Mold Problems Continue To Plague Athens Courthouse

For several years, the Henderson County Courthouse has been dealing with a mold problem. First found in 1998, the problem was never fully fixed. Unsure, how much of the mold is, County Commissioners discussed the future of the courthouse and eased fears that county employees have about their health. "Everybody can agree and has agreed that there is something wrong," Commissioner Wade McKinney tells of the ongoing battle. "But, it's taken until this year to get a direction and a focus to having it addressed."

Finding a focus was the goal today. A Civil Engineer from Houston, Greg Becker, will help Commissioners determine how to rebuild the courthouse. But until a formal recommendation on how sick the building is comes through--commissioners are missing the key element on how to go about it. So far, tests confirm the courthouse is filled with a dangerous allergen called Aspergillius. While it's not toxic...folks like Debra Flowers say it's a danger to their health, "I have severe headaches, sinus conditions, congested head and have had to be on antibiotics frequently since I've worked there."

That's why five employees have been moved to other buildings. "Even though the Aspergillus mold is not fatal to you at this point," Flowers tells. "They don't know the long term affects. We had an employee meeting a week ago with Southwest Environmental and he said that people in our age category will be the guinea pigs."

But Aspergillus is not the only problem. Inside the computer room and basement, toxic black mold...Stachybotris was found in low levels--that was two years ago. Today, it's uncertain how much is left lingering, as is an answer on how to make this courthouse a safe place to work again.

The environmental mold tester, Dan Guiter, who's been testing the building in recent months...has been ill. Until he's able to meet with commissioners, we won't know what exact health risks employees at the Henderson County Courthouse have encountered.