Thursday, October 5, 2017

Insurance Commissioner shuts down Eudora Welty library

Insurance Commissioner Mike  Chaney announced that he is shutting down the Eudora Welty library due to fire code violations today at 5:00.  The sprinkler system does not work and other problems exist.  The new roof has a major problem with leaks.  The leaks have caused a mold problem to develop.  Commissioner Chaney stated in a letter sent to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba:

The State Fire Marshal's Office conducted an inspection of the Eudora Welty Library on October 4, 2017. This inspection was conducted pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 45-11-101(b) which requires the State Fire Marshal to perform inspections of buildings utilized for public assembly when an inspection is believed to be in the interest of public safety. In the course of said inspection, numerous Mississippi Fire Prevention Code violations and hazardous life safety conditions were found. The official State Fire Marshal inspection report is attached to this letter and provides additional  details on said violations and  conditions.

Commissioner said the sprinkler system was not working and the phone line to the fire department had been cut.  He said Director Patty Furr has "worked tirelessly" to fix the problems.  The inspection was prompted by complaints and  media coverage.  The faulty roof has also caused many problems for the library.

Commissioner Chaney was visibly angry when he discussed the roof (5:10). He said "They put a new roof in this building after the hailstorm of 2014 (actually 2013) and its got bubbles in it, you've got leaks all over the roof, it looks like a big swimming pool every time it rains, it comes right down into the library. You tell me who inspected that roof after it was put in. I don't have the authority to do that but somebody does and they ought to be held accountable for what they did." He also said "fixing the sprinkler system isn't going to get it back open."  He later said "I regret that I gotta do it but it's gotta be done."  He said the roof cost $700,00 to repair and that "two or three roofs could have been replaced for the cost of the library's roof replacement. The city of Jackson owns the building.

Director Furr said that the company that "fixed" the roof was BBMK of Boca Raton, Fl. She also said the project manager lived in Jackson.  She also said that the project manager did not go up to the roof to inspect it.  She said the elevator was not safe and would cost over $10,000 to repair.  She said she notified the city of the elevator problem last year. 

She called it a "sad day when the library was closed."  The administrative headquarters moved out of the building to a site on Lakeland Drive.  Five employees are sick due to mold (6:30).  She said the water pouring through the roof was ruining the building and causing mold.  She said when the library had no fire alarm, emergency lighting, and no security system when she began her employment in 2013.   The sewer pumps in the basement work sporadically and raw sewage floats in the basement at times.  She said she had fixed most of the fire code violations. 

Director Furr was adamant in stating that the Hinds County Library System should have a main library in downtown Jackson.  She said "We would love to stay downtown." 

Commissioner Chaney said the building should be condemned.  He said(13:11) "When you have a building that has the bricks coming off..... You've got bricks that have cracks and once you've got mortar integrity that disappears from the bricks, there is not much that you can do  except to rebuild the building or tear it down.  The Commissioner said he developed a headache and congested sinuses after spending only thirty minutes upstairs on the second floor today. He said there were "public officials that refused to do their job."  Director Furr said the water coming down the walls had caused the mortar to disintegrate.  "Alot of the bricks are no longer attached to the wall" she said. 

The Hinds County Emergency Operations Center will continue to operate in the basement for at least several days.  The building is closed only to the public. 

Mayor Lumumba issued this statement:

 “We were informed that the Eudora Welty Library will be closing at 5 p.m. today due to numerous Mississippi Fire Prevention Code violations and hazardous life safety conditions. These violations and conditions were discovered during an inspection by the State Fire Marshal’s Office on October 4, 2017, and was conducted as a requirement to inspect buildings that are utilized by the public. It is my understanding that the library will remain closed to the public until these violations and conditions are corrected. We do understand that this closing may cause inconvenience among our citizens, but it was done in the best interest and for the safety of both employees and patrons. My office will continue to engage with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, as well as the regional library commission for updates until this matter is resolved.”

Kingfish note:The report and accompanying letter are posted below.

P. 1 Commissioner's letter to Mayor Lumumba
P. 3  Fire Marshal's letter to Mayor Lumumba
P.4 Report
P. 14 Pictures begin.

Sent from my BlackBerry Priv


Louis LeFleur said...

What a pity on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

Can we get the State to takeover Jackson for gross negligence and rank incompetence?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there some guarantee on the new roof?
Or was that another of those good buddie contracts?

Anonymous said...

If lack of money is the issue then facilities need to be consolidated and closed. If it’s incompetence then people should be fired.

Anonymous said...

The problems @ Welty are only a microcosm of Jackson's overall in-progress total collapse.

