Pike County supervisors said Wednesday they will wait on results from mold tests before proceeding with plans to convert a building on South Cherry Street, Magnolia, into public defender headquarters.
County administrator Tami Dangerfield said once that’s done, county employees can do other interior work, like carpeting and painting, for no more than $3,000. Results from mold tests should be in in a week or two, she said.
But Supervisor Tazwell Bowsky, who earlier voted against the project, cited a letter from public defender Paul Luckett saying he was not notified of a building inspection in time to attend. Rather, Supercvisor Robert Accardo contacted Luckett’s assistant, Nelson Estess, thinking Estess was in charge of the department.
“Sounds like you didn’t do your due diligence, sir,” Bowsky told Accardo, who didn’t respond.
Bowsky accused Accardo of telling Estess that public defenders could have a room formerly used by a county supervisor, and that Accardo said the building would go to the public defeneders before supervisors had voted to that effect.
Bowsky also said the building must have high-speed internet and be handicap accessible. And it must be clear of mold before public defenders move in.
Dangerfield said handicap accessibility was handled when the election commission occupied the building. Other supervisors agreed with Bowsky about the mold issue.
“For sure we need to see how the mold situation goes before we spend any money,” said Supervisor Lee Fortenberry.
Bowsky asked board attorney Wayne Dowdy who would be responsible if an employee occupied the building and became sick or died from mold exposure.
Dowdy said that’s a “gray area” and that the county’s insurance company would represent the county in such a case.
Other than Bowsky, supervisors indicated they were ready to proceed with fixing the building up as soon as they get a clean report on mold.
“Nothing will be done until we get that mold report back,” said board president Sam Hall.
In other business, supervisors:
• At the request of Supervisor Jake Gazzo, asked board attorney Wayne Dowdy to look over a proposed franchise agreement from C-Spire to provide internet service in rural areas.
• Noted the hiring of part-time mosquito sprayer Charles McKnight and the discharge of Stephanie Hawkins from the road department.
• Approved payments to Neel-Schaffer totaling $20,360, including December and March invoices.
• Asked Dowdy to look over a draft policy permitting employees to donate medical leave time to other employees.
• Agreed to watch a webinar on erosion control materials from Gro-Green of Osyka at the next board meeting.