From the desk of Mike Dabney
by: Mike Dabney
Dateline: Harrisburg, Poinsett County Courthouse. Circuit/Chancery Judge David Laser ruled on July 24 after a contested hearing that William McCoy's salvage yard near Tyronza constitutes a public nuisance that needs to be abated, ended, and that Mr. McCoy has violated the Arkansas Highway Beautification Act in its operation.
Judge Laser ordered that Mr. McCoy effectively screen his operation by November 1, so that it is not visible from Highway 63, at his own expense. If he does not do that, and continues operation, the state can file a petition to cite him for contempt of court. That could lead to fine and imprisonment. The trick is to keep the State involved actively.
The Judge commented in his oral Order that the State having filed this action in January 1999 had not vigorously prosecuted the action. Their attorney in this hearing, Larry Jackson, of Marion, ably represented the State, although he had just been assigned the case two days before the hearing. This speaks well of Larry but not so well of his supervising attorneys.
An aside between me and you is that if an operation as seriously unsightly as Mr. McCoy's is delayed more than two years by dilatory State attorneys, maybe you and I as the public need to do some serious squeaking, complaining, knowing that is it the squeaky wheel that gets greased. Responsive attorneys in the Highway Department? Wishful thinking? Maybe we will get what our tax money is supposed to pay for. Mr. McCoy was served with the Court papers more than two years ago, and has in essence had a free ride until Judge Laser got a hold of him today. I will provide you with an address for the state highway attorneys and a phone in my next column for those of you who want to squeak, and make sure they stay on top of Mr. McCoy's screening process. Pat Mr. Jackson on the back, too, maybe he needs to be the new supervisor.
Steve Wilcoxon of First Delta Bank, and President of the Marked Tree Chamber of Commerce, was kind enough to testify on one day's notice, for the State. He said that Mr. McCoy's operation was an eyesore drawing many complaints, and was a hardship on the community in attracting new residents and businesses. He said that as we try to market our area as a bedroom community to Jonesboro and Memphis, quality of life is important to present to the public. The upshot was that Mr. McCoy's operation was a discouraging thing for the traveling public to see, and hampers our efforts to sell our Tri-Cities area.
Mr. McCoy testified that he had made some efforts at screening, with other vehicles. He did not build a fence because he thought the new state road would take the fence and some of his property anyway. He learned later, however, that there would be no service road.
I have also heard, although I do not know for a fact, that there may be enough petroleum products buried over there, that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality people should take a look. They could do much more than just require a screen. One gentleman told me before the hearing that he has witnessed dumping. Another reason to squeak.