JONESVILLE — The Jonesville Public Library reopened a portion of its facility Tuesday, but some areas in the building remain closed to the public following leaks in the roof from the heavy rain and wind the area sustained in early October. Library officials and supporters approached the town council Monday in hopes of seeing repairs and treatment of the building occur sooner than later.
The town owns the building the library is housed in at 150 E. Main St., and its insurance covers the building, while the Northwest Regional Library owns the contents and has insurance to cover those, Town Manager Scott Buffkin explained Monday.
“During the recent storms, the roof at the Jonesville Public Library leaked causing damage to some areas of the building as well as to the books and shelving,” said Buffkin. “For the next several days following the storms, library staff identified areas of the building that have suffered water damage. Library staff also reported a noticeable difference in the air quality in the building as well as some apparent shifts in the floor and supports.”
After getting report of the issues, the town staff employed David Henderson of DAVHENCO Inc. to test the air quality and determine the extent of the problem and how to best resolve it. “Mr. Henderson has determined that the air quality in the building is not conducive to continuous human occupancy,” said Buffkin.
At that point, the library system management chose to temporarily close the library to staff and the public last Wednesday.
The main room of the library reopened Tuesday morning, with other outer-lying areas like the children’s room, resource room and restrooms remaining sealed off and closed until work can be done to repair the damage and clean the books and shelves.
Buffkin said it will cost $4,980 to replace the lower portion of the roof where the majority of the leaks occurred. But pricing on mold remediation and other repairs are still to be determined.
Until the town’s and library’s insurance adjusters report back on what they will cover and how much they will cover, the council chose to hold off on taking any measures to repair anything. A special meeting will be called as soon as that information is obtained, according to Mayor Gene Pardue.
Henderson reported his findings to the town council members Monday, explaining that the town’s insurance will not cover mold treatment, but it does cover water damage and his determination is that the building has Category 3 water damage, which is from a wind-driven force rain into the building. “They consider Category 3 water damage grossly unsanitary,” he said.
He said based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports, on Oct. 3, the area had 1.19 inches of rain, with heavy rain, light rain and fog and sustained 24 mph winds with gusts up to 32 mph.
To treat the books and shelves, Henderson said he could set up a clean room where he will be able to blow off the books, make sure there is no growth on them and the library staff can then determine if they are salvageable.
Also, due to the age of the building, which was estimated to be built around the same time as the next door former town hall in the early to mid-1950s, Henderson said, federal law requires them to assume their is asbestos, which means they’ll have to test for asbestos. Asbestos presence could increase the cost of any work that is done.
“We want to stay open for the community. We were concerned because even the staff had acute symptoms,” Branch Librarian Barbara Gilpin told the council.
Joan Sheriff, area director for the library system, said the staff could go ahead and get started cleaning books and shelves. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done.”
Council Member Wayne Moore said he didn’t want to see a lot of money spent on the building, considering its age and condition, and suggested looking at other options in town. He suggested a building across the street from the existing location, and another suggestion was the former town hall building which has been leased to the Jonesville Historical Society for its heritage center, which is still in the early stages of development.
“We want to move forward, but we can’t until we get the numbers back. I want to see it go forward,” said Council Member Andy Green.
“Our No. 1 goal is to get it remedied,” said Gilpin. “We had to cancel some programs and things the community need. The community is behind this.”
Another library advocate noted that for many low income families, the library provides some of the only entertainment in Jonesville for internet access and games. It also provides a place for job searches and resume assistance.
Heather Macy with Tri-C Ministry said her staff refers at least 10 clients a week to the library for job searches. She also said her own family is a heavy user of the library for books, games, and videos.
“I’m asking my town council to stand behind us,” said library volunteer Cody Amburn. “Regardless of how much it costs, don’t let us close.
“Our kids need this library, the town needs this library, I need this library,” he said.
Pardue told those in attendance that as soon as the town had more information from the adjusters the council would come back together.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.