In October, NiSource managers told Burford and 20 other people in his
accounting department that they had one week to decide whether to take a
job with the company in Ohio. Burford was one of four who accepted the
NiSource gave him a promotion for accepting. The company will also pay
for the couple's moving expenses and home-buying closing costs. This
Mountains to cornfields
Jay and Jennifer, both 26, met at St. Albans High School and went to
West Virginia State College together. They married during their junior
year in college.
He graduated as a certified public accountant. She majored in nuclear
medicine, but stays at home with Sam during the day.
The St. Albans area is the only place the Burfords have lived. Their
1,300-square-foot house off Coal River Road is for sale for $69,900.
Inside their small house, they bump into each other during frozen pizza
dinners. Across the street, a neighbor has several boats parked in his
"We're out of the city limits and you can't get any help, you know,
when dogs are barking or people don't mow their grass. There's nothing you
can do," Jennifer said.
In Columbus, they will live in a four-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot house
with cathedral ceilings. Their subdivision has a stone pillar entrance and
a sign that says: "Reserve at Ashbrook." It's surrounded by rolling hills
waiting to be carved into other subdivisions with $200,000 homes.
Jennifer likes the new house and Ashbrook's homeowners association. She
welcomes the strict rules about fences, paint and yards.
If they stayed in St. Albans, Sam would go to Lakeview Elementary. But
Lakeview Elementary is one of the schools in KanawhaCounty
that's scheduled to close because old people in St. Albans now far
In Columbus, "they're building new schools all around," Jay said.
"They sent us all the statistics on passing rates, and it's wonderful
... in our town it's like 93 percent," Jennifer said.
Jay's biggest worry about the move is that Jennifer will be lonely. He
will have to work overtime at his new job. Their parents and all their
friends live in St. Albans. Several times a week, Jennifer totes Sam to
his grandparents' house.
"Big to me is scary," Jennifer said. "I like that it's a small town and
a lot of people know each other and in high school you knew everybody."
Jay will miss West Virginia's forests and rivers where he hunts and
fishes for trout. Unlike his wife, he's not enamored with the fresh-cut
lawns of Columbus. "It's amazing to see the cornfields turn into
One day maybe they might move back to the Mountain State, Jay said. "If
they had more high-paying jobs. Focus on bringing more young people here
and keeping the young people here ..." his voice trailed off. "The same
old story you always hear."
To contact staff writer Kelly Regan, use e-mail or call 348-5163.