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Berkeley to evaluate bad-air buildings

February 08, 2001|By BOB PARTLOW

Berkeley to evaluate bad-air buildings



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County officials will evaluate two more buildings for possible bad air problems.

The county has determined the air is bad at the administrative building at 126 W. King St. It is spending about $10,000 to try to fix the problems. But employees at the building next door at 110 W. King St. are complaining about similar problems.

"We're going to discuss this Thursday (today) at the commission meeting," said Commission President Howard Strauss. "If we're going to do any of these buildings, we should do the rest." He said the commissioners also probably will test the air quality in the Courthouse at 100 W. King St. That building had numerous bad air and other problems in the late 1990s, but many of those were fixed.

The buildings at 126 and 110 W. King St. were purchased from the former One Valley Bank in 1995. Big air cleaners operate all the time at the 126 W. King building to try to minimize the problems. Employees there have complained about allergies. The same complaints come from employees in the Circuit Court Clerk's office.

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"I asked (Strauss) to do something about it, but he said I should put it in my budget request," said Circuit Court Clerk Virginia Sine. She said she is concerned about the health of the workers in the office.

"It just seems weird" that employees will have allergy-type problems while they are working in the basement office, then have them disappear when they leave, said Karen Sunderlin, deputy circuit clerk. She said that's her situation.

Strauss said he first thought the new concerns in the 110 W. King St. building arose because of all the talk about problems at 126. But he said this week that it's time to get answers about all possible air problems in all the buildings.

"I'm not sure if there are problems or if there are not problems," Strauss said. "But these are legitimate concerns and the only way to know is to test, and to test both buildings at the same time."

The county plans to pump outside air into the building at 126 W. King. Only one of the county-owned buildings has a regular supply of outside air, said Facilities Manager Walt Davis.

If the $10,000 solution to the problem at the 126 W. King St. building doesn't work, a consultant has prepared a report that indicates up to $200,000 might be needed to fix the building. That would involve at least a partial gutting of the building.

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