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Extension Center ‘may’ reopen

GATESVILLE – The Gates County Extension Center may reopen as early as next week.

However, Gates County Manager Toby Chappell was quick to zero in on the word, “may.”

“The situation we had at the building with the asbestos has been cleared-up, but there remains an issue with lead paint found in areas inside and outside the building,” Chappell said.

As he has all along since the building was closed Nov. 5 following an inspection by the NC Department of Labor, Chappell said he would err on the side of caution and keep the building closed until all the issues are resolved.

“We will not allow anyone inside the building until we feel 100 percent sure there are no health risks or potential health risks present,” he stressed.

As far as the lead paint issue was concerned, Chappell said one interior window was found to be above the acceptable limit.

“There were some other instances of lead paint, but all were intact, meaning they pose no health risks,” Chappell said.

He added that the front two columns on the building’s entryway, the faade under the front porch and one front window contained lead paint that was not intact and will be removed and repainted. The door casings will be encapsulated (covered with vinyl).

“We’ve have three quotes out for the cost of that work; one has been returned and we’re waiting on the other two,” Chappell said on Monday of this week. “Once the work begins, which I hope is as early as Wednesday, it will not take very long to complete. Then it’s a matter of getting our guys (county maintenance workers) in to handle the rest. If we encounter no snags, hopefully we can reopen the building by the middle of next week.”

The asbestos found during the Department of Labor inspection was on a water pipe located underneath the building.

“That was taken care of last week,” Chappell said. “There were a few more spots they found, all under the building, that were taken care as well.”

An air quality test conducted inside the building last month revealed no presence of asbestos.

The building houses the Extension Center staff and the Gates County Board of Elections. Additionally, a large meeting room inside the building is used occasionally by other county departments.