Increased security at green boxes paying off

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Efforts to improve security at green-box garbage collection sites throughout Flathead County have led to decreases in break-ins, vandalism and taxpayer expenses, according to a press release from the Flathead County commissioners.

Over the last several years, the Flathead County Solid Waste District has focused on installing cameras, adding razor wire around the boxes and staffing the sites with personnel capable of answering questions and safeguarding the sites against any “dumpster divers.” And the efforts appear to be working.

Prior to the enhancements, Commissioner Phil Mitchell said there was a “significant amount of theft, vandalism, after-hours damage, and conflicts between citizens” at the collection sites. Individuals were stealing recyclables and tools from sheds and at some sites, and animals were making their way into the boxes as well.

“While the commissioners realize the added security gives our green-box sites a pretty sterile appearance, the savings to the taxpayers and the reduced risk to the county and individuals is significant,” Mitchell said in a prepared statement. “The commissioners thank our citizens for your suggestions and cooperation as we work to keep our green-box sites safe and clean.”

There are currently 10 sites in Flathead County stretching from Lakeside to Olney, supplying residents in more rural areas with locations for disposing their household trash that are often closer than the county landfill based in North Kalispell. The Essex, Olney, Coram and Kila locations do not accept recycling, according to the Solid Waste District website.

Of the 10 sites, the only one not staffed is Essex — a location that Public Works Director Dave Prunty, says most likely will remain unmanned because the area receives so little trash. Prunty said the county is in the process of staffing the Olney site.

Some green-box sites have seen enough activity in recent years to warrant site expansion. Just last week, the county closed a bidding period for an upcoming expansion project at the Coram green-box site. The county plans to add between 10 and 15 green boxes, expand gravel work and improve fencing. The Coram project is estimated to cost around $158,000.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com

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