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New high-voltage Entergy line raises health concerns

A high-voltage power line going up in Benton has landowners fuming at the health risks involved.
BENTON, AR - Just feet away from a popular Benton ballpark, hundreds of children play on Jimmy and Missy Partridge's acreage every weekend. But now, they're saying no more.

"I don't want those kids back there anymore but Entergy don't care," said Jimmy Partridge.

Entergy, Arkansas is building a high-voltage power line straight through the Partridge's prized piece of land.

"What bothers me is they don't care about the kids," said Partridge.

Researchers have casually linked high-voltage power lines to Leukemia in young children. Scientists say the studies are weak, but not unfounded.

"That power station that they're wanting to get and that one route is not worth one kid developing leukemia or brain cancer," said Partridge.

"The final route was chosen with approval from Benton Utilities, Benton city officials and of course finally by the Public Service Commission in Arkansas," said Sally Graham with Entergy.

When asked to confirm the approval over the phone, Mayor David Mattingly said, "I have no comment," and quickly hung up. Benton city attorney Brent Houston said "it's the mayor's position he did not approve the placement of the line," and the General Manager of Benton Utilities "had more involvement with the line's location than the Mayor's office did."

Utilities Manager Terry McKinney said he approved the electrical infrastructure of the line but "didn't look at it as far as it's relation to the houses and parks that would be affected," adding, "that's Entergy's responsibility".

"All they do is pass the buck," said Partridge. "No one knows anything."

The Partridge's were offered $850 for their land and trees. They've denied the offer and say they're willing to take the issue from the ballpark to the courtroom.

Entergy says in May they gave the city the opportunity to move the line but no one acted. McKinney says that's because it would have cost the city $300,000 to get Entergy to move it.

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