ARCANUM — The Arcanum Village Council heard a spooky story during its meeting Halloween night. Unfortunately, there were no treats.
Village Administrator Bill Kessler informed council that an air sample study conducted at the building by a contractor had led indirectly to the discovery of bat droppings in the upper floors of building, a situation which will require the evacuation of all village staff from the premises, including the Arcanum Police Department.
Kessler said the air study had discovered mold spores in various parts of the building. However, it was the abatement company DryMaxx, on hand to inspect the building, which uncovered the presence of live bats, dead bats, and bat guano.
“The mood changed very quickly once they went upstairs,” he said. “They shifted from ‘We really don’t have a mold problem’ to ‘a severe bat problem.’”
DryMaxx has given the village an estimate of $247,000 to clean up the damage. Council has not determined as yet what final course of action it will take on the matter.
For now, the short-term plan is for the village to relocate its operations to a safer environment. Kessler told council the building will be closed November 6 and 7 and government operations will be reopened at the All American Clothing Company at 1 Pop Rite Drive in Arcanum beginning November 8. The owner of All American has offered use of its space in the building for $800 per month plus a share of utilities cost. Council voted 5-0 to approve signing a lease agreement with All American which is expected to be written up by the end of the week.
When asked if All American is ADA compliant, Kessler said depending on how long the town’s operations remain there, the village may have to install an ADA-compliant ramp for wheelchair access.
Kessler also said they plan to install a new drop box at All American, but will continue to check the drop box at the current village building.
The village’s insurance company was contacted, and though told there is no coverage for damage from rodent droppings, Kessler said Arcanum may still submit a claim.
Unfortunately for the village, even if funds are spent to clean the building, it will not fix the situation permanently.
“The $247,000 will clean up what’s here. It won’t get rid of the bats, and it won’t solve the bat problem,” he said.
Further complicating matters is the continued existence of “elevated” levels of mold spores within some parts of the building.
“The old paper records are food for mold,” Kessler said. “We don’t want to move them to a facility and contaminate it.”
“We are not going to move them to another location until they’ve been sanitized,” added Mayor Judy Foureman.
Kessler added the move will not disrupt Arcanum’s police services.
“What they’re going to do is they will continue to use what they have to maintain in this building. Most of what they need is in their cruisers anyway,” he said.
As for the ultimate disposition of the building, such as demolishing the current structure and building a new town hall, Mayor Foureman said “That is a decision council will have to make.”
Another complication facing council is potential medical claims which may be filed by employees who believe they have suffered ill effects from the building’s unsafe environment. Kessler stated one employee is already filing a claim.
Despite the disruption of relocation, Foureman wished to reassure Arcanum residents it will be business as usual and they will be able to contact employees using the same phone numbers and email addresses.
“We appreciate the public’s cooperation,” said Mayor Foureman. “We will do everything we can to continue providing services.”
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