2007-10-31 / Front Page

Employees complaining about mold at Willacy County courthouse

State sends technician to test selected areas
ROBERT WILCOX Reporter

INSPECTORS sent by the Texas Department of State Health Services may have uncovered several areas of mold in the Willacy County courthouse, including the womens restroom on the second floor. INSPECTORS sent by the Texas Department of State Health Services may have uncovered several areas of mold in the Willacy County courthouse, including the womens restroom on the second floor. The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) reportedly sent inspectors to test for mold at the Willacy County Courthouse, after receiving complaints from employees working in the building that was built in the early 1900s, according to sources at the courthouse.

Inspectors setup test equipment that monitors mold contamination. They also uncovered several areas where mold could be prevalent, including the womens bathroom on the second floor of the courthouse.

Ceiling tiles in the second floor of the courthouse have also been removed for testing.

Judge Pro-tem Emilio "Junior" Vera said he knows nothing about mold problems in the courthouse, and referred any questions to suspended County Judge Eliseo "Cheyo" Barnhart.

However, Barnhart was unavailable for questions.

The first step in determining if there is a problem according to the DSHS, is to perform a mold assessment. This involves an inspection of a building to evaluate whether mold growth is present, and to what extent.

Samples may be taken to determine the amount and types of mold that are present; however, sampling is not necessary in many cases.

The second step is for a mold assessment consultant to develop a mold remediation protocol (or plan), that specifies the estimated quantities and locations of materials to be remediated, and the proposed methods to use and clearance criteria that must be met, according to the DSHS.

The third step is for the commissioners to authorize remediation work at the courthouse to remedy any mold problems.

County employees with any health concerns should contact the county's health officer, according to Vera.

The Chronicle/News has submitted an open records request to obtain both the interim and final results of the DSHS testing. That request was still pending as of press time.

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