But don't worry our neophyte Mayor can get his mug on TV and spout some more feel-good about how he is going to fix it all.

Free the Taxpayers
Free the Taxpayers
Free the Taxpayers from this clown operation of a municipality.

Anonymous said...

Mind you, this is the second public library to be closed. The Charles Tisdale branch on East Northside Drive was closed some months ago due to mold caused by a leaky roof The city's incompetence is just disgraceful.

Kingfish said...

WHat the heck did the Mayor have to do with this? I've criticized him on quite a few things but what does this have to do with him? He has been in office for around 90 days. This thing has been falling apart for years.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget, isn't Hinds/Jackson EOC in the basement of this building?

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong. Several years ago, there was a leak in the esteemed Eudora Welty library which was insured. I think it was in Harvey Johnson's time in office, but I am not sure. This sweetheart deal apparently had everyone thinking that "guess this", people were under the impression as was I an insurance professional at the time that "books" were covered. That's when the public found out books weren't covered. I guess the misguided assumptions were because of the exorbitant commissions charged. Apparently, they put a bandage on the problem because it has reoccured. As with virtually all city of Jackson deals, where is REAL oversight.

Anonymous said...

The roof on Thalia Mara hall is probably one of the most expensive ever replaced. I never understood why the contractors kept collecting money from the City. Some times the lowest bid is not the best bid. The City should go after the bonds furnished by the contractor and it surely was guaranteed for more than 12 months.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the building was given to Jackson years ago. It had problems then. So don't try to blame
all problems on Harvey or afterwards.

Anonymous said...

The building was originally a Sears department store. Maybe Chuck Way could use the opportunity to "upgrade" to a better former Sears department store out at Metrocenter. Problem solved.

PittPanther said...

"Public officials who refused to do their jobs." I hope he named names.

Anonymous said...

I had just started as a reporter at one of the tv stations back in the 80’s and one of my first story assignments was covering the dedication of the Welty Library. Met and interviewed Ms Welty, who was a lovely person. This is a sad story.

Anonymous said...

Former Jacksonian here. I just have to ask why anyone would still live there. What are you waiting for? It will never improve. . . it is just totally ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

With little money for structural repairs or new buildings, the future of both the Welty and the Tisdale branches hang in the balance.

The system likely needs hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, to restore Welty, a former Sears department store.

Leaks following the installation of a new roof there caused black mold to spread throughout the two-story building’s meeting rooms and administrative offices. Some employees, including Furr, are suffering respiratory problems as a result.

One of the library’s two emergency stairwells has also been shut off to visitors because of the leaks, while bricks on Welty’s exterior are beginning to pull away due to the excessive moisture.

Ironically, problems at the flagship location got worse after the city spent $700,000 to replace the library’s roof. BBMK, of Boca Raton, was hired to do the work, prior to Furr joining the system. City inspectors signed off on the project without Furr’s input.

“(The contractors) were supposed to add a metal cover over the parapet stones to stop water from coming in between the walls but it wasn’t done,” she said. “We had more buckets when it was first done (than before the roof was replaced).”

Furr said it would take at least $75,000, to cap the parapet stones.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know the soul of a city look at the public schools, the library system, and how it nurtures and mentors the young people who live within its borders. How do you think Jackson would rate?

Anonymous said...

So Sears built a substandard building 70 years ago and it has no air circulation. And an old roof. And that is Jackson’s fault.

Anonymous said...

Why was that roof replaced by a company headquartered out of Boca Raton, FL? Why was the library admin not screaming about this since. When & how are previous administrations held accountable, and at what point is someone going to blow the whistle on the shenanigans of Jackson?!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Hinds Library Director Patricia Furr stands her ground.

Patricia Furr, Executive Director of the Hinds County Library System, fired back at critics yesterday in a presentation to the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

Anonymous said...

Yep, remember the Sears there well, always was impressed with the Marble-like stairs that led to the Bargain Basement... When the Great Allen C. Thompson was Mayor ! After shopping, a trip to Livingston Lake would be in order !

Anonymous said...

"So Sears built a substandard building 70 years ago and it has no air circulation. And an old roof. And that is Jackson’s fault."
October 5, 2017 at 8:24 PM

No. Sears built a FINE building. But the City sent in jacklegs ( to do work which required competent and honest contractors. Not even fine buildings can last, without periodic maintenance, performed correctly. And adaptations/renovations have to be done by people who know what they're doing, and who are willing to do things reasonably right.

Anonymous said...

No way Patty Furr is to blame. But that won't stop the finger pointing.

