Looks like David (Choc) Junker has finally cleaned up his act.
The former Stillwater mayor and community icon, who is notorious for piling flea market loot in his yard, was ordered by a Washington County judge to have his property cleaned up by today.
In the past couple of weeks, he has been working hard along with his son, Scott (Cutter) Junker, and a crew of volunteers to remove a mountain of metal, tires and junk.
Nearly 50 people -- many who knew Junker from his days serving the community as mayor, school board member and public works director -- pitched in recently to help haul away truckloads of Junker's miscellaneous collection.
Scott Junker said his father's hobby of collecting old things over the years just got out of hand. "He kept bringing stuff and bringing stuff, and my mom was just going crazy," he said. Much of his father's collection has been crammed inside two garages.
The rest of his stuff either was discarded or hauled away to a storage site. "We filled up a 50-foot semitrailer," Scott Junker said. "It was a miracle that we got it done so fast."
His father, who is 73 and has Parkinson's disease, hasn't been able to clean up the area on his own so he needed help from the community, Scott Junker said. Last week, they held a two-day clean-up event, loading 10 Dumpsters, and taking 20 loads to the scrap metal yard.
Stillwater city officials said the property, where Choc Junker has lived for 40 years, has long been an eyesore.
"It's been going on for the entire time I've been here," said Larry Hansen, the city administrator, who has been in his post for six and a half years. "We would get him to clean it up, and within a few weeks it would revert right back.
"Finally there were enough complaints and it was bad enough that we felt we had to do something."
The city gave Junker numerous warnings, Hansen said, and then a citation.
Eventually the matter went to court, and Junker pleaded guilty to violating the city's nuisance law, a misdemeanor. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine and clean up his property by 4:30 p.m. today or face additional penalties, according to Washington County Court administration officials. Stillwater Police Chief John Gannaway said he and a couple of other city officials inspected the Junker house at 1001 N. 4th St., on Monday afternoon.
Gannaway said he was told by City Attorney David Magnuson that the deadline, technically, was 4 p.m. on Monday. Neither Choc Junker nor Scott Junker was present during their visit.
"It looks better," Gannaway said of the property. "He made great strides. He has a couple things he has to correct." Among them, some "odds and ends" need to be removed from a grassy area adjacent to the Junker land that Gannaway said is owned by the city. There are also some pickup trucks that aren't working parked there, he said.
"Either it will be cleaned up by tomorrow or we'll clean it up," Gannaway said, adding that someone from the city will return to the Junker house today to make sure it gets done. Junker would be charged with the cost of any clean-up, he said.
It will be up to the court to decide whether Junker has complied with the judge's order.
Pat Sullivan, a neighbor who lives across from Junker, acknowledged that the place is cleaner now. "I've been around for 13, 14 years. It's been getting worse every year," he said of Junker's junk. "They definitely got rid of a lot of stuff."
Given the property's history, some wonder whether it will become an eyesore again. Hansen says no.
"I think he got the message," he said of Junker. "People have gone to a lot of work to clean it up. I wouldn't anticipate it would get back to anywhere near this level again."
Allie Shah • 651-298-1550