10/06/04 — Mold invades Duplin courhouse

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Mold invades Duplin courhouse

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 6, 2004 2:01 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Mold is growing in the Duplin County Courthouse, and county employees are concerned.

Even employees in the courthouse annex have found mold, and the clerk of court and register of deeds in that section of the courthouse are watching the books in more ways than one.

The deed books, too, are growing mold.

County Planner Mike Aldridge said the process of vacating the original part of the courthouse has begun, but the annex is going to have to wait.

Duplin County Register of Deeds Davis Brinson told commissioners Monday that his staff has been running dehumidifiers. The staff in his office has emptied 18 gallons of water a day from the dehumidifiers, he said.

Brinson said he bought two humidity monitors. State archives officials recommend 45 percent humidity as ideal, and 55 percent is the highest it should be. For three days last week, Brinson said, his vault was at 80 percent humidity.

"I saw sustained mold growth on the books," he said.

Aldridge said Tuesday that he looked at it, and some mold showed up in the clerk's office. He hadn't known there was a problem in the courthouse annex. But he said he found mold on a dozen of the hundreds of books there.

"We're hoping the climate change remedies the situation until we can get to it," he said. He doesn't know whether the problem is air circulation or not enough light coming through. He said the dehumidifiers in the vault should help.

Meanwhile, the original part of the courthouse is a priority.

The leaking roof had been causing a mold problem. It was repaired earlier this year. Water had come into the main courtroom last year. A judge placed the county under a mandate to fix it quickly, and all court proceedings were moved.

The county has to remove the asbestos first and get out all of the lead paint and mold in the original courthouse, then will come the demolition inside and finally the renovations.

"It will pretty much be gutted, in the courtroom particularly," said Aldridge. "Then, another contractor will come in with a clean slate to do the renovations."

The architect estimates it will probably cost around $970,000 to repair the original courthouse.