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Newspaper Archive of
N. Warren Town and County News
Norwalk, Iowa
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December 17, 2015     N. Warren Town and County News
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December 17, 2015
 

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Thursday, December 17, 2015 N/Warren Townand County News Page l leven LETTER Concluded from p. 8 about sewer gas. This is just one manifestation of the neglect and lack of maintenance of the courthouse that continues to ex- pose our employees and the public to unhealthy condi- tions. I came away from the May 27, 2015 meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors with the un- derstanding that all of the potentially hazardous condi- tions in the courthouse identified in the KJWW Reports would be remediated. However, it is my understand- ing that these conditions are still present in the court- house. These conditions include: 1. Backflow preventers. "There is no reduced pres- sure zone type backflow preventer "(BFP) installed in the main domestic water service line...The makeup water connection to the boilers is directly connected to the domestic water system with no BFP...There are sev- eral direct connections from the domestic water system to chemical feeders serving the laundry and janitorial equipment." These "potentially hazardous condition{s}, could allow chemically treated water to flow back into the domestic water system." (KJWW Plumbing Report, p. 4 of 10). 2. Hot water mixing valve. "Hot water should be stored at or above 140 F to minimize the risk of Legionella bacteria in the domestic hot water system since showers are in use in the jail area. A hot water mixing valve should be installed to temper the hot wa- ter down to approximately 120 F." (KJWW Plumbing Report, p.5 of 10). Legionella bacteria cause Legionnaire's Disease. This is a potentially hazardous condition. 3. Asbestos. "While KJWW is not a qualified asbes- tos investigator, some pipe insulation was observed that could possibly contain asbestos. This should be re- Electrical, and Fire Protection Evaluation, and Jail Ar- chitectural Assessment dated April 16, 2015 prepared by KJWW and SVPA Architects, Inc. ("KJWW-SVPA Report") identified "numerous general issues of con- cern" and made "findings related to deficiencies, inad- equacies and securi , concerns." (KJWW-SVPA Report, p. 2 of 15). To our knowledge, these concerns including some code violations have not been addressed. We have been informed of a fire in the courthouse/jail building on November 7, 2015 due to a dryer vent not being cleaned out on a regular basis. Fire safety is a major con- cern. 5. Leaks. On March 1, 2013, I entered an order clos- ing the Warren County Clerk of Court's Office on an emergency basis due to a severe leak of contaminated water that soaked our files, carpet, furniture and equip- ment. "Leaks have been noted by staff and some patch- ing has been attempted. It was noted that any additional attempts at patching would likely not be possible in many areas due to the pipe conditions." (KJWW Plumb- ing Report, p. 2 of 10, 6 of 10). Leaks need to be promptly stopped and water damage needs to be repaired. There is currently a leak of contaminated water in Judge Parker's courtroom. The carpet has been soaked and has not been properly cleaned or replaced. Leaks are an on- going hazard to the health of our staff and the public assessing the judicial services in Warren County. 6. Air Quality. Mustiness and mold is an ongoing health concern in many areas of our court facilities even after repairs to the roof and exterior windows of the courthouse. An Indoor Air Quality Survey dated Sep- tember 3, 2015 by Iowa Environmental Services, Inc. (Air Quality Survey") found elevated levels of carbon diox- viewed by a qualified asbestos mitigation company." ide, relative humidity and mold with microtoxins that (KJWW Plumbing Report p. 9 of 10): Friable asbestos is can affect people with lung diseases, weakened immune system or compro.mis_ed r_e, spir0tory syste .ms Mq,is ure a health hazard. To our knowledge the courthouse has not been reviewed by a qualified asbestos mitigation company to determine if people are being exposed to asbestos fibers. 4. Fire Safety. A Warren County Courthouse and Jail, "- BAMBINO'S RESTAURANT'-" 2025Grand-Ave., West DesMeines bn 1995-2015 COME CELEBRATE WITH US. Tues: Discounted homemade fried chicken Wed: HalFoff pizza Thurs: All-you.can-eat spaghetU, no cork fee TU .