Lexington County’s courthouse is closed again for at least two weeks while environmental workers look for mold. This new closure – the second in nine months – was ordered Friday by Circuit Judge Marc Westbrook, the county’s chief administrative judge. The courthouse and adjacent solicitor’s building will be shut down until Aug. 26. The county has hired two companies – Risk Tech and PathCon Laboratories of Atlanta – to conduct mold testing. The county paid Risk Tech, formerly Azimuth Consultants of Charleston, $400,000 to clean and remove mold from both buildings last December.
County leaders had planned to test the building this month as a routine follow-up after the building reopened Jan. 2. The new tests will be more extensive than first planned, county Administrator Art Brooks said. About 30 sites will be tested by both companies – more than double what was done before. The new testing will cost the county about $30,000, Brooks said. County officials had planned to spend about $3,000 on testing before the decision was made to increase the probe. Brooks said the county tested air quality when the courthouse re-opened in January and found it better than outside air. He said there is mold everywhere. “It is the concentration of that mold that makes a difference,” he said.
Tests were completed Monday and results are expected by next week. Some officials said they will wait for new test results before passing judgement on Risk Tech’s work. “It’s such a touchy legal situation now,” Council member David James said. Brooks said the Charleston company came highly recommended. The company has worked with several hospitals, including Providence Hospital in Columbia and successfully supervised a clean up of Buena Vista Elementary School in Greenville three years ago. The Lexington County Courthouse is 82 years old. A new courthouse is being built, but will not be open until November 2003.
Written by Vicki Shealy