Old hospital, big problem
By Art Lawler
Oops, here's a solution that just might not work.
The hospital solution, that is -- the idea that the county could just move its archives from the old buildings behind the old jail to the old Henderson County Memorial Hospital. All you'd have to do then is level the old buildings and begin expansion of the county juvenile facility in that space.
The idea, as you may not have read, is to free up space so the current juvenile facility can be expanded at its current location. This is County Judge David Holstein's plan to save a million bucks to put toward jail expansion, and still come up with the building renovations the county must have to come into the 21st century.
The century is more than four-years old now. The county isn't joining it any time too soon.
At last Monday's meeting, several suggestions were made for moving the records. One idea, Holstein's, is to go ahead and build the archives building on the southeast corner near the old jail. Should take less than a year. Then, just make the transfer.
Another idea, this one from Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Hall, is to move the records to the Pct. 5 building in Malakoff. All you have to move is some occasionally illegal 8-liner machines that have been confiscated. Maybe take them to an area where they're legal. Just thinking out loud here...
Pct. 4 Commissioner Jerry West suggested moving the records to the old hospital.
Well, West has gained the support of Pct. 4 voters for years with his Scrooge-like stance on county dollars. You might pry a few bills out of his tight-fisted hands, but you better be prepared to make your case that each of those dollars is going for a sacred county cause.
The other three commissioners and the judge have similar philosophies on stinginess with your tax dollars. They'd rather be runover by a lawnmower than call for a tax increase. But they'll spend money if they think it'll save money in the long run. Not saying West won't, but make sure you do your homework. He's crabby about this stuff.
Nevertheless, I don't see how West is going to convince the others to store those records at the old hospital.
I base my prediction on a tour of the facility Hall and I took Tuesday -- with flashlights. First thing we did was stop by Judge Holstein's office to pick up the keys -- keys which didn't seem to fit in any door. Not that it mattered.
We just stepped through an open window a few feet away from the front door and began our tour. This wasn't the only entrance. Windows all around the ghostpital are open. So are some doors.
We're not the only people to have toured the facility in recent times, either. Some people may be living there, or at least using it as a weekend retreat, or as a place to party in an inner-sanctum left to the ghosts more than 20 years ago.
Graffiti is spread throughout. Old beer bottles, water bottles, some of them not that old, can be found at numerous locations.There would seem to be no electricity in the building. But that's just because you haven't turned on the right light switch.
Hit the right one, several light bulbs shine forth. Somebody has been doing their own electrical work, and they found some "hot" spots in some of the light fixtures. How could that be? You can even find some fluorescent lights that work.
Then there's the plumbing. Some of these fixtures look as if they haven't seen water in 20 years. Others, well, flush the toilet, and it flushes just like the potty in your home.
Turn on some faucets, nothing comes out. Turn on others, a small stream of water comes out. Turn on still other faucets and the water literally gushes out.
Lets see, water, home made electricity, mold, falling ceilings, asbestos, liability...
Want to move some county records over there?
Leaks can be found above the hanging ceilings, and it's those leaks that have resulted in evidence of mold throughout the building. We're talking nasty stuff, here.
Is it active mold, or just dormant mold? Remember our lessons in mold-ery? How active it is, probably depends on how long it's been since the last rain.
Some areas of the hospital are suprisingly clean. We found a bathtub that looked like someone had cleaned it in the last 24 hours. A ghost, maybe?
But how do you store records in a building that can't realistically be sealed off -- not without great expense, anyway? And is this county really ready to take on another major mold project? Do the commissioners want to try justifying a new air-conditioning system?
Our lungs started to ache in about 10 minutes. Granted, it could have been psychosomatic. Wear a Hazmat suit, just in case.
I applaud West for his suggestion. He's always trying, God bless him. But I'm afraid, as Ann Richards likes to say, "That ol' dog won't hunt."
Hall's idea isn't much better, I'm afraid. His suggestion for moving the records to Malakoff is inconvenient for Sheriff's Department officials who go to those records on average, three times a week.
Just wondering, but if the records have held up in the old buildings this long, why not just start on the new building and move the records to it when it's finished? There's more than enough in the budget to get this rather simple building project done. Why not just do it?
Granted, the old buildings could go up in flames tomorrow, destroying all those olds records the state wants preserved.
Wouldn't that be a crying shame now. http://www.athensr...27/news/news15.txt