Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 9, 2014

Mold abatement: McDowell project a necessity

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — With hope, a long-planned mold abatement project at the historic McDowell County Courthouse in Welch will be getting underway soon. The project is necessary and should go a long way toward improving the overall air quality for both employees and visitors to the public facility.

The mold abatement project was advertised for construction last week. The courthouse is one of the region’s oldest landmarks. It was erected in 1894. An independent specialist recently examined the courthouse environment and found “three to four” types of mold, according to Assistant County Administrator Clif Moore.

How hazardous this mold could be depends on each individual’s sensitivity to it, Moore, also a member of the state House of Delegates, told the Daily Telegraph last week. The contractor selected for the mold abatement project also will be charged with removing pigeon excrement, asbestos, addressing roof drainage and making other repairs to eliminate moisture that allows mold to grow. The contractor must also guarantee that the courthouse will be free of moisture that causes mold for 20 years. The work would also address problems “relating to any kind of invasion of birds,” Moore says.

The county commission tried to find a way to address the air quality problem quickly, but ran into several stumbling blocks. For example, he says the commission tried to expedite the project with the state by circumventing the normal bidding process, but the commission was told the state would not allow that.

In the meantime, other renovation projects at the courthouse are continuing. Work on the courthouse roof has been ongoing for more than three years. Funding for the $450,000  roof project has come from the state Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority. The work includes lighting, wiring and down spouts on the courthouse roof.

Moore says the mold abatement effort is one part of a much larger project to renovate all the county offices in Welch. The full project is proposed to include renovations to the county commission offices, the county’s magistrate court, family court and circuit court.

The entire renovation project will cost approximately $21 million. The commission is hoping to use tax credits, historical preservation credits and syndication credits relating to municipal bonds and county bonds to help pay for a majority of the project cost, Moore says. The county would pay the remaining $5 million over a seven-year period.

There is little question that the aging court facilities in the county are in need of renovations. That’s why the planned upgrades — if financially feasible — will be helpful. In the meantime, it is our hope that the mold abatement project can move as quickly as possible to improve the overall air quality in the historic courthouse for employees, and the general public, who utilize the structure on a daily basis.