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Supervisors apologize for ‘lack of communication’

No action taken on annex building

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 9:56 a.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 10:22 a.m. CST

(Continued from Page 2)

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors apologized Tuesday for a “lack of communication” in the wake of a report which recommended professional mold remediation after an analysis found slightly elevated mold spores in the basement of the Jasper County Annex Building. The report, along with the annex building was discussed at its regular board meeting on Tuesday.

“The buck stops here, I will take full blame for a lack of communication or if anybody feels like they were wronged, I had no other intention but making sure it was a safe place and with all of the information I was given, I had no reason to think differently,” supervisor chair Joe Brock said. “Communication works two ways and I apologize and we will take the responsibility for lack of communication.”

Brock said if they had to do the situation over again, it may be done differently, but he didn’t think “the board had not been in the habit of circulating every document that comes to the board of supervisors or auditor’s office.” He also said they are not in the practice of refusing anybody information.

“This is a lesson learned for the three of us for sure, if something like this pops up again you guys should know,” supervisor Doug Cupples said.

Brock gave a detailed background on the issues facing the annex basement and a previous mold study which took place in 2014. In that report, the supervisors were told there was mold presence found and, following the company’s recommendation, had the air scrubbers in the area.

“We decided to take another look at the building. Their recommendation came back through our maintenance department and they did not detect anything, everything was OK,” Brock said.“There was no reason to move anyone out of the building and since we hadn’t opened up anything or been any disturbances, there was no need to run air scrubbers, everything was OK, we thought we bought ourselves some time.”

Cupples said Midwest Indoor Air Quality provided him a new statement and read it aloud Tuesday.

“With the low levels of Stachybotrys mold spores found in the home care aide’s office, the slightly elevated determination by the lab suggests that water intrusion has occurred but the mold growth is not yet as severely elevated to a hazardous amount in the room, as of March 30, 2017,” Cupples said. “Professional remediation is primarily recommended due to the potential of hidden or unknown mold growth residing inside walls and building materials being released into the air during demolition and clean up if necessary precautions are not taken. The timeline for remediation varies depending on if the water intrusion through the foundation increases or decreases and if employees begin to experience symptoms of mold expulsion in the affected areas.”

The Midwest Indoor Air Quality report does not include these comments, nor were they conveyed during an Oct. 18 interview with Tanner Francisco, a biologist and environmental hygienist who conducted the analysis. The original report states “due to the air being elevated for Stachybotrys mold spores and the surface sample and carpet sample confirmation of Stachybotrys and Chaetomium mold spores, we are recommending professional mold remediation for the home care aide’s office.”

It also stated water intrusion through the foundation walls throughout the basement should be corrected and advised to have the walls in the immunization room and the environmental health director’s office probed by remediates to determine if a small amount of mold growth may be present in behind the walls since a small amount was detected in the air.

The supervisors asserted several times after reading the results and talking with Midwest, they felt the building was safe to conduct regular business for the employees.

“We’re still in the same spot that we were. I still believe there is no danger to the employees and that the building as it stands, as long as we don’t stir anything up is fine,” Brock said. “That is what I was told by the professionals and I’ll still maintain that.”

Discussions then turned to the future of the annex building and the Jasper County Health Department, which is housed in the basement of the building. More than once, the board brought up the Jasper County Board of Health’s request for more space for the health department, including moving to a different building.

“I think the health department desires to have more space,” Cupples said. “I don’t know that much about your space requirements or what we are obligated to. I think it is important that we learn that, too, that we are all informed appropriately on what we can and can’t do and on what we should and shouldn’t do.”

At an August meeting, the board of health chairwoman Margot Voshell addressed the supervisors with concerns about the space in the building and its “unacceptable working conditions” following an engineering firm’s report on the annex building’s exterior foundation detailing issues with the water infiltration, window wells and handicap accessibility.

Brock spoke about how some of the supervisors, along with members of the board of health and health department, looked at several buildings throughout the county as potential homes for not only the health department, but potentially the entire staff in the annex building.

“We have looked continually at buildings and they are fine properties … I’m just not seeing anything that is triggering a lot of interest in my mind,” Brock said. “There are (also) so many considerations for moving.”

Brock again raised at least researching the construction of a new building. He said in order to get a complete picture of all of the options before the county, new construction costs should be included in the discussion.

The supervisors then discussed in general terms the role of the health department and what it should be in the county, where and how it should function and concluded by agreeing the supervisors, health department and board of health need to have additional conversations in order to move forward.

“I think there is something that we need to keep in mind, everybody needs more space,” auditor Dennis Parrott said. “There are a lot requests for space and we can’t all have our own buildings just for space and meetings.”

Cupples said the board has been discussing the annex building at least since Valentine’s Day and that it was on the agenda weekly through May 9. He also relented that not much work has been completed even though the board has “not let up.”

“The reality is, it feels like, to each one of us, that we haven’t got much further than we were, even 11 months ago, except we have looked at all of these buildings,” Cupples said. “We talked before the meeting that we as board work on our relationship and how we communicate better so we can get to a decision on it. Those are important things.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com

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