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Board of Health discusses problems with facilities

County officials to speak with city officials about odors in former library
By Xiomara Levsen | Dec 19, 2013

At the Washington County Board of Health meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 18, concerns about the former Washington library were discussed.

Roberta Sloat, supervisor for the Family Connections program, spoke about some of the concerns patients have voiced to her about odors in the building.

“It’s an inconsistent smell,” she said. “Some days it’s only a mild odor and some days it starts mild and then it just kind of swarms over the course of the afternoon and that’s what happened on the particular weekday when I had two families stop in my office and say, ‘What is going on?’ ”

Maintenance people from the city have looked into the issue, Sloat said. They have told her to pour water down the traps, which Sloat said she has done and has helped.

“Has anyone pulled the stool and checked the stool, from the city?” asked Washington County Public Health board chairman Dr. Lloyd Holm.

Sloat said no but the same maintenance person came back and put a smoke bomb in the pipes to see if any smoke was escaping, and couldn’t find anything.

“This is the maintenance guy?” asked board member Ron Bennett.

“Yes,” Sloat said.

“I just saw one of the bomb things in action the other day. Those things do work,” Bennett said.

“So we have a stink bomb instead of a smoke bomb?” Holm asked. “So we do need to address it.”

Sloat thinks the BOH needs to look into the issue further.

Holm asked Washington County Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. what the best way would be to address the issue with the city, especially since the city is the landlord of the building.

Bennett said to begin by speaking with the city administrator, Brent Hinson.

Jennine Wolf suggested the board reach out to Steve Donnolly, Washington’s building and zoning administrator.

“That would have to come from the city, though,” Holm said, “not from us bypassing the city, since they’re the landlord, I would think.”

“Well, and we have had conversations,” said Public Health administrator Danielle Pettit-Majewski. “I just want to bring this to attention again when we had the complaint about the formaldehyde.”

When a complaint was made about the formaldehyde smell Pettit-Majewski said the city offered for the public health department to pay for the repairs to the ventilation system in the building.

This situation is different because it has something to do with the plumbing, Holm said. The previous complaint was a vague formaldehyde concern.

“But I also think that this brings up the opportunity to discuss again the need for a new space,” Pettit-Majewski said, “because the plumbing is not the only issue with that space. There are HIPAA compliance issues, privacy issues.”

The first thing that needs to be done is for Bennett and Seward to contact the city on Pettit-Majewski’s behalf with the concerns stemming from the sewer smell, Holms said.

Then Holms asked Pettit-Majewski about the history of the search for a new space.

“I have talked with Steve Olson,” she said. “He was on the building committee previously with Edie [Nebel] and so I have talked with him and we have got a meeting set up for January to discuss bringing that back up again and getting more folks involved.”

She has looked at the space Kirkwood Community College uses and the ASSURE Center are using and said it was another old building. She also looked at the YMCA, but it was too big and the renovations to get it ready would cost too much.

“You thought 8,000 to 10,000 [sq. ft.] would be depending upon how it was laid out,” Holm said.

The plans in the past were for that square footage, Bennett said.

Board member Chris Grier asked Pettit-Majewski if she has seen the Kirkwood building and the ASSURE center. She said she looked at it when she toured the building with Leadership Washington but there were a number or issues she saw with the two buildings.

Pettit-Majewski also said the cost of renovating the spaces to make them workable would be something to consider. In addition, she said the buildings were older and were separate from each other.

“I would very much like for our whole department to be able to be in one space,” she said.

“But that sure would be much more workable than what you have now,” Bennett said.

Pettit-Majewski agreed with Bennett but asked the board to consider looking into the options for space and possibly a new building.

Holms asked if a realtor was consulted yet for potential places the department could go, and Bennett said in the past they were.

Peggy Wood, the fiscal administrator for the department, said there have been several discussions with realtors with several open locations in town, but spacing and timing weren’t right.

A committee was formed to look into the possibility of relocating the Washington County Department of Public Health and to review the plans for a new building.

Other items covered at the meeting included:

update in the Rubio/Richmond septic systems. Richmond is at a standstill, Wolf said. There are 15 property owners who have yet to get on board with septic systems, but a lot of that has to do with funding issues. Holm asked Seward about the June 1 deadline and Seward said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wouldn’t budge on that deadline. A letter to update the DNR from Washington County Environmental Health Department was sent to the Washington County Attorney’s office three months ago but still hadn’t been sent on by the county attorney. Holm said he would contact the county attorney’s office;

an update from Wolf as the floodplain administrator. She found out the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) gave the Riverside VFW a grant to build a berm to prevent floodwaters getting into the building. However, the VFW will have to apply for permits with the DNR and the Corps of Engineers before any work can begin;

and heard from Jason Taylor about the new food inspection database for Iowa. There are 57 questions on the new form, which will be all online. People will pay for their license online and the state will reimburse the county. This new process will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The next board meeting will be held on Jan. 15, 2014, in the fifth-floor conference room of Federation Bank at 11:30 a.m.



Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Dec 19, 2013 19:27

Add a cup of bleach to a gallon of hot water that you pour down the drains. That will cut the odor. Do that once a week or so.

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