Unpleasantville

She agrees that there seems to be more illness in Hayden than seems normal. "Every time you turn around and someone has some form of cancer," she says, "it's a worry in everyone's mind." Both Hinojos' mother and her aunt died of the disease.

She also says there are nights when the air is thick with smog from the plant and you can taste something like chemicals in the back of your throat. "It's not often, but it does happen," she says.

Despite that, she's not planning on suing.
Hinojos was forced to move away from Winkelman after the flood in 1993. She lived in relocation housing in San Manuel. "I hated it," she says. "I chose to come back."

Hinojos says this is her home, and she's going to live with whatever comes of her choice. "I think we all live in a place where there's some kind of contamination. We all chose to live here. The company is here. We made that decision. They chose to take a stand and file a lawsuit. I choose to live here. It's my home. Whatever comes, comes."

There is one rebuttal the people of Hayden have to any arguments about their fight against the company: the town's cemetery, six acres and 1,500 plots large.

This is where they have buried their relatives and friends, their parents and children. Teresa Olmos buried her stillborn son here. Betty Amparano buried her mother and father, the grandparents of Jill.

They say the cemetery is just too big for a town as small as Hayden, and too many people end up there too soon.

"I see people just waste away," Olmos says. "They never get away from it. They live here and work here and die here. . . . What good does it do to have economic development when people end up leaving in caskets?"

There have been other rumblings about lawsuits in the past, but people around here seem to know a different kind of storm is brewing.

"If they win, I'll be happy for them," Annie Hinojos says. "But it's going to be a long road. ASARCO is a big company. . . . I think it [the lawsuit] is going to divide the family and be around for a long time."

Contact Chris Farnsworth at 229-8430 or his online address: cfarnsworth@newtimes.com

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