By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
State law does not define junk the way most people do, county planner and sanitarian Clay Vincent told the Hill County commissioners Monday. In response to citizens' complaints, the commissioners asked Vincent for an update on what is being done to clear North Havre of 32 cars parked across the street from Bender Auto Body.
A car that runs, is legally licensed and can be driven legally on the roads is not junk, and can be parked in plain view. A car that does not fit those criteria must be shielded from public view, Vincent said.
Lyle Bender, who owns Bender Auto Body, has room behind his shop to store junk cars from view, but there are some obstacles to overcome before he can move any cars, Vincent told the commissioners.
The county contracts with Bender to haul away vehicles abandoned in the county. Those worth more than $500 - 16 of the 32 cars - belong to the county and must be sold in a sheriff's auction. The other 16 cars are worth less than $500 and, by law, now belong to the wrecker service.
Five of the 32 cars have liens against them, and the banks that hold the liens must be contacted.
Bender is responsible for storing his 16 cars out of site if they are junk, Vincent said. The county is responsible for holding a sheriff's auction for the other 16.
"Whatever is on this list is going to be kicked out of there real soon," Vincent said.
Lyle Bender said today that he will begin moving the cars and contacting the sheriff to begin the sales process.
Bender is storing the cars on the neighbor's lot across the street with permission, Vincent said. That lot will be cleared in two weeks, he added.
The commissioners were satisfied with Vincent's report, as was one North Havre resident who attended the meeting but did not give his name.
"It sounds like you're on top of it, anyway," Commissioner Doug Kaercher said.