cell phone, tablet or laptop. It also means no WiFi, which has prevented some students from doing remote schoolwork, Palmarine says.
Residents say the monetary cost for the residents to reconnect their homes to utilities varies from several hundred dollars to more than $1500 if you include city fees, county fees and the cost of an inspector to come in and confirm there are no gas leaks when reconnecting after the move, which Palmarine says is being required. She says she has lived in the home years without a gas leak and, since the move, inspectors have already found a leak.
Ephraim City released a statement to the Messenger about the situation at the mobile home park, saying construction delays in the project to upgrade the utility infrastructure of the park had delayed restoration of those utilities, and that the city wanted to work with Kingdom and the residents to help resolve the dispute over the disconnection and reconnection of their utilities, and the responsibilities related to them.
“Our foremost concern is the safety of our residents,” said Mayor John Scott. “While as a city we are limited on what we can do in navigating personal property rights issues, we felt we needed to step in to assist our residents. We are concerned about them and want to make certain they have access to the basic necessities they need.”
During a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, city leaders met with Pulsipher to discuss the conditions of the mobile home park and how to establish a plan moving forward.
“We are hopeful that the owner now has a plan and the tools needed to bring about a satisfactory resolution,” Scott said. “These are things that just need to be taken care of.”
City leaders said Kingdom was working with Dominion Energy to restore gas service “as soon as possible” and that the upgrades are now complete and utilities are ready to hook up again.
“Safety is our bottom line,” Mayor Scott said. “We appreciate everyone involved for working together to get this matter straightened out and moving in a forward direction.”
Castro and Palmarine say residents plan to meet with Ephraim City this week to sign applications for reconnection of power. Restoration of gas, at least for Palmarine, will depend on a pass from the inspector after the discovery and repair of her leak.