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Published July 07, 2009, 12:00 AM

City of Bridgewater sues to recoup costs of cleaning up rotting meat

BRIDGEWATER — The city of Bridgewater is suing to recoup the costs of cleaning up 44 tons of rotting meat from an abandoned meat plant last month.

By: Jamie Gibson, The Daily Republic

BRIDGEWATER — The city of Bridgewater is suing to recoup the costs of cleaning up 44 tons of rotting meat from an abandoned meat plant last month.

Shortly after the June 23 incident, the city filed a civil lawsuit against Ilan Parente, the owner of the facility.

According to city attorney Mike Fink, the complaint, entered in McCook County circuit court, seeks monetary damages in the amount expended by the city of Bridgewater. The judgment would allow the city “to take steps to search for assets that will satisfy the judgment,” Fink said. Bridgewater mayor Marty Barattini estimates the city’s charges add up to between $5,000 and $7,000.

The cleanup effort required the resources of volunteers and city and county personnel to dispose of the meat and return the plant to a sanitary state.

In addition to bills from the city, which are still accumulating and include fees from the fire department and landfill, Fink said, McCook County has $5,066.74 in charges of its own. The county’s expenses include the services of county highway, emergency management and ambulance personnel. The bill also includes $350 to rent a skid-steer loader for seven hours.

Parente, who moved out of the facility 17 months ago to open Noah’s Ark Meat Processing in Dawson, Minn., said last week he had received bills for the cleanup but would have to consult with his advisors to determine if he would pay it.

If Parente opts to pay the bills, the matter will not go to trial, Fink said, though he doesn’t anticipate Parente will settle quietly.

“Given the history here, I don’t expect it,” Fink said.

Some Bridgewater residents have speculated that Parente left the meat behind as payback for past run-ins with authorities, but Parente denied such allegations. He maintains the incident was a mishap he had been working to correct in May and June. On June 23, county and city authorities, led by Emergency Management Director Brad Stiefvater, stepped in due to complaints of a stench.

McCook County Sheriff Mark Norris said he had spoken to McCook County State’s Attorney Roger Gerlach and does not think Parente will face criminal charges. Gerlach was not immediately available for comment Monday.

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