Norfolk, Va. - Howard Everton, the owner of Norva Plastics, started as a teenage floor sweeper and later came to own the company. He grew the company from just a few workers to a crew of 18, sending orders all over the country.
He nearly lost it all when Norfolk tried to take his property, illegally it turns out, to help ODU expand.
“A little guy doesn't have a prayer of a chance, to be honest with you,” says Everton.
But yesterday, Everton joined his attorney and group of business owners celebrating a huge victory. The State Supreme Court ruled Norfolk had no right to seize their properties. Everton was a last-minute joiner to the legal fight. He thought for sure the city would treat him fairly, so he never hired a lawyer. And then he watched helplessly out his back door as neighboring businesses and houses succumbed to a bulldozer.
“Norfolk Machine was the major part of that. There was another little company right there, and there were houses all the way down,” says Everton.
He says he didn't want to stand in ODU's way, but what Norfolk offered him didn't seem fair. Even so, he says he was within hours of throwing in the towel when an ODU lawyer strolled over.
“He told me we're going to own this by the end of 2007 and there's nothing you can do about it. I said, my name is still on the title, and I still own it, so you better get off my property,” says Everton.
The high court said it's still his property.
He still has the broom he started pushing almost 40 years ago to remind him that good things happen when you work hard. And he has an empty lot behind him that shows him what happens when you don't fight for what you believe in.
“I just feel sorry for the other 48 people they ran over,” says Everton.