NORTH HEBRON, N.Y. (WNYT) – Kathalene Tompkins, 80, has lived in the same farm house on 11 acres of land in North Hebron, New York for 42 years. She raised her family there, she collected a lifetime of memories and she wants to live out the rest of her years there.
Late last week, remaining on the land was uncertain.
“We were getting ready to move because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” she says, “We really didn’t know where we were going to go because my son has a lot of animals.”
Figuring out what to do, and finding a new place for about 100 animals was just one of the many troubling things for the Tompkins.
When Kathalene’s husband died, she and her family fell on hard times. She fell behind by three years on their property taxes. And on Saturday morning, the county was about to auction off their farm property, which meant they would have to uproot their lives and find a new place to live.
“By the end of trying to do everything you possibly could, you feel almost like you’re ready to give up or like you don’t have any energy to do it,” said Ken Tompkins, Kathalene’s son.
The Tompkins were one of four families in Washington County who were scheduled to be booted off their land this past weekend. But then, a miracle happened.
“I had not seen anything like this in my career in Washington County in 24 years,” said Al Nolette, the Washington County treasurer.
What Nolette was referring to was another elderly woman, who read a story in the Post Star Newspaper detailing the predicament of the four families were being foreclosed. The woman drove to his office, and wrote out a check for $11,000, which wiped the slate clean for all of the families, and allowed them to remain on their property.
“I actually came down to meet the individual just to make sure things were on the up and up,” Nolette says, “You don’t see this every day.”
Nolette says the woman, who wants to remain anonymous, cashed in her husband’s life insurance policy, and did “what my husband would have wanted me to do with the money.”
The Tompkins, although skeptical when they first heard the good news, now see it as a miracle.
“I feel wonderful,” Kathalene exclaimed, “I think she’s an angel. I knew there were kind people out there. I owed quite a bit.”
“I know there’s people out there that would help out and stuff,” Ken says, “but this day and age you don’t see as many as you used to.”
As of late Wednesday afternoon, Nolette says he’s only been able to contact one of the four families whose property was saved. He’s hoping those families didn’t already pack up and move out.