Gene Campbell lives across the way from Beatrice and is a little better off. He has some money in the bank, a new car and a larger SS check. His mother lives with him and he does his best to keep an eye on Beatrice and others like her who are struggling to make ends meet. They call him the Vegetable Man for his abundant garden and generosity in sharing it.
"I just try to fill in a little bit for neighbors here by putting out my vegetables for whoever wants them," he said. "I'd say 98 percent of the people here are on Social Security and nothing else. It's tough for them … I just try to help out where I can."
And help is a commodity that some of the population here says is in short supply. Recent changes in management have sparked a controversy among residents who say they are being forced out by inappropriate rent increases and unfair bylaws, and the owners who say they are merely trying to keep the park from falling into disrepair. A few residents have even circulated a petition and delivered it to local media in an attempt to shed some light on what they view as an unfair and discriminatory situation.
"We've had two rent increases of $35 each in one year," said Marge (who asked that her last name be withheld) a 60-year-old disabled resident of the park. "That's a lot of money for people like us. I was also told I had to make repairs on a fence in my yard or they (management) would do it for me and bill me. I don't even own this property. Why should I have to make the repairs?"
"Ever since the new owner took over, I've had problems, too," said White. "I've had wild animals under my house and no one comes out to help me. And yes, the rent increases do make me nervous. I only have my Social Security."
Rent at the mobile home park ranges from $397 to $460 a month depending upon the size of the trailer and lot. That's a few hundred dollars less than neighboring parks, and a number that owner Peter Muller says he is working hard to maintain.
"I'm the Wal-Mart of trailer parks out here," said Muller, who took over ownership of the park from his 90-year-old mother last year. "This place was built in l961 and the majority of these trailers have been here since then. You can't not make repairs on things and expect them to hold up. I'm just trying to keep these people in their homes, and the park from falling apart."
Not so, says Campbell.
"What really gets me is that they tack on $35 and demand that a couple of little old ladies fix their fences for $400," said Campbell. "That's a lot of money for these people and he comes around nitpicking about everything. These people are scared. They're afraid they are going to lose their homes."