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Asbestos Resource Program director to step down

The Western News | November 23, 2021 7:00 AM

Virginia Kashdan is stepping down as the director of the Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program after helping to provide a local voice amid changes in the management of the Libby Superfund Site for more than two years.

After starting in March 2019, Kashdan, who has recently married and changed her name from Kocieda, oversaw the program as it grew from an appendage of the county health department into a separate entity. The following year, she helped the county navigate the EPA’s hand-off of most of the superfund site to state officials.

“It was challenging but fun,” said Kashdan on Nov. 17.

Throughout the process, Kashdan’s main priorities were keeping the public informed about cleanup and maintenance work and providing local input as state and federal officials charted the future of the superfund site.

The Asbestos Resource Program was created in 2012 with the goal of reducing exposure to the toxic mineral. Along with outreach campaigns, program officials help property owners looking to conduct sampling and abatement work.

Kashdan will be officially leaving the director position on Dec. 20. As of Nov. 17, she said her plans for what will come next are still in the works.

To take over her role, Kashdan is promoting Mandy Harcourt, the program's current operations manager. Elzhon Anderson, ARP’s field coordinator, will step into Harcourt’s position. County officials will look for applicants to fill Anderson’s shoes by first accepting applications for the job internally and then opening it up to the public if needed.

While the county has recently had trouble finding suitable candidates for skilled positions, Kashdan was confident officials would be able to find a replacement for Anderson.

As Kashdan prepared to leave office, she reminded residents to contact ARP whenever renovating or digging on their properties. ARP officials are available through the program’s hotline (406) 291-5335. More information on the program is listed on the department’s website