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Water damage at Williamsport City Hall may lead to temporary exit

Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter shows some of the water damage on the third floor of City Hall. KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Mold is growing in Williamsport City Hall and the air odor was so foul last week that it had some employees gagging.

The air quality was better but stagnant Monday after emergency cleaning efforts, but the situation may result in City Hall employees having to be temporarily relocated to another city-owned building or buildings depending on the results of air and mold tests to be done this week, Mayor Derek Slaughter said.

Water poured down walls from portions of the leaking roof. The asbestos-covered drainage systems also broke.

“We have mold issues, odor, and the walls are literally melting,” Slaughter said.

“The immediate future need is to ensure the health and safety of employees, elected officials and civilians,” he said.

The building remains open but it is recommended the public stay away, he said.

The roof leak and duct work backing up dates back several prior administrations and progressively has gotten worse.

Slaughter stressed he was not putting blame on the prior administrations or councils.

He used his fingers to pull some of the drywall off the wall in a room known as the George Kadash Library on the third floor.

Molds are very common and grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows or pipes, or where there has been flooding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mold can be a health risk for those susceptible to breathing related issues such as asthma and can cause sicknesses and death, the CDC said.

Because of these health issues, a grievance was filed by the union representing at least 13 city employees, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2674, said Keith Segraves, union president and traffic control and facilities manager with streets and parks department. Any grievance filed would end should the city take the right steps to protect the workers, he said.

Council President Randall J. Allison said the immediate primary concern is, of course, the safety and health of the employees and elected officials that work in City Hall.

To address that, he said, the administration with council input has moved ahead with the plans, if needed, to relocate those who work in City Hall, including the police department, and have engaged the company to assess the damage and monitor the air quality throughout the building.

“We will then discuss the findings and develop the plan to address them,” Allison said.

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