Residents from a rural neighborhood in Crawford County requested action by the Justices of the Peace at the quorum court meeting Monday night against a nearby gun range that they said poses a danger.
Brenda Yeakley spoke on behalf of residents that live near the THOR Global Defense gun range at 1206 Knesek Lane in Van Buren, owned by Larry Knesek.
Yeakley told Justices of the Peace that not only her house and others’ residences have been struck by wayward bullets, but her niece was recently shot in the leg while at home. She provided JPs with incident reports dating back to 2009.
Because the range and surrounding neighborhood are outside city limits, residents called on the Crawford County Quorum Court to take action.
"I would ask you to do whatever you can to help our community before someone gets hurt," Yeakley said, becoming emotional.
A representative from THOR Global, Max Rodriguez, spoke at the meeting. He said the range is working to make it safer and was willing to hear from residents, though several residents spoke up and said that was not so.
Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown told JPs that the reports had been investigated, but there were no conclusive results tying found bullets to guns used by range patrons.
He added that while the stray shots may be considered negligence, no criminal intent was determined and therefore it was a civil issue.
After some discussion, it was determined that JPs could pass an ordinance regulating gun ranges, but all current businesses would be "grandfathered in," and therefore unaffected.
County Attorney Chuck Baker told Yeakley and the other residents attending the meeting that "if the allegations are true, this is a classic case of public nuisance," and suggested they pursue a civil lawsuit against the gun range.
While Yeakley said she and her neighbors had not yet filed a lawsuit, they would consider the county’s advice.
Also during the meeting, JPs discussed the newly revealed architect design for the proposed new detention center.
Crawford County Judge John Hall said he was "impressed" with the chosen architechtural firm, SouthBuild Team, LLC., and "awed" at their ability to use technology to create and adjust design features of the jail.
SouthBuild representatives gave a full presentation of the 270-bed jail design, including site layout, costs and scope of the project during a press conference April 18.