Mold discovered growing in Rockingham Town Hall

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BELLOWS FALLS — Town employees have discovered mold growing in the town hall's air conditioning system.

Town Manager Wendy Harrison reported the problem to the Rockingham Select Board this week, and the board gave Harrison the go-ahead to hire a firm to clean up the mold.

Harrison estimated costs to be $20,000 to $25,000 for eliminating the mold. She had asked for permission to exceed the manager's $15,000 limit for independent expenditures.

Harrison said the problem was discovered as employees started removing the town hall's air conditioning units after the summer season. The mold was tested and confirmed on both the second and third floor of the town hall.

The Bellows Falls Opera House, which is on the first floor of the building, has its own air conditioning and ventilation system, she said, and was not affected by the mold problem.

The mold was tested and found to be worst in the listers' office, which is on the third floor. The listers' office probably has the least amount of ventilation of any offices in the building, Harrison said.

She said there have been no reported illnesses as a result of the mold, and that she has encouraged town hall employees to open the building's windows to try and improve the air quality in the interim.

Harrison said she has filed a claim with the town's insurance policy, but she isn't sure how much coverage the town will receive. If needed, there is money left over in an account set aside for town hall repairs.

"We want to get it done as soon as possible," Harrison said.

She said the contractors who handle mold removal are busy at this time of year. Several schools in Vermont are coping with mold conditions and have either closed and moved operations or restricted use of buildings.

During the discussion of the mold problem, the board returned to the topic of leaks in the town hall roof and how quickly the leaks can be fixed, even with cold weather coming.

"If it's leaking, let's fix it," Select Board member Gaetano Putignano said.

Public Works Director Everett Hammond said October would probably be the earliest the mold-abatement contractor could come to look at the mold problem at the Rockingham Town Hall.

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