"They've been trying to buy it forever, so, I just decided to give it to them," Cecil King said. It is a tax-deductible donation worth $400,000.
Judy King said, "The tax benefit will probably be as good as what the land would bring us."
The Kings have until August 2006 to clear out the towering piles of twisted metals, after which they will continue to operate their second scrap yard off U.S. 127 near Junction City.
"We're still going to be working. We'll just be working half as hard," Judy said. The six employees at the Crab Orchard location will also be transferred to the remaining business, including Spurgeon.
It was the largest gift to the city in recent memory, said Ramey.
"It's quite a substantial gift, so that adds a lot of equity to the city itself," Ramey said. While there are several ideas on the table, he hopes to see the building and land turned into an assisted living complex for members of the aging community who need just a little extra help in their day-to-day, he said.
"There's a number of different things, we just don't know yet," Ramey said.
Ford said, "I think Judy said it best, it's a win, win situation. I think the future is bright here in many ways."
Perhaps a win/win for neighbors who have long complained of the yard's noisy crane, and dust, and muggy, rusty smell. But for neighboring business owners, restaurateurs and gas station attendants, the closing of the scrapyard could mean less money in the till.
Worse than Wal-Mart?
Spurgeon has raised three kids while working in the scrapyard, for more years than he wants to admit.
"You name it, it's come through here," he said. He's seen acres of pop cans, horse-drawn equipment from the Amish, even people stealing cans to sell back to the scrapyard the next day.
"Anything they can make a buck on, they take it and sell it at the flea market," he said. "It's worse than Wal-Mart."
But like a local Supercenter, the scrapyard pumps income into a community struggling to find financial footing. People take their checks from the scrapyard to Reddi-Mart down the street and buy gas, or to the Past Time Cafe for lunch, said Spurgeon. Not to mention the tax dollars paid directly to the city, he added.
"They'll miss it. They have no idea what this place does."
"Yea, they'll miss them. Some days we write 60 or 70 checks a day," Cecil King said. He hops on a discarded pogo stick - still works, he said - and tosses it back on the pile of broken metal scrap. Who'd scrap that he asks?
While some will be happy to see the business go, when they need it "they'll say, 'Boy, I miss that scrapyard.'" King said.
Across the street, shop owner Tonia Dyehouse said the closing is a step in the right direction in beautifying the town.
Built decades before planning and zoning, the scrapyard encompassed a large chunk of downtown, located directly across from City Hall on Main Street. If downtown is more attractive, more people in town enroute to Interstate 75 will stop by, said Dyehouse.
"The benefits far outweigh the negatives," Dyehouse said. "We as a community need to stay really focused on carrying through on these plans" of city improvement. Not just the council, everybody, she said.
Back at her office, Judy King said other neighbors say the loss of the scrapyard will be felt financially.
"We've already had a lot of the businesses express concern," she said. "Our customers spend a lot of their money right here in downtown. But there's a time when things have to change."
It's time for them to slow down, Cecil agreed.
But after generations of citizens have come to the scrapyard to trade cans for cash, and to trade the kitchen sink for lunch money, "it will be missed."