MONUMENT - Investigation into the activities of alleged methamphetamine manufacturers Jeffrey and Ruby Ann Geist gained ground recently, as the state provided notification to county officials that the residence is "unfit for use."
The Grant County Assessor's Office received notification on Dec. 19 from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Affairs that the building at 361 Main St was deemed "unfit for use" due to meth production. Owners of the residence were listed by the assessor's office as Harold and Dixie Reynolds of the Monument area, but, according to the assessor's office, they are selling the property on contract to the Geists. The Geists face multiple charges related to production of meth in both Deschutes and Grant counties.
The letter from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Affairs states: "Re: Drug lab registration. We have received notification from the Health Division that the following property was declared 'unfit for use' because of illegal methamphetamine manufacturing and/or use as a storage site."
Last week, police were in the process of determining the legal owner of the house at 361 Main St., the residence next to Monument School which has been occupied by the Geists. Police sought to clarify property ownership in an effort to serve a non-occupation order.
Sgt. Randy Crutcher from the Oregon State Police criminal investigation division in Baker City said last week that he had spoken with Monument Mayor Joe Duncan regarding the situation and advised him that houses involved with methamphetamine manufacturing activities can be occupied, but according to the Oregon Health Division they must be inspected.
"The legal owner of the house has to have it inspected within 30 days to determine if it is safe for occupancy," Crutcher explained. "The size and type of the drug manufacturing operation and the condition of the house are factors in determining whether the house is safe to live in or not. This doesn't mean the residence will have to be torn down, it just means that it cannot be occupied."
Failure to comply with the inspection order is a class B misdemeanor under Oregon law, and violators can be cited for maintaining a public nuisance.
Crutcher said he did not know at the time how badly the house in Monument was contaminated and that the health division would have to make that determination. Meanwhile, ongoing sale of the property prompted more investigation.
"We have attempted to serve a notice on the people who reportedly own the residence, but we aren't sure whether they are the registered owners," Crutcher said. "There are cases where the house has been sold on contract, and the new owners have not registered the property. In that case, the new owner would have to be contacted, and that's where we are now."
Initially, OSP was unable to locate the Reynoldses. Since that time, the state has gathered more information in coordination with the county and made the "unfit for use" determination.