McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

April 15, 2013

Pittsburg County Courthouse foundation is more than a century old

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — The three story Pittsburg County Courthouse rests on rusty pilings and the cracked wet foundation of the old Busby Hotel, built more than 100 years ago.

In the basement of courthouse the smell of mold permeates the air as water from underground seepage drips from a run-off pipe into an old paint bucket.

The paint bucket over-flows and the water forms largedark pools on the cracked cement floor.

The Moldy stagnant water collects and rests at the base of foundation pilings where rusty metal appears through cracks in the century old structures.

Maintenence Manager Carl Thomason said the basement has been in that condition for the 13 years that he’s been there.

 “The water comes from groundwater seepage, we can’t stop it,” Thomason said.

“These are the same pilings and the same foundation from the old Busby Hotel.”

District 2 Commission Kevin Smith said it’s been like that for as long as he has been in office and he said it’s the safest structure in town.

He said although the News Capital reported in 2007 there was black mold growing in the stagnating water, Smith said the black mold was removed during the courthouse renovations completed in 2010.

“The mold down there is not what they call ‘black mold,’” Smith said.

Smith also said the engineering firm Atlas General Contractors and in Bixby and Architects in Partnership in Norman contracted during the renovations said the foundation was sound.

And, because the basement is closed off for use by employees or the public, Smith said the stagnating water does not have to be cleaned up.

 Erin Hatfield of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality said there are no Oklahoma laws concerning mold and there is no regulation concerning mold growth in public buildings.

Meanwhile when asked about the rusty cracked pilings, Smith said he feels safe in the courthouse.

“I feel safer in the courthouse than any other structure in town,” Smith said.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.