-Fri., 11 aim, to close; SaL, 4 p.m. to close was identified as the primary factor controlling biologi- cal growth. "The readings obtained during the Indoor Air Quality Study would appear to indicate that the air handling system for the building is inadequate and should be reviewed. The air handling system should be adjusted to adequately lower the current relative hu- mi tity levels and dioxide levels (in- crease fresh air intake)." (Air Qu ality Surve3 p. 4). This is consistent with the findings of KJWW-SVPA, "We recommend the air handlors be removed and replaced with a dedicated outdoor air unit to provide Interna- tional Mechanical Code required outside airflow di- rectly to the rooms. This approach would utilize the cooling only fan coil units and the perimeter radian heat." (KJWW-SVPA R port, p. i i2:6"f 15). This problem has been going on for more than a decade. I have re- cently been informed that Warren County is cleaning the HVAC ducts. This is welcome help. But the source of the problem, moisture, also needs to be addressed. Here atRegency Assisted Living, we give you the of assistance all year round. You get to live life while we take care ofthe cleaning, cooking, laundry., and even dealing with the cable man! If y0u0r a loved one are thinking about assisted it pays to d,seo er .Regency, Regency 7. Court Security. Representatives of the court, the county and the Sheriff met several times last year to dis- cuss ongoing courthouse security concerns. These meet- ings were prompted by a serious security incident in Madison County and our prediction that a similar inci- dent is likely to occur in Warren County. We understood that ingress and egress to the courthouse would be lim- ited to a single point of entry staffed by the Sheriff to screen for firearms and other dangerous weapons. The Sheriff was going to hire additional staff for this pur- pose. We also understood that building medications would be constructed to enhance security. We were hopeful this necessary security would be in place by the beginning of this fiscal year, July 1, 2015. It has not happened. At a minimum, the Sheriff should provide an armed deputy on each of the second and third floors of the courthouse at all times when court is in session, tt is my understanding that the Sheriff has assigned depu- ties to cover the courts, but not at all times when court is in session. The Sheriff should coordinate with our judges and staff to determine when the presence of deputies is required. 8. Maintenance. In addition to all of the well-docu- mented safety and security issues at the Warren County Courthouse, there is also a chronic neglect and lack of maintenance of the building. Recent infestations of mice and gnats in our court facilities demonstrate that War- ren County does not properly maintain the courthouse. We have been given inconsistent information about the source of the gnats. We have been told they are sewer gnats entering the building because the floor drains and plumbing vents are not maintained. We have also been told the gnats come from rotting garbage in the base- ment sally port. Either this is unacceptable. We re- quire proper maintenance of the courthouse to provide a safe and healthy environment for court. We cor mefid:Warren County for commissioning the reports and studies that document so many urgent health and safety concerns. Again, we appreciate the work of ShiveHattery and the Judicial Building Com- mittee. We believe a new courthouse must be con- structed in Warren County not only for current needs, but for long-term growth in :War ma Count. But_thJ.s project will take years to complete if it is approved by the voters of Warren County in a bond referendum. While it is tempting to defer maintenance on a court- house that may eventually be abandoned, it is our de- sire to remain in the Warren County Courthouse until new facilities can be built. Unfortunately,, the Warren County Courthouse in its current conditionis not hab- itable for occupancy by the courts. We recognize the authority of the county to "provide courtrooms, offices, and other physical facilities Which in the judgment of the board of supervisors are suitable for the district court." Iowa Code section 602.1303(1)(b). But we strongly disagree that the current condition of the Warren CountyCourthouse is suitable for the op- eration of our court. We notify the Warren County Board of Supervisors that we are approaching a point where the court cannot function in the Warren County Court- house due to a default in appropriate funding for main- tenance and repairs. I have already had to close the Warren County courts twice in recent years. We want nothing more than harmonious cooperation between the court and the county to resolve these issues. However, our court cannot continue to function indefinitely with stop-gap measures in response to serious health, safety and security concerns. Therefore, the Fifth Judicial District of Iowa demands that Warren County take appropriate action to repair the plumbing, HVAC, fire, courthouse security and maintenance deficiencies identified in this letter on a realistic timetable that demonstrates Warren County's commitment. Please take note of our requirements and contact us for a meeting to discuss a way forward that will resolve these issues in a manner that is acceptable both to the county and the court. Yours truly, /s/ARTHUR E. GAMBLE, Chief Judge Fifth Judicial District of Iowa Cc: All 5A District Court Judges Judge Kevin Parker Judge Mark Schlenker Cathie Hullinger, Warren County Clerk of Court John Criswell, Warren County Attorney Brian Voss, Warren County Sheriff Justice David Wiggins, Liaison Justice Iowa Supreme Court David Boyd, State Court Administrator