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Please help save my family's mine from auction

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My name is Anna Jane Smith and I am the owner of the Ace of Diamonds Mine & Campground, LLC in Middleville, NY. This small family business where people come to camp, shop, and search for Herkimer Diamond quartz crystals has been owned and operated by the Smith family since 1957 (a portion of the mine previously operated under the name "Diamond Hill"). Prior to me taking over the family business, the mine was operated by my parents Ted and Anita Smith since 1996, and prior to that by my grandparents Don and Helen Smith. However, my father was actively involved in the business for over 50 years.

For those of you that knew my dad Ted before his unfortunate passing in March 2022, you know he was as much of a landmark at the mine as the steel Herkimer Diamond hanging from the crane at our mine's entrance. My father worked tirelessly 7 days a week, often working as much as 12 hours a day, to improve the mine, campground and gift shop and provide for his family, while also doing his best to make sure everyone had a memorable experience and that nobody left empty handed or disappointed. I, like my father, share his passion for the crystals, mining, and hard work. Although Mom and Pop shops seem to be a dying breed in this modern world, it is my dream to carry on my father's legacy in our hometown for many years to come.

To understand my family's current predicament, I feel it is necessary to provide a bit of the backstory. In March 1995, my grandmother Helen executed a Will Codicil, which would have given the real estate where the mine is located to my father upon her death. This Will coincided with the planned transition of the family business to my parents in 1996. By November 1995, Helen was being treated for a brain lesion and she later suffered a stroke. In July 1997, Helen executed various deeds transferring ownership of the land. My father believed Helen lacked sufficient capacity to execute the deeds, but failed to challenge the transfer out of compassion, because he didn't want his ailing mother dragged through a stressful court proceeding. My father thereby obtained only a 1/3 ownership interest in the land and my uncle Jay Smith ultimately acquired a 2/3 ownership interest. In 2019 my uncle placed his 2/3 ownership interest into a trust, with his two sons Michael and Christopher Smith as trustees. My uncle and cousins have never materially participated in the family business or mining.

Sadly, in April 2021 my uncle's trust filed a lawsuit against my father and I, which seeks partition of the land by way of a public auction. Currently there are multiple active appeals in this case. If I prevail on my initial appeals, I will be provided the opportunity to buy out the trust's 2/3 ownership interest using an appraised valuation of the land. If I do not prevail on those appeals, my remaining appeals argue in the alternative that the land should be physically divided up between the existing owners of the land. If I do not prevail on any of the appeals, then tragically the land (totalling approximately 53 acres) will be sold at public auction to the highest bidder.

Although it is the land that is at risk of auction and not our family business, for obvious reasons it would be impossible for our business to continue operating the mine and campground if we lose the underlying land that it operates upon.

It is difficult to put into words what this land means to me. For me, the mine is not just a place where I run a business. It is my childhood home where I lived from birth until approximately age 5. It was my dad's residence for decades. It was my first apartment where I lived for years while attending college. It is the location of a lifetime of daily memories with my dad, my family, and my friends...the place of countless campfires with friends, the place I learned to drive "stick shift" as a teen with my dog BoBo as co-pilot, where I learned how to mine crystals and run an excavator alongside my dad, and celebrated many birthdays. When I look at the gravel roads and piles of rocks that my dad created, I see more than rubble...I see thousands of hours of hard work, sacrificed weekends and holidays, forgone vacations, and missed family functions. My father put his heart and soul into that place and it is beyond heartbreaking to be on the verge of losing it all.

In the event that we are unable to obtain the right to purchase the mine, or if we are not the high bidder at the auction, or if the mine ends up being physically divided up rather than sold at auction, then I would refund everyone's donations. For anyone that knows me, they know that I am not the type of person who readily asks for help or handouts. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and I would be forever thankful to anyone who is able to help save what I consider to be the miner's equivalent of the "family farm." Thank you in advance for any assistance you are able to provide during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Anna Jane Smith
(Third generation miner)
Ace of Diamonds Mine & Campground, LLC


















































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Anna Smith
Organizer
Fairfield, NY

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