Massive cleanup underway at Marion property

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Large amounts of debris, old tires and more than 100 junk vehicles are being removed from Michael Linstead’s property in Marion through a collaborative effort involved numerous Flathead County departments and the state Department of Environmental Quality. (Photo courtesy Flathead OES)

A massive cleanup project is underway at a private residence in Marion where government agencies have been working toward cleanup for close to a dozen years.

Flathead County, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and their contractor, Missouri River Contractors, on Monday began cleanup of junk vehicles and solid waste at Michael Linstead’s 1-acre property at 415 Pleasant Valley Road, near the Marion Post Office. Linstead failed to comply with a Flathead County District Court order, which led to the DEQ receiving post-judgment relief to remove the vehicles and waste, according to Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino. The project is anticipated to take seven to 10 days to complete. Linstead was arrested on misdemeanor warrants for failing to appear in court. Linstead was held in jail overnight and released Monday evening. He made a court appearance Tuesday morning, Heino said.

An aerial photograph that accompanied the press release shows a massive amount of debris. The Flathead County Office of Emergency Services reported that 380 cubic yards of solid waste refuse, old tires and scrap metal were hauled from the property on Monday.

There are more than 100 junk vehicles on the property. Scrap metal and recyclables are being hauled away by Pacific Steel. Other debris is being taken to the county landfill, according to John Rasmann, an environmental enforcement specialist and on-scene coordinator. Linstead will not be allowed on his property during the cleanup, Rasmann said.

“Significant progress is being made but there is much work to be done,” Flathead OES said in a Facebook post.

Linstead did not have a permit to operate a junkyard, and also had been cited with a sanitation violation for not having a septic system on his property, Heino said. “There were a lot of barrels full of stuff,” he added.

Flathead OES Manager Rick Sacca said the government agencies have been working toward cleanup of the property for about 12 years.

Sacca said the county animal control warden was used to gather up Linstead’s cats, which included two newborn kittens and three adult cats.

“Linstead decided he would sign the two kittens over to animal shelter,” Sacca said. “He still owns the adults cats and they are being cared for at the county animal shelter.”

Heino said a lien likely will be placed on Linstead’s property to cover the cleanup costs, which could total “several hundred thousand” dollars.

The court also will put Linstead on a payment plan to pay the fines attached to the sanitation and decay violations, the sheriff said.

The project is a collaborative effort involving the Sheriff’s Office, county Public Works Department, OES, City-County Health Department, Marion Fire Department, state DEQ and Missouri River Contractors.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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