Mold in Abernethy Courthouse Forces Staff to Vacate

ABERDEEN, Miss. (WCBI) – On the outside it may look like business as usual at the Abernethy Federal Courthouse in Aberdeen, but looks can be deceiving.

While on the outside, the building seems to be well-kept, the inside contains a mold problem, one that’s been going on for more than 25 years, and the efforts to move back in have been an uphill battle.

“As long ago as 25 years, Judge Glen Davidson wrote a letter to the GSA, General Services Administration, to put them on notice that there was evidence of mold in the courthouse,” said North Mississippi District Chief Judge, Sharion Aycock.

In those 25 years, the GSA wasn’t doing much about the mold.

“It was never adequately addressed, just a band-aid affect from time to time to try to keep us in the facility, but it only became worse,” said Aycock.

As Aycock, making a case for the Abernethy building wasn’t easy.

“For Aberdeen, Mississippi to get the attention of central office in D.C., it was not a small task,” said Aycock with a chuckle.

But after getting help from the Administrative Office of the Courts, the building was studied for mold, and the GSA was pushed to act.

“The building has been deemed uninhabitable,” said Aycock.

We weren’t able to go inside of the 2nd and 3rd floors where the courtrooms are, but Aycock gives us a pretty good idea about what we’re dealing with.

“…causing several people to become ill because of the mold,” she said.

One of the main problems is the HVAC system hasn’t been updated since the courthouse was built.

“Unfortunately, all of the ductwork and the infrastructure, including the HVAC unit itself, is original installation in 1972, so it’s kind of no wonder that it is causing problems,” said the judge.

But work still continues.

Currently, court is held at the Bankruptcy Court in Aberdeen.

Aycock says there’s a perception the court is separate from the community, but these recent efforts to keep the court alive shows that they’re together.

“All these entities have stepped up and said ‘We want to keep this courthouse in Monroe County. We will do what’s necessary to help.’ It’s just been a really good joint effort,” said Aycock.

The Abernethy staff are set to move into the Gilmore Conference Center in Amory in June and plan to be there until renovations are complete.

Right now, the GSA has set funding aside for a new HVAC system, but more tests are being done to determine other causes of mold and if more funding needs to be made for renovation.

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