Green Box Sites Get Upgraded Security

Cameras, staffing added over past couple of years to reduce vandalism, theft

By Molly Priddy
The Columbia Falls container site on April 18, 2019. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Due to a “significant amount” of vandalism and other alleged criminal activity, the Flathead County Commission announced last week that there is now added security at the county’s green box disposal sites.

These measures, put in place over the last couple years throughout the county’s container sites, include installing cameras to ward off theft and after-hours damage, and razor wire along the perimeter of the green box sites.

“We’ve also added an employee at most sites, to respond to questions about refuse material and to help keep the sites clean,” Commissioner Phil Mitchell said in a prepared statement.

Having an employee onsite has led to a decrease in drifting garbage, set loose by the wind, and it has reduced the number of calls to law enforcement, Mitchell said. It has also helped when there are conflicts between citizens at the drop-off sites.

The county’s garbage drop-off sites, called “green boxes” because of the color and size of the dumpsters, are sites for county residents to unload household garbage without needing to take a trip to the landfill.

Many green-box container sites also host recycling areas for household recycling, including those in Columbia Falls, Lakeside, Somers, Bigfork, and Creston. The sites in Olney, the East Corridor, Coram, and the West Corridor take garbage, but do not have recycling access.

According to the Flathead County Solid Waste Department’s annual report on 2018, the Flathead County landfill saw 144,211 tons of trash between July 2017 and July 2018. This was a 24 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, and attributed to several major construction and deconstruction projects in the valley, including the demolition of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company. That project accounted for 12,711.23 tons of debris.

The added site employees have already helped the county’s recycling efforts, by being on hand to help people determine what can be recycled and what has to go to the landfill. This has helped keep literal tons of materials out of the landfill, Mitchell said.

The county also saw 11,313 tires removed and disposed of at the landfill by a private tire landfill company. The landfill received and recycled 10,100 of oil and 1,200 gallons of antifreeze, 699 batteries, and 1,683 tons of refrigerators and other appliances.

“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. “The commissioners thank our citizens for your suggestions and cooperation as we work to keep our green box sites safe and clean.”

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