Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 18, 2013

Project to eradicate mold problem in McDowell courthouse

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — Mold generating a foul smell and forcing six employees to use inhalers at work continues to be a problem at the McDowell County Courthouse, but an upcoming project to renovate the county’s administrative buildings could provide a long-term solution.

“It’s been going on quite a while,” County Clerk Don Hicks said of the mold problem. “We’ve put in work orders and stuff like that to address it. We’re getting water in the basement, and when you get that, you get mold. The assessor’s got a mold problem, too.”

The mold has been more than an annoyance, Hicks said.

“It smells. It will cause your skin to itch and it affects your breathing. It can affect you many ways,” he stated.

The McDowell County Health Department has confirmed the courthouse’s mold problem. A second step is to contact an expert and identify what type of mold is present and how to eliminate it, Hicks said. Meanwhile, county clerk employees have been trying to address the problem.

“My girls have done a great deal of work down there,” Hicks said. “They’ve taken up tile. Six people in this office and the assessor’s office are on inhalers. When they’re home on the weekends and stuff, they don’t have to use their inhalers.”

The county commission has contacted a firm certified in dealing with mold problems, said Commissioner Harold McBride.

“We’re going to get them in and take care of it,” he stated.

On Thursday, the county commission met with Dan Hart with Dan Hart Architects about the ongoing Courthouse Renovation Project. The project’s goal is to get the county’s administrative buildings up to code. The condition of the county’s buildings has been a “pet peeve,” McBride stated.

“We’re very happy with this,” McBride said about the project. “We had a meeting this morning. We’re looking at redoing all of our buildings and getting them up to code.”

The project will cost approximately $28 million. Tax credits for historic buildings will cover much of the funding, leaving approximately $7 million the county will pay over time, McBride said.

“That’s a heck of a deal,” he added.

Plans call for finishing all the necessary paperwork by 2014, and beginning the construction phase in January 2015, McBride said.