The operator of a trading post in Marble pleaded not guilty earlier this month to a charge of operating an illegal dumping site.
The property, operated by Vic Myers of The Promise, a local ministry, is known by locals as an area where they can trade goods and sometimes receive free items, Myers said recently. Myers was ticketed on June 18 for multiple alleged violations.
According to reports filed by Mike Harp with the Boston Mountain Solid Waste District, several complaints were made by local homeowners and business owners in Marble about the trading post, due to it “having waste and clutter all over the property, harboring mosquitoes and disposing of waste improperly.” Harp reported that Myers faced a similar charge in 2017 but reached an agreement with the property that required him to “no longer store items in an improper manner,” and maintain “proper storage of items on the property,” Harp wrote.
Harp reported that he responded to the trading post in April in an attempt to locate Myers, though Myers was reportedly not at the location, and the post was closed at that time. Harp reported that he “could see tires out in the weather, along with junk and clutter over the two properties.”
“From the looks of the items all over the property, it was not organized as a business for selling items, but more of an open dumping of waste for some unknown purpose,” Harp reported.
Harp reported that he returned to the property on June 13 and June 19, and ticketed Myers on the latter date.
“This property is not a permitted facility to handle these items,” Harp reported after the visit on the 13th. “This trading post is operated at unknown times, but is more of a health hazard and public nuisance than a business.”
Violations that Harp reported included tires stored outside with water inside them, electronics stored outside and more.
“By the looks of the property and the photos I took on different dates, the items just sit out in the weather and are getting destroyed by the elements and are going to have no value or use,” Harp reported. “It is undetermined [if] this is a running business or just a place to store waste.”
But Myers argued recently that the trading post is frequented by many people, and that the items stored there are often sent home with those visitors.
“What I have are pallets and used lumber, which I use and sell, spools and merchandise [that] I get from three counties,” Myers said. “I’m literally getting donations in that, some people just bring it in and some people I have to pick it up, and we process that stuff. And some goes to the dumpster.”
Myers said he has a dumpster on-site for the two properties he uses for his trading post. He said the post gives away food weekly, and has a barbecue monthly, at which food and miscellaneous items are given away. He also sells and trades used appliances from the location.
“We do that giveaway of merchandise ... and some people take a box, some people take a couple items and some people take a truckload,” he said. “I’ve literally had people take truckloads of items, because they’re free. We do that to bless people. Say there’s somebody in the community that’s low on the finances – they can take a truckload of my stuff and have a yard sale. If they raise $40-50, that’s $40-50 they didn’t have before.
“That’s the kind of stuff we do in the community with this stuff that this guy’s calling a waste site.”
Myers said his ministry isn’t registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but likened his trading post to a yard sale.
“I’m just a yard sale. I am just a human being doing what I do,” he said. “We are the Natural State, and that’s what inspires me – Arkansas, the Natural State – to keep stuff out of the landfill. We bring this stuff in and sometimes I have to clean it, and sometimes I have to fix it and sometimes it’s beyond that, and I have to throw it away or give it away.”
At one time, Myers said he had around 800 used tires on his property. He said he no longer sells tires.
Funds collected through the sale of his items go toward his ministry, the upkeep of the buildings and the purchase of food to be distributed, he said.
At his appearance at the Huntsville District Court on Aug. 1, Myers was accompanied by a group of his supporters. Monte and Bernadine Perkins discussed after the hearing how Myers has provided them food and one time sold them a heater at an affordable price, which they eventually donated back so that it could be used to raise more funds for the ministry. Jim and Julie Rice also complimented Myers’ work, saying they were able to find affordable showers at his trading post, and said that he often gives food and other items away.
When asked his plea by District Judge Dale Ramsey, Myers responded, “absolutely not guilty.”
Myers will next appear in the district court on Sept. 19.