EDWARDSVILLE – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will have to sell bonds to fund its recent mold removal in three residence halls, but the lawsuit against the contractors who built it is still under way. SIUE spent $10 million over the summer to remove mold from three residence halls, including one that just opened in 2001. The mold was caused by moisture buildup within the walls, according to university officials.
SIUE spokesman Greg Conroy said 30 students were referred to health professionals for possible mold-related complaints last year. “All but one (of the doctors) said it was not serious,” Conroy said.
This week, SIU will issue $40 million in bonds, folding in the mold removal with two renovation projects on the Carbondale campus. The bonds were rushed to get in before an anticipated interest rate increase, according to acting SIU president Duane Stuckey, but the university’s credit remains good. “An institution of our nature can do no better than this,” he said. “We maintain the highest rating that is, for all practical purposes, available to us.”
However, Stuckey said he “remains hopeful” the university will recover its costs in the lawsuit, which is pending in Madison County courts. SIU general counsel Jerry Blakemore declined to give specifics of the case. “The lawyers are doing their lawyering,” he said.
The bond sale comes a few days after the residence halls were wet again, when a malfunctioning sprinkler went off Tuesday in Woodland Hall. But Conroy said the accident would not renew the mold problem. “They were amazed at how little damage it caused,” Conroy said.
Another lawsuit still pending is SIUE’s insurance company vs. O’Fallon Electric Co. and Elk Heating & Sheet Metal of Wood River, over a 2002 fire in Cougar Village. The insurance company claimed a $700,000 loss after a student apartment building burned, leaving 30 students without housing.
Conroy said despite the current publicity, the residence halls are in good shape.
BY ELIZABETH DONALD