Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Alex Ross 

Health board to close College Park Plaza


November 3, 2017

Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

College Park Plaza stands Thursday between Assiniboine and Kennedy avenues on 11th Street. Officials met Thursday to discuss health concerns raised by the condition of the building.

The Hill County Health Board voted Thursday to recommend that the Hill County's Health Officer issue an order to close the College Park Plaza until a series of public health and safety issues are addressed.

Four members of the board voted in support of the resolution at a special meeting Thursday. Board member Cindy Smith was not present.

Hill County Deputy Attorney Karen Alley said County Health Officer Bruce Richardson will send copies of the order to the building owner, manager and all 17 tenants.

Residents will be given 60 days to vacate the premises, the resolution says. The 60-days will start as soon as the owner receives the order, Alley said.

County Sanitarian Clay Vincent told board members and other city and county officials at the meeting that the condition of the building has been an ongoing problem. He said tenants and their relatives have complained to his office about the building. Although the building's owner has in the past asked for time to make improvements to the building, Vincent said conditions have only worsened.

"It is like one step forward and five steps backward, we aren't getting

anywhere with this" Vincent said.

Vincent said he toured the building in September and conditions include paint that could contain lead peeling off the walls, lights that have been pulled down, a common shower converted from a toilet stall, the presence of mold and a series of fire hazards.

Vincent said he worries the county could be held liable if it does not make sure the situation is addressed.

He added that the building's manager, Sheila Forshee, said the building's owner, who does not reside in Havre, does not put any money into the upkeep of the building. He said Forshee most likely just uses the money she collects for rent to make some repairs.

County Health Director Kim Larson said Richardson had seen photos Vincent had taken during his tour of the building and read about Vincent's findings and supports the closure of College Park Plaza.  

Havre Police Chief Gabe Matosich said that since Jan. 1, 2016, his department has received 275 calls involving College Park Plaza. He said police have been called to respond to partner family member assaults, instances of trash set on fire, theft, disorderly conduct, harassment, criminal contempt and trespassing.

There was one incident during that time period, Matosich said, where someone drove a vehicle onto the roof of the building.

"It's a mess," Matosich said.

He said he is not aware of any other location where the department has to respond to such a number of calls.

Alley said conditions in the building are not safe or sanitary and are putting the lives of people at risk. She said that the board should look into closing College Park Plaza until the conditions can be improved.

Alley added that, based on the fire inspection forms she has seen, conditions at the College Park Plaza are getting substantially worse.


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