Trash versus treasure
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – One man’s trash may be another’s treasure, but in resident Joseph Ruffner’s case, trash that city of Wyandotte employees removed that were allegedly attracting rats included vintage surfboards stored outside.
The City Council exonerated the city employee’s action to remove what was deemed as yard waste from Ruffner’s residence in the 3800 block of 16th Street at the Nov. 1 council meeting by resolution.
During the Oct. 18 council meeting, Ruffner, who said he had two strokes lasts January and stutters as a result, claimed that city employees entered his yard Aug. 23 and removed three vintage surfboards from his backyard, which he said were displayed decoratively, and were valued at $1,000 to $1,500 each.
Ruffner said two neighbors witnessed the removal of the surfboards, and he said he filed a police report regarding the alleged theft.
He said that when he called the city Engineering Department about the loss of the surfboards, the person answering his phone call laughed at him.
In a separate letter to the city council, Ruffner said the theft occurred on or after Oct. 6, and he filed a police report on Oct. 14 regarding the removal of the property from his yard.
City employees tell a different story. They say neighbors claimed the accumulation of junk in the yard was creating a rat problem, and on Aug. 31, six cubic yards of debris, including pallets and “junk” were removed from the yard. Photos, showing the overgrowth of weeds and stacks of refuse, are included on pages 21 and 22 of the online Nov. 1 city council support documents accompanying the meeting agenda. The documents also contain the warning notices sent to Ruffner.
The Nov. 1 city council resolution dismissed the allegation of theft of property, and denied restitution for the property removed.