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Public Notices

April 21, 2014

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County Records Damaged After Sprinklers Burst At Warehouse

Originally published: 2014-01-15 10:59:46
Last modified: 2014-01-15 11:19:41

Maintenance Workers Still Assessing Damage To Records, Building And Equipment



Water leaks continue to plague Greene County governmental offices, causing damage to records, facilities and office equipment.

A sprinkler system burst at the county warehouse, which is located adjacent to the offices at the Courthouse Annex.

The burst sprinkler system damaged dozens of boxes of records, according to county officials.

Maintenance Director Russell Kinser said the system failure occurred around 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4.

A worker at the Opportunity House, located on the corner of Cutler and Irish streets, reported seeing water running out the side of the warehouse, Kinser said.

Maintenance Supervisor Melvin Seaton arrived at the warehouse to find what appeared to be a "waterfall," Budget Director Mary Shelton said.

By the time Kinser arrived, he said Seaton was soaking wet but had managed to stop the water.

"There was water dripping from everywhere," he said. "There was water running out of the side of the building."

Shelton said she had approximately 30 boxes of records damaged, of which approximately four could be discarded because of age.

The remaining documents, including accounts payable and payroll journals, may need to be freeze-dried in an effort to recover the documents, she said.

County Planner Amy Tweed also had approximately 40 boxes of documents damaged in the break, according to Purchasing Agent Diane Swatzell.

Those departments may not have been the only ones, either, according to Shelton.

"Just about anybody that had anything stored down there got something wet," she said.

Swatzell said that, in addition to the yet-unknown cost of freeze-drying the documents, she has so far received requests to replace two computers, 60 cases of fresh paper, a pair of work boots, an entry keypad, printer, mouse and air compressor.

These items alone total approximately $4,500 and may just be a beginning, Swatzell said.

The county will also need to pay an individual who had to move the county voting machines to a safe location, she added.

Shelton and Swatzell said they don't think the voting machines were damaged because of a tarp covering over them and because of their elevated storage location.

According to Kinser, the air compressor's failing, perhaps as a result of age, is what resulted in an alarm's not sounding.

Nonetheless, he estimated that the maintenance department responded and stopped the leak within about 20 minutes.

He said Tuesday that he is not yet certain of a total cost of damage, as maintenance workers are still assessing what of the approximately 2,400-square-foot warehouse can be saved, including assessing the walls and carpet.

He said he expects furniture items to need replacement, and much more.

"It's going to be a pretty good chunk," Kinser said of the cost.

However, he added that it should be less than the damage incurred in November 2012, when a leaking sink in the County Register of Deeds office over a holiday weekend flooded the County Annex and caused extensive damage to the lower level of the building.

That damage was estimated around $70,000.

Earlier in 2012, the county also faced water damage to a number of court records stored at the former Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services building on West Depot Street.

The estimated cost of freeze-drying those documents and repairing the building was about $50,000.

Kinser further reported that nine leaks occurred on Jan. 6 at the Greene County Animal Control building.

The heat pump failed to enter into emergency heat, resulting in the freezing of the pipes, he said.

Kinser added that the problem was less severe than it could have been because he had ordered the placement of additional heaters at the facility that night.

He estimated pipe repairs and replacements at several hundred dollars.

For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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