Keeping their cool: Workers swelter; commissioners delay
County planning and zoning employees have taken to working in two storage rooms in the back of the Bowron Building at Main and 3rd Sts. since the air conditioning gave out this spring.
County commissioners have several times considered spending $7,000 to replace the air conditioner but have continually put off a decision.
It was 83 degrees at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the building’s front rooms, which have large south windows. The indoor temperature there was expected to rise to 86 or 87 degrees by late afternoon.
“We don’t have any air movement,” employee Sharon Omstead said. “The whole system has been shut off.”
The rooms that she and director Emma Tajchman work in were previously used for storage.
The temperature in Omstead’s temporary office remained a relatively comfortable 73 Tuesday morning.
However, she said, “It’s kind of cramped and gets muggy by afternoon when you get multiple people in a room.”
At Monday’s county commission meeting, county clerk Tina Spencer reminded commissioners of the need for air conditioning at the building.
Bids were solicited weeks ago but have not been acted upon.
Commissioners again discussed the matter briefly Monday and postponed action. They are trying to decide what to do with the building. The county health department moved out in 2015. The economic development office there has been empty since director Teresa Huffman’s retirement in early May.
The historic building, built right after and by the same crew as the Elgin Hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has been owned by the county for 24 years. A lease-purchase agreement was signed in 1993, and the deed to the building was filed in 2004.
The June meeting of the planning and zoning board was moved from the Bowron Building to the commission meeting room at the courthouse. The July meeting has been postponed.
“We don’t know what we are going to do about the August meeting,” Omstead said.
She did find a silver lining above the clouds.
“I’m thankful to be gainfully employed, and we’re not out in the sun, so we do have some blessings,” she said.