The Cheshire buyout deal was struck in April of 2002, so when I first visited in June of that year not many people had had the chance to get out. Therefore, I got a good look at the town in its untouched state--a nice little village with one traffic light, a couple of restaurants (including a pizza parlor), a car repair place, and a post office--Cheshire, Ohio 45620. I've been through plenty of towns with less going on than this one.
A trip to Cheshire tells you a lot about how things got to this point. The people here live literally in the shadow of the huge stacks of the James M. Gavin power plant, one of which is extra thick and curved, with an ominous nuclear look to it. (It's actually a cooling tower, and the stuff that it puts out is steam.) They pump out a neverending streamer of thick, white smoke. Driving into town from the south you have to pass just a few feet from the plant.
At this time the AEP case was very much on people's minds. Protest signs were--and are--a common sight in and around town. "Entering pollution zone" and "Quit preying on our children" are two examples you can see below. Not everyone was happy with the settlement, after all.
Click below to see the town as it appeared a year later.