Heavy rains damage efforts to renovate Newberry County Courthous - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Heavy rains damage efforts to renovate Newberry County Courthouse


Water damage, constant leaks, and now possible mold have rendered parts of the Newberry County Courthouse unusable. Employees are now concerned about their jobs and their health.

Newberry County officials say renovations started last May but lasting, heavy rains and a full courthouse schedule have put them behind. But some say this historic building is in desperate need of repair and it cannot wait.

"We've just had to run from water for so long," said Clerk of Court Jackie Bowers.

Bowers says for several years, offices, files, and employees have had to move out of the courthouse because of growing water damage.

"We have experienced either mold or mildew, bad mildew problems on the walls and all areas of the courthouse," said Bowers.

You can see it and smell it. Six large air purifiers are on all the time in different rooms of the courthouse to help filter the air.

"We're to the point that we feel like there may be some health or safety issues involved if we don't act really quickly," said Bowers.

Some of the paint looks more like wallpaper from all the moisture. Some spots on the walls are soft to the touch. There is water in light fixtures. Sections of the courtroom are taped off because of recurring leaks.

"I actually had to send a juror home wet because of the leak up there," said Bowers. "We're just trying to get through this week and stay dry."

Contractors are currently working on the roof. The basement is off limits and Bowers says the constant leaks are interrupting day-to-day business.

"Council has made efforts to try to correct the problem at times and, you know, I think they've had public works trying to fix the problem, but we feel like we're getting to the point we're unable to efficiently operate the court system," said Bowers.

County officials say they do have the funding to fix the damages, but it takes time to get it right. They want it "done right and done well."

"As long as we neglect the problem, it's not going away," said Bowers. "And it's just going to get worse."

The Newberry County Administrator's Office says the roof should be complete by September and the work in the basement should start in the next couple months.

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