When an air conditioner failed last week, Mayor Donna Medlin and Bloomfield Police Chief Tim Zych assumed they would call in a repairman and go about business as usual. That's not how it worked out in the end.
The repairman, upon removing the unit, discovered heavy concentrations of mold.
Upon discovering the mold, Zych contacted Medlin and members of the city council to inform them of the issue.
A special meeting of the Bloomfield Board of Aldermen was called for Sunday afternoon.
"Rather than take a chance (of someone becoming ill) while we were trying to decide we to do, we decided that the best course of action was to move them into City Hall effective immediately," Medlin said.
Construction was underway on Monday afternoon to prepare the building for the added department.
The police department will now be located in what was the city collector's office at City Hall. Additional doors are being installed to better secure the department from the rest of the building.
"I believe this is a great move, but it's important that the police department have everything they need," Medlin said, noting that the department needs two offices to continue functioning as they do at the current facility.
Police Chief Zych will be given Medlin's office as part of the move.
"He needs an office," Medlin said. "I can be mobile pretty easy and we have room when I need a place to work."
Medlin said the main concern for the department, the board and herself is to ensure the health of their employees and the patrons who visit the office.
Zych said that while he wishes the move could have been under better circumstances, he's also very pleased to be moving into a smaller facility.
"We spend an enormous amount of our budget just to heat and cool that building," he said, adding that the monthly cost is between $600 and $1,000. "The building isn't very energy efficient."
Despite being pleased about the move, Zych acknowledged that certain aspects of how they function will have to change.
There were concerns about adequate privacy for interviewing victims, but the additional door to seal the PD off from other parts of the city office should be adequate, Medlin said.
Zych said that since the mold was discovered, Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner has been "very gracious." He said Hefner offered to help in any way possible, including use of their interview space when it is not in use.
"The mayor and board really pulled together on this and worked quickly to get things done," Zych said. "I'm extremely grateful. They acted immediately with safety as their main concern."
Mayor Medlin said the move isn't necessarily temporary, noting that they will most likely use the Seneca St. facility for storage of records and other items.
To some extent it is already used for that purpose.
It has also been used for city court for quite some time.
Effective immediately, city court will be held in the City Hall basement in the Board of Aldermen chambers.
As of now, there is no plan to perform testing to determine the type of mold that is growing within the duct work in the basement. Instead of spending the money for testing, the mayor said they decided to simply err on the side of caution.
Medlin said she was very grateful for how well the board and various departments effected have pulled together during the ordeal.
"I really think it's going to be a blessing in disguise for both the police department and the taxpayers," she said, noting that it should save the police department a considerable amount of money in the coming year.
In 2012, Stoddard County had to spend approximately $300,000 for the removal of mold from the Justice Center when they discovered similar HVAC problems.
Medlin said the City of Bloomfield couldn't afford to undertake the same type of operation to keep doors open.
"We're just grateful we had this as an option," she said.