Rats run amok in Kansas City neighborhood, threaten daycare

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City daycare may be in a poor part of town, but the building is freshly painted, the yard is always mowed and the property is free of trash. So why are there rats? One only needs to look at what's next door.

People routinely dump piles of garbage at the end of 68th street, near Prospect. It's an unsightly mess and nobody knows that better than Yvetta Witherspoon who manages Educare Child Development Center.

"We have about 35 kids and we are beginning to see rats in the neighborhood," Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon said she has complained multiple times to Kansas City government. She's worried that the rats will soon take up residence on her property.

"The woman who opens for me said she saw one run pretty close to the fence line and then back across the street," Witherspoon said. "I mean this is beyond me."

The Kansas City Health Department has set traps, but the rats never seem to go away. The city occasionally picks up the illegally dumped trash, but the next day more appears.

"The city has come out and inspected," Witherspoon said. "There's just not much follow-up."

That's why she called FOX 4 Problem Solvers for help. We noticed that a large portion of the trash appeared to be automotive parts. We talked to the owner of the business on the other side of the trash heap, Thomas Byrd of Byrd's Auto. He denied any of the trash belonged to him.

"I don't know where it comes from," Byrd said. "This has been going on for seven, eight, nine years."

FOX 4 then called the head of Kansas City's Neighborhood Preservation Department, who immediately took action.

The next day much of that illegal dump had been picked up. And the city cited Byrd for having trash and debris on his own property. Plus the city told FOX 4 Problem Solvers that some of the trash at the end of the street appeared to belong to him. That investigation is ongoing.

Update on Trnka's delinquent tax payment

In other matters, remember Charles and Mary Lee Trnka? They're the Kansas City couple who were being charged more than $200 in interest for a delinquent tax payment. They were furious because they had a receipt showing they paid the tax five years ago, using the city's own e-payment system. The city never got the payment. But the city didn't tell the Trnkas that until this year when the interest charge was almost as much as the tax itself.

The Trnkas complained to FOX 4 Problem Solvers. We talked to the city, which at first didn't appear interested in solving the problem. But after our story aired, someone at the city had a change of heart. The Trnkas got a letter from the City Finance Department, blaming a "break in communication" and a "clerical error" for the five-year lapse in notification. The city has now dropped the interest charge.

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