Huge help for old hospital cleanup

Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, May 24, 2018

A year after the old Columbus hospital building was shut down and deemed a public nuisance upon the discovery of approximately 14,000 square feet of asbestos and other “contaminants of concern,” a grant has been secured that will pay for the clean-up of the site.

The $170,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be used to remove asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, lead-based paint and mold in portions of the old hospital building, according to a news release from the EPA.

The contaminants were found during a March 2017 assessment of the building by Weston Solutions, Inc., Super-fund Technical Assessment and Response Team (START) out of Colorado at the request of the Stillwater County Commissioners.

The assessment was sought as Commissioners Maureen Davey and Dennis Shupak began to move forward in remodeling the building for use of county offices.


Stillwater County was one of 144 grant recipients across the nation to successfully apply for and obtain a federal Brownfield grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Stillwater County Economic Development Coordinator Marissa Hauge applied for the grant and was noted in the EPA’s notification of award.

“Stillwater County submitted an outstanding grant proposal, and we deeply appreciate the tremendous commitment of time and energy that went into its preparation,” wrote Brownfields and land Revitalization Director David R. Lloyd in the EPA’s notification letter.

Had Hauge not been successful in getting the grant, the county would have been responsible for paying the entire cost of the remediation.


A fact sheet describes the Stillwater project as follows:

“The almost one-acre cleanup site was formerly a hospital built in 1952, and has been used as a hospital, county offices and an assisted living space. The site had a number of renovations and additions from 1953 to the early 2000s. Buildings on the site are contaminated with PCBs, metals, inorganic contaminants, and mold.”

The portion of the building where a handful of county offices are located — known as the West Annex — have remained open, as has the Meadowlark Assisted Living Center. Facilities Supervisor Jerry Bokma and his crew had an office space in the old hospital building prior to the March 2017 assessment, but now use the old ambulance barn for a shop, said Stillwater County Commissioner Mark Crago.

While still at the old hospital, demolition work had been done by Bokma and his crews without proper notification to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

No work is being done inside the building at all, said Crago.