Tire Dump Trial Underway In Gulfport

Trial began in Gulfport Municipal Court Monday in the case which involves a massive tire dump near Highway 49 and 34th Street.

Earl Brown is the president of Gulfport Tire Recycling Inc.  He faces criminal charges for violating the requirements of a special exception use permit and alleged violations of fire and safety codes.

Defense attorney Channing Powell said his client was the wrong defendant. He suggested the corporation should be held accountable instead. But Judge Bill Atchison ruled against the motion, saying Brown would indeed stand trial for charges related to thousands of waste tires.

One neighboring business owner says it's time someone take responsibility.

John Hill says the tire dump is a mosquito breeding grounds. He says the growing piles of tires have been a problem for years.

"There's not supposed to be any tires on the ground. There's been tires on the ground from day one. They brought in trailers that's all over everybody's property out there. Now tires is on everybody's property out there. They're full of water," said Hill,, outside the courtroom.

And water-filled tires are a mosquito breeding grounds.

Dr. Robert Travnicek testified on behalf of the Mississippi Department of Health.

"It's a public health disaster. That's the problem. And the problem is we've been dealing with it for several years and we don't seem to be making any progress. And that's hard for a guy like me who practices medicine to understand what the problem is here," says Dr. Travnicek.

As WLOX News first reported, there is still a deal in the works to possibly clean up the tire site. A tire recycling business from North Mississippi has expressed interest in buying the tire shredding equipment , shredding and getting rid of the tires, and then moving the equipment and opening a tire recycling center at another location.

"That's a pending sale that we hope is going to happen in the next two weeks. But it's still up in the air," said Jim Smith, who was a stock holder in Gulfport Tire Recycling.

Smith said he'd like to see that deal go through.

"Oh yes sir, most definitely. It'll make the tires go away; make everybody happy," Smith said.

The defense attorney deferred comment until he presents his case on Tuesday.

"I can't. I'd rather wait until I've had an opportunity to call my defense," said attorney Channing Powell.

Earl Brown echoed a statements he's made before.

"If they'd let me grind them up, they'd done be gone," he said.

The case resumes in municipal court Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. The prosecution is expected to present another two witnesses before the defense begins.  Channing Powell expects two or three witnesses will testify for the defense.

Jim Smith and Clay Wagner were both investors in Gulfport Tire Recycling Inc. Both took the stand briefly in Monday morning's motion hearing. They testified about their role and interest in the corporation.

Earl Brown is the president of that corporation.  If found guilty, he could be ordered to pay fines of more than $ 700,000.