Trash Debt Roulette

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

Listening to Curtis Whiters, the owner of Stewart’s Hauling explain how six of his company’s commercial trash dumpsters ended up in an illegal dump site at 22nd and Kensington requires not only good listening skills but also an ability to keep up with the gossipers at the Wednesday afternoon Bridge club. As they say in relationships these days, it’s complicated.

Whiters, also known as “Little Stewart” owns a small, commercial trash hauler based in Kansas City’s east side. The company’s bread and butter is hauling trash, primarily for small businesses in the city’s urban core.

“My grandfather started this company in 1955 and we’re still a family owned business that cares about our customers,” Whiters said.

When Whiters started getting phone calls from the city inspectors asking why six of his dumpsters filled with trash had been dumped in a vacant lot in the 2200 block of Kensington, he knew something was seriously wrong.

We went to the dump site and sifted through some trash and came up with this Spire Energy bill that went back to a complex of duplexes in the 4500 block of Linwood Boulevard where in the parking lot, two Stewart’s Hauling dumpsters were overflowing with trash next to brand new dumpsters from another local trash company.

Whiters explained that an alleged ownership change had taken place at the complex and a new property management company had been brought in at the same time. After a few months however, the bill for the complex had blossomed to over $1,400. Whiters contacted the management company and learned that the complex was still under the same Canadian ownership group as before and that the new management company had terminated their agreement with the now in-default owner. Whiters contacted the old ownership group in an attempt to collect the debt but to no avail.

Last week when Whiters drove by the the complex, he noticed some of his dumpsters had disappeared from the parking lot. After contacting the complex office to ask about his missing containers, Whiters was met with more stonewalling and was ultimately was hung up on by the company’s office person. Whiters even received threatening phone calls from anonymous men demanding he walk away from the debt and to come collect his dumpsters from the parking lot.

Then last Friday, Whiters received a call from a city inspector asking why his loaded trash containers were dumped in a vacant lot in the 2200 block of Kensington.

“I was shocked,” he said.

Later in the day he met city Illegal Dumping inspector Alan Ashurst at the dump site, verified that the containers were indeed his and began to put two and two together.

“We know for a fact these cans came from the duplexes off Linwood” said Ashurst. The mystery however is how they got from the duplexes to the vacant lot at 22nd and Kensington. Six loaded dumpsters don’t move themselves halfway across town by themselves” he said. Someone had the means and the motive to move these and that’s where we’re at right now”

According to Neighborhood and Housing Services spokesman John Baccala, any illegal dumping over 500 pounds is considered a felony.

“Right now we’re looking at six felony charges of illegal dumping,” Baccala said.

Whiters, however is unable to recover the severely damaged dumpsters from the lot, those will be part of the city’s clean up.

“I can’t use them now,” he said. “They’re all damaged beyond repair.”

For now the investigation is ongoing and Whiters is working with city officials to try to determine who is responsible.

“Had I known at the time I would have caused this much inconvenience to the city, I would have cut my losses with them and run,” he said. “It’s just not worth the trouble.”

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