County looking at potential mold issue at sheriff’s department building

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An abundance of rainfall, especially over the last two months, in Independence County has apparently been exacerbating a mold issue in the building that houses the Independence County Sheriff’s Department.

Concerned employees have provided pictures to White River Now (see below) from inside some areas of the building. The building has experienced some leaks in the past that have been repaired or patched. One employee says the leaks in the building’s roof have been occurring since before Sheriff Shawn Stephens was in office.

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Mold 3 more damaged tiles

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This picture is of what appears to be mold in a piece of wi-fi equipment that was installed earlier this year, according to one county employee.

There have been at least two bids received on replacing the roof, and the bidding is in the neighborhood of $30,000 to $32,000 — an amount the sheriff’s department says it can’t pull from another budgeted line-item because their budget is already stretched to the limit.

And some employees are wondering why that money hasn’t been budgeted by the county’s building maintenance department. That department’s supervisor is Glen McKay.

In an email sent to local media and quourm court members, McKay said he spoke yesterday with EMTEC, a company that specializes in the assessment, cause, identification, and removal of air-born mold spores of all kinds.

According to McKay, the conversation began with the need to first test the outside air quality and compare that to the inside air, such as the office areas. He said if the spore counts are higher in the building than they are outside, there may be a problem

McKay said he told EMTEC the county, with the assistance of the Lyon College Science Department, prepared some Petri dishes and placed them throughout the building.

McKay said two of the ten dishes grew “black spots.” He said more dishes were prepared, and they were located around that area where the spots grew — both in the attic and in the office environment.

McKay said he asked about the black spots and if they were mold and was told “not necessarily.” He said he was informed that the black spots are not an indicator of mold, but usually are dirt spots and can be wiped away with a diluted mixture of bleach and water — noting even if it is black mold, the remedy is the same.

McKay said EMTEC has applauded the county’s efforts so far, noting they like the germicidal lights installed in all four HVAC units. While the HVAC fans are running the air is being cleaned. The key is to place the unit on “run” and not auto. McKay said this is a proven remedy for disease control in any area, but especially in those departments who handle a lot of public traffic.

McKay noted in the email he will be setting up an appointment with EMTEC to do a “walk-through and further needs assessment.”

“We all know the roof has to be fixed, and the spring rains are right around the corner. The county maintenance department stands ready to do whatever can be done to improve this situation,” McKay said.

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