Anonymous said...

Jackson will soon have the priviledge of running a zoo and a library system with no help whatsoever from people that are experienced running such things. So many people want to help Jackson and make it work, so many politicians would rather play the blame game and keep getting re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Um, the bottom floor is a cave with no circulation built in an era when no AV was foretold. So no, it was not such a fine building by today’s standards.

Anonymous said...

So let's see the contract for the roof repairs.

Also any mention in the supervisors minutes of this project.

Anonymous said...

"Um, the bottom floor is a cave with no circulation built in an era when no AV was foretold. So no, it was not such a fine building by today’s standards."

October 5, 2017 at 9:32 PM

I seriously doubt that Sears would have had been able to use the lower floor as a "Bargain Basement" without "circulation". Back then, and I do realize that this is a foreign concept to you, there were actual building codes, and actual, competent individuals, who inspected for adherence to codes. In the unlikely event that Sears would have attempted to use a large unventilated area as retail space, it is a certainty that the city (which at the time was NOT run by idiots) would have forbidden such a thing.

Actually, the building is "around EIGHTY years old" (according to sources I've just found). That would have been around 1937. I can assure you that air conditioning for stores ('AC') was a 'thing', by 1937. I'm assuming that 'Air Conditioning' is what you meant with the acronym, 'AV'. Or did you mean 'Artificial Vagina'? That seemed the closest fit, when I looked-up 'AV' on the acronym-finder sites.

"In the 1930s, air conditioning spread to department stores, rail cars, and offices...." ( If you read the article, please note that theatres were starting to be air conditioned by the late 1920s. So, AC (or 'AV') had most definitely been "foretold", by 1937. Here in the Deep South, it had likely been INSTALLED, in Sears' spectacular Art Moderne flagship store for Mississippi.

But let's pretend that the basement was not originally equipped with air conditioning. You DO realize, don't you that the ELECTRIC FAN had been invented, decades previous to air conditioning. People had already, well before 1937, figured-out, that you could fit an electric fan into a vent shaft, or a vent duct, and SUCK or BLOW air into or out of a space.

It is inconceivable, that Sears would not have made such provisions for "circulation", or that the COMPETENT persons running Jackson at the time, would have allowed such a space to be constructed without at least rudimentary "circulation". Sears would NOT have had to have been forced to do so, though, because even if the basement was originally to be empty, rising damp would have caused damage to the merchandise on the floor above. At a bare minimum, there would have been an exhaust fan.

I know one family of Jackson wholesale merchants, whose warehouse extended SEVERAL FLOORS BELOW ground level. This subterranean warehouse was constructed roughly contemporary with the Sears building. There were vent ducts. There were fans. There were sump pumps. The merchandise stayed dry-as-a-bone. There was plenty of "circulation". People could do things like that, in Jackson, back then, because intelligent, COMPETENT people lived there, at the time.

You know, there are basements and sub-basements beneath all the old 'Skyscrapers' Downtown. Plenty of people knew how to manage the simple technologies required to ventilate such spaces ("circulation", ya know...). Sears was only a couple of blocks away. It would have had such ventilation, too. If there, today, really is no "circulation", it's because some fool has, in recent decades, removed it/covered it up.

As for retrofitting, you do realize that vent ducts can be fitted AFTER construction, DON'T YOU? Dehumidifiers and air conditioners can be added, at any time. A blowtorch can go through steel. There are saws and drills which can cut through concrete. There is no shortage of people who can do such work. They just don't seem to have been employed by THE PITIFUL CITY OF JACKSON, in recent decades.

Anonymous said...

The Northside Sun has also covered this story very well. They recently reported that the roof leaks at the new Willie Morris library in northeast Jackson. I say fix that one first and save it. It would be the cheapest to repair.

Anonymous said...

Don't spend anymore of the taxpayers money on this issue. Libraries are not needed within the JPS system. That point has been confirmed in the reports of the failing status of the district. We are in the digital age and behemoths like these are no longer needed.

Anonymous said...

The insurance commissioner needs to go after whom ever won bid and the contract to replace the roofs on the library buildings and the building inspector is/was at the time.

Anonymous said...

Somebody on this board is obsessed with defending Sears. The range of expertise on this board is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, 4:44. What are office buildings now but expensive file cabinets? All of the Welty Library contents could fit on a laptop with plenty of storage space left over.

Anonymous said...

Architectural Information (for the former Sears Department Store)
Inventory: 049-JAC-0582
Historic Name: (former) Sears Department Store
Common Name: Eudora Welty Library
Address: 300 State Street, North
City: Jackson County: Hinds
Construction Date: 1946
Style(s): Art Moderne, International

Louis LeFleur said...

