Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 6, 2004

Inspection before school finds mold in Winsted’s portable site

By Lynda Jensen

Air quality checks made by MoldPros discovered a problem with the portable units for Winsted Elementary the week before school started.

“We are rejecting the (Winsted portable) building,” said Supt. George Ladd, who noted that water intrusion took place while the units sat over the summer.

The dog “Radar” was brought in from MoldPros of Waverly for the inspection procedure, upon Ladd’s insistence. Radar is one of two certified dogs in the state who can detect mold.

“Waverly passed with flying colors,” Ladd noted of the inspections there.

In fact, Waverly teachers have been raving about the extra room and comfort that the portable classrooms are providing there – complete with air conditioning and TV equipment in each room.

The mold in Winsted is not the district’s liability, since it is leasing the portables, Ladd noted. The lease is for a three year period.

“It’s Satellite’s problem,” he said, referring to Satellite Building Solutions Group of Minneapolis, which is the providers of the buildings.

Students will be displaced for the first quarter as a result, until Nov. 4, Ladd said.

In the meantime, fourth and fifth graders will use two rooms available at the Adult Training and Habilitation Center in Winsted. Music and the computer lab will be moved to the school gym.

There will be no district funds spent on the problem, other than the inconvenience of shifting students around for the first quarter while the contractor fixes the issue, Ladd said.

The Winsted units have been sitting since July wrapped in plastic, he noted. Water seeped into the carpet and other areas, which caused problems.

It was the responsiblity of Satellite to ensure the units were properly sealed and kept, Ladd noted.

The Winsted mold discovery does not seem to dampen excitement by Waverly teachers over the portable arrangement, since the structure was plugged in seamlessly into the existing building – in fact, it appears to be a true wing of the building, complete with brick facade, commented Elementary Principal Becky Gerdes.

The district wants Satellite to remove the existing portable units and to bring in new facilities. “We don’t know if this will happen,” he said.

Nevertheless, the distict must wait until something that passes inspection is made available, whatever the solution is.

The portable wing is supposed to house six classrooms meant for music, special education/Title 1, one section each of fourth and fifth grade, a computer lab and a science room.


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