The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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June 4, 2014

District court’s digs finally ready

FARRELL — The six-month exile for employees of Mercer County District Court in Farrell is coming to an end, said county Commissioner John N. Lechner.

County maintenance workers Tuesday started moving nonessential items from a storage container into the court building, he said.

While arrangements have to be made for installation of the computer system and reattaching the cable television line knocked down in a recent traffic crash, Lechner said he didn’t expect those things to take long.

“It looks like we should be operational by the end of the week or early first part of next week back in our own digs again,” he said. “It’s finally done, I think.”

The court building at 425 Idaho St. was vacated the second week of December because of water infiltration and a resulting mold infestation.

An aluminum cap on the roof was missing, allowing water to run down the wall separating the building’s two suites, he said.

“It probably blew off in a storm, would be my guess,” Lechner said.

The court, which serves Farrell, Hermitage, West Middlesex, Wheatland and Shenango Township, has operated from the Farrell City Building since Dec. 9.

The cleanup, remediation and construction work took longer than anyone anticipated, he said. Drywall was removed, block walls were cleaned and sealed, carpeting was ripped out, ducts were sanitized and new walls and flooring were installed, Lechner said.

“We stripped out everything,” he said. “We went above and beyond just to eliminate the possibility of a recurrence in case we missed anything.”

The work was done primarily by county workers, although specialists were brought for tasks such as testing air quality, sealing walls and installing floors, he said.

“We have to make a workplace safe – that means environmentally safe as well as every other way,” he said. “We’re doing everything possible to achieve that.”

Lechner said he did not know what the work cost.

Ronald E. Antos is the elected judge of the court, and the office is staffed by five employees.

The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts is responsible for the computer system, while Time Warner Cable provides the office Internet access.

The county bought the building in 2001 and had to deal with a mold infestation problem shortly after court workers moved in.

In 2007, court personnel were moved to the city building due to mold, and the county replaced the court’s roof and carpeting, sanitized the building and performed other work.

Lechner said that if the problem returns, the building likely would be abandoned.

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