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Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2001

Renovation work has court employees fuming ––— Fumes from concrete sealant causes sickness, closure of offices

August 2, 2001

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Windows were opened to vent the building, 111 E. 11th St. Officials will decide this morning if offices for the District Court Clerk and Court Services will reopen today.

"This has been an inconvenience to the public and the lawyers," Douglas County Chief Judge Mike Malone said Wednesday morning as he sat in his office near a window opened wide. "It's just been very frustrating."

The fumes were especially noticeable in the northeast corner of the main floor, one floor below renovation work.

Because the building was closed overnight, fumes had gained strength Wednesday morning, Malone said. By day's end, the problem had lessened somewhat.

Some employees in the court clerk's office were sent home Tuesday because of the fumes, but the office remained open with a skeleton staff until regular closing time at 3 p.m., Malone said.

Sharon Kang, a court trustee for Malone, worked all day Tuesday but was among those sent home Wednesday morning.

"I started getting a headache and a lump in my throat Tuesday," Kang said Wednesday, in a telephone interview from her bed at home. "I went to work this morning but had to leave at 9:30. My whole body felt like it had the flu. It would be worse when the air conditioner would come on."

County Administrator Craig Weinaug identified the sealant used as Seal Tight CS-309/20, an acceptable product, according to the project specifications.

The sealant must be used again later in the renovation project, Weinaug said. A way to use it without causing similar problems will be sought, he said.

Champion Builders, Topeka, is handling the $4 million renovation. The old county jail in the northeast corner of the top floor is being remodeled for office expansion.

Court workers have had to put up with some level of fumes and noise since the work began a few months ago, Malone said.

-- Staff writer Mike Belt can be reached at 832-7165.

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