MAUERTOWN, VA. -- The Shenandoah County supervisors are considering closing the only remaining county-supported poorhouse in the state.
The seven residents of the county farm near Maurertown say they don't want to go.
"I had a rough life where I was at before," said Guy Finks, 67, who has been living at the farm 20 years. "I came here and I like it. They're friendly to me. I hope I can stay here."
A cost of $91,100 has been proposed to keep the 200-year-old farm operating for another year as it is.
But the board estimates it will cost several hundred thousand dollars to make needed repairs and install sprinkler and fire warning systems, which are required to be in place by July 1991 to meet new state standards.
"I ain't going to a home," resident Ernest Barb, 70, said.
"I like this place. I like it just fine," he said.
The county has considered closing the farm in each of the last two decades, most recently in the mid-1980s, when nearly 20 people lived there.
Each time, there has been enough public outcry to prevent the action.
County officials recognize only five of the seven occupants as qualified residents and are now facing a tight budget as they try to find money for school construction.
Those who stay at the farm must turn over a percentage of their Social Security benefits and, if they work, income to help defray costs.
"I don't want it to close, that's for sure," said Dorothy Pence, 61, a resident of the farm since the age of 3.
"I would appreciate it if they'd keep this place open for the old folks. I'd appreciate it a lot," she said.
Pence and her stepsister, Virginia Spence, 64, say they're afraid of what life would be like for them if the farm were closed.
Spence briefly left the farm for an adult home nearby, but she said she returned because "they don't feed you right over there."
Delford Keckley, who operates the facility for the county, said Department of Social Services officials once removed Finks from the farm because they felt he needed 24-hour supervision.
But Finks, who has Parkinson's disease, returned to the farm after brief stays in two other homes.
Barb said he might be able to move in with his daughter-in-law in Warrenton. But he said he hasn't heard from her "for quite a long time now."
"I think I can find a place somewhere, I guess," said Barb.
He said he enjoys taking long walks on the farm, working in the garden and helping keep the place clean. He said he's afraid he'll be more restricted if he has to move.
"I like to be in a place where I can be free, where I can get out by myself and come and go as I please," Barb said. "You can't blame me for that, can you?"