As previously stated, what a pity on so many levels. Wasn't it just announced in the last several days that several branch libraries would be going to shorter hours due to budget cuts caused by cuts to the MS Library Commission? If the JHLS budget in such dire straits, where in the world will they get the money to fix this, much less the old Northside Library that's been closed for how long now due to mold?

I worked part-time/student at the old Northside Library in the early 70's when it actually had a higher circulation volume than the (then) main library across the street from Welty. My, my, how things have changed. Then again, what hasn't in the last nearly 50 years.

Anonymous said...

Any state or county re-roofing project should be accompanied by a manufacturer's warranty. To receive the warranty the workmanship would have to be up to the manufacturer's standard, which would be verified through an inspection. Strange that a $700,000 project wouldn't be scrutinized a little more.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain how the system works? The letter was to the the Jackson Mayor, but the libraries are run by the Hinds County Library System and the Director presented to supervisors in the previous video. Does the city own the building and the county run it? Who paid for the roof repairs? This is outrageous, but I"m not sure who to blame or ask to fix this!

Anonymous said...

It's not the responsibility nor the authority of the State Insurance Commissioner to 'go after' whoever repaired the roof.

But, to see the tree in the forest, go no further than these words in the report:

1. The city of Jackson owns the building.

2. Director Furr said that the company that "fixed" the roof was BBMK of Boca Raton, Fl. She also said the project manager lived in Jackson.

Once again we see the infamous words 'Project Manager' pop up in relation to shoddy (shitty) work done, approved by or paid for by Jackson. We don't even need to speculate as to the race of the owners of BBMK or the race of the project manager or the association of those two and whoever the mayor was at the time.

Wow said...

So sad. When I visit other capitals around the country, the capital district's library is usually something amazing to marvel at.

To me, in those places, the design and beauty and strength of those libary buildings communicate something so much deeper--they communicate that state's and that government's commitment to education and knowledge for all.

Perhaps one day we can be that way as well.

We will have to think creatively. Maybe get the 5th year architecture students downtown to give free-labor and as part of a project design a downtown Mississippi Library by Mississippians for Mississippians?

Maybe get one of the construction technology programs at one of our major universities (or have them all participate) to donate the labor for the actual construction of the library? Maybe by providing them some type of tax incentive or grant from the state?

Just brainstorming here.

Anonymous said...

There is not any need for a library in Jackson. Open the doors and let the homeless move in. After all, that was most of the visitors before it was closed.
With JPS doing such a bang up job there aren't that many people in Jackson that can read.
They are quite a few homeless people.
Instead of spending more money on buildings that Jackson has no use for why not take the money supposedly used to keep them in shape and put it in a big barrel where the city administration can drop by and grab a fistful of cash when they need it. There would be less paperwork to falsify. They art going to get the money anyway.

Kingfish said...

Perhaps you are the one who needs to spend time in a library. One of the more ignorant comments made on this website. Ms. Furr had straightened out a lot of things since she took over.

Anonymous said...

8:52 Tisdale was not closed due to leaky roof, Tisdale was closed due to having a basement which floods due to it being built with a basement while being lower than everything around it.

Anonymous said...

The library commission (the director and board) are responsible for day to day operations of the libraries. Not the city or the county. The library operations are funded by a library millage assessed to all county residents.

The only thing the city and county are responsible for is providing a facility. Inside Jackson, the city provides buildings. Outside Jackson, the county provides buildings. Except Clinton, they built their own and kudos to them for doing so

Louis LeFleur said...

11:17, over the 2-3 years I worked there off and on part-time as a student in the early 1970's, the basement never flooded. I know they've added on and modified the building since then. Wonder if those additions/modifications are the problem?

Anonymous said...

"8:52 Tisdale was not closed due to leaky roof, Tisdale was closed due to having a basement which floods due to it being built with a basement while being lower than everything around it.

October 6, 2017 at 11:17 AM"

By definition a basement is lower than everything around it.

the floor of a building partly or entirely below ground level.

Anonymous said...

4:26; I too wondered about that remark. Aren't all basements, by definition and design, lower than ground level? Otherwise, would the basement not be the first floor? This blog attracts some odd people.

Anonymous said...

You're right, 4:26 and 7:10. Someone is trying to deflect blame onto those who built the buildings, and away from those who have modified/maintained/retrofitted them BADLY.

That someone, however, is not bright enough to realize that persons of NORMAL intelligence can see right through his little ploys.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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