Residents who headed down to the News last week to conduct business found the office doors closed and signs redirecting them to the Fairway Room. Instead of sandwiches, soups and salads, the space once reserved for the Creekside Café is now serving up news.
The call came in Jan. 17: After tests conducted on the air in the News office indicated the presence of high levels of mold, staff was told to vacate immediately.
The following day, the employees of the News returned to new, albeit temporary, quarters in the Fairway Room. With rapid dispatch, Trust Operations workers, conducted by Foreman John Raith, the custodial staff, as well as Joe Bruzdzinski and Debi Tallerico from Information Systems set to work moving computers and helping set up the makeshift office so staff could get back to work in time to get out the next edition of the News.
But setting up phone lines and getting all the computers back on the Internet server quickly is not a task that can be accomplished in a day, or even two. The lack of Internet access created a handicap to the process, especially when residents have become accustomed to e-mailing much of their copy, as have advertisers. This problem, however, was also temporary and all lines are now up and running.
For now, the management, production, editorial, advertising and reception functions of the News will all be conducted in one room. What the future will bring is as up in the air as the spores of mold that precipitated the move.
Flooding precipitates move The rains that saw in the New Year also saw their way into the News offices, leaving behind more than damp carpeting. Although the carpets were replaced with linoleum, a specialist in mold inspections was brought in to check the condition of the building as a whole.
The specialist tested the air, then sent the samples out to a lab. Six days later, after hearing the results, GRF CEO Steve Adams called News Manager Maureen O'Rourke with the word that the building was contaminated and employees had to leave.
As a precautionary measure, the specialist has been asked to return to check other buildings in the surrounding area. Results from those tests should be in at the end of the month or early in February.
“As soon as we get his (the specialist's) reports and know the magnitude of what we're dealing with, then we can make recommendations to the Board,” Adams said.
Any building with mold cannot be used unless remedial work has been done, Adams said. But until the scope of the contamination is known, staff will not be able to make a recommendation as to what to do about it.
As for the News, the Fairway Room is a stopgap until staff and the Board are able to determine where best to place the office. “We are already looking into options to relocate on a temporary basis,” Adams said.
News Managing Editor Maureen O'Rourke is asking that residents remain patient while the News tries to work out the logistics of an unconventional workspace. “We are trying to operate as normally as possible in very strange conditions,” she said. “My employees are working on tables instead of desks and without their files, but have been real troopers during the entire process.”
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Pure Air Control Services, Inc.