Guest Commentary by Tamara Warren; Eureka, CA
Madera, CA – Madera County will clean and remove mold in the government center, rather than spend $10,000 to study the problem.
County Administrator Stell Manfredi said Wednesday that workers will concentrate on a women’s restroom in the east wing of the 91-year-old structure. Supervisors also want to repair “deterioration” in four courtrooms.
The board approved the cleanup, and “no testing was directed,” Manfredi said.
Supervisor John V. Silva advised, after touring the mold-infested areas, that the county should avoid spending $10,000 for a proposed mold study to confirm what officials already know.
Manfredi said the cleanup would be done “in-house” by the county’s specialists. The county has employees to maintain its 30 buildings.
The money would be an advance expenditure from the 2002-2003 building maintenance budget.
A 1999 study found that the mold posed no health threat; the air inside the affected rooms was no different from the air outside.
But the complaints have continued.
Two recent letters from Court Executive Officer Janet Gallagher called the board’s attention to the mold. The courts share the east wing with county government offices.
A fire in 1998 destroyed the entire west wing of the building that had been recycled into a government center in the 1950s. The building had been an elementary school since 1911, but state-mandated earthquake requirements ended its use for students.
In 1999, Madera County Superior Court Judge Charles A. Wieland complained that “an offensive stagnant smell” pervaded the entire east wing, which had some smoke damage but was untouched by the 1998 fire.
Wieland noted to supervisors that “festering molds” in one courtroom were blamed for an unspecified illness attacking the judge and the courtroom staff.
The board in 1999 ordered a study, but supervisors were reluctant to pour money into a structure that they were hoping to replace.
Manfredi said he soon will present the board with a request to begin a six-month design phase for the new $25 million to $30 million government center. The county will receive $18 million from state tobacco penalty revenues.
Many courtrooms across the country are suffering the effects of mold problems and currently conducting studies. Sometimes the cost is too high and they have decided to do nothing about the problem. Some counties take responsibility and remediate the mold problem.
These shameful counties have hired unscrupulous environmental specialists to conceal the problems in order to downplay the problems. These environmental specialists are known for working for school districts and insurance companies to conceal mycotoxin producing mold. It is nice to see that Madera County take responsibility for the health of others.