ATHENS, Texas – An insatiable green menace lurks in state District Judge Jack Holland’s courtroom. It creeps from behind the wooden benches, across the attorneys’ tables and into the judge’s very seat. But this heinous offender can’t be locked behind bars or issued costly citations.
Aspergillus, a fuzzy green mold, has taken over this East Texas courthouse and has workers complaining of headaches, heightened allergies and difficulty breathing. And now, another insidious irritant has joined the fray – traces of the black mold stachybotrys, a potentially lethal fungus.
Both stachybotrys and the green mold are feeding from the dampened air of the 89-year-old building’s faulty air conditioning system. The system allows humidity levels inside some parts of the Henderson County courthouse to remain at up to 90 percent during the summer.
The district courtroom has been closed since July. Judge Holland has kept his office in the building, but court proceedings are being temporarily held elsewhere. County officials say they expect to spend $800,00 or more to get rid of the mold and to replace the air system.