JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - After several vehicles at City Youth Ministries have been damaged by metal debris in their parking lot, the non-profit organization is raising awareness to the city. They claim that debris is traveling from the recycling company Tenenbaum Recycling Group across the street.
"We are very concerned about this issue," said Denise Snider, executive director. "We want to bring awareness that our vans, employee cars, volunteers' cars, even our parents' cars are dealing with a lot of metal pieces and nails that are causing problems with our tires."
In 2016, Snider said she reached out to the company about the issue after four of their van tires had to be replaced.
"Initially, they helped in the beginning," said Snider. "We only had to pay for two of the four tires damaged."
Jack Grundfest, CEO and president of TRG, acknowledged this act in a statement released Wednesday.
"We first received notice of these allegations in mid-2016. At that time, I personally had a phone conversation with Denise Snider of Union City Youth Ministries about her complaints. After that phone call, I coordinated a meeting with Ms. Snider and the General Manager of TRG Jonesboro, Justin Walker, so that they could visit in person and so that she could explain her concerns. The real issue appeared to be that when we loaded out bulk nails to be recycled, some of them were apparently dropping off of the bumper of the trailer on to Madison Street. Our GM, Mr. Walker, agreed that whenever we shipped nails using that exit, we would use our sweeper to clean up any stray materials. At the time of our first contact, Ms. Snider told me that several of the tires from Union City Youth Ministries were damaged by nails on the road. I asked her the cost of the repairs, and TRG voluntarily mailed her a check to cover the cost plus an extra amount to show our good faith."
However, Snider said when she reached out about the problem again, she received no response.
"I have tried contacting them multiple times," said Snider. "I even brought them a little baggie of the metal scraps my volunteers said kids were finding on the playground but they claimed it wasn't from them. I have had no response since. They are no longer engaged in helping the children like before."
To which, Grundfest responded.
"She has contacted us a total of approximately 6 times including those mentioned above. 3 or 4 times Ms. Snider called and requested that we do an additional sweep, a request with which we gladly complied."
Snider said the metal is traveling from the company through a series of truck loads.
"Through my observations, a lot of trucks come through Johnson and then through Burke and Flint and they are dropping pieces as they are doing drop offs," said Snider. "Then as they pull out of the fence they drop random pieces of metal. There is also a crane that swings the metal the magnet can not hold and it drops debris in the roadway where our vans have to do U-turns to avoid catching another flat."
"I am sorry that the organization believes that our material is impacting their operations. The playground is over 100 feet from our recycling center. No material in the recycling center ever becomes airborne other than the material being loaded from the bucket of a front-end loader or the grapple of a crane into a truck. Our material could not be traveling that far or even in that direction unless it was carried there. Whenever nails are loaded out of the Madison Street exit, we always sweep up behind them. There are trucks traveling Madison street from another business in addition to our trucks."
Snider said though this could impact the tight budget they already run on, the main concern is for the safety of their kids.
"This is all about protecting our children who don't have a voice and trust us to provide a safer place for them," said Snider. "I feel us working together we can make that happen for them. I have a lot of faith in our city government which is why I brought this to their attention."
Grundfest feels bringing the city in on this issue should have never happened.
"We regret that Ms. Snider and the folks at Union City Youth Ministries have chosen to deal with their issue in this public manner. We have always worked well together in the past. I never heard from her after we choose not to make an additional contribution to her organization in September of 2016. This action comes as a surprise to me."
"TRG Jonesboro and our predecessor organization, Hummelstein Iron and Metal, have been operating in that location since 1907. We are proud of our heritage, have always been good neighbors and have done and will continue to do whatever we can to contribute to this community and worthwhile organizations in this city. We regret that Union City Youth Ministries has chosen to deal with their concerns in this way rather than contacting me. If I had any notice that their concerns had raised to this level, we would have coordinated a meeting to try and resolve the problem. Ms. Snider has my phone number and my email. I would have appreciated a phone call. TRG Jonesboro has 10 locations throughout Arkansas and Southern Missouri. TRG has been in business since 1890, have been generous corporate citizens, and intend to stay that way!"
In the end, Snider said she is not badmouthing anyone but feels urgent action needs to be taken sooner rather than later.
"Everything is about the child," said Snider. "All the time. And it is our responsibility as citizens and adults to protect a child from any type of injury and to make this a comfortable place for people to bring their kids."
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