By Josh Mitchell

Missourian Staff Writer

County buildings will be tested for air quality under a contract recently approved by the Franklin County Commission.

Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said the purpose of the testing is to make sure there are no issues with mold and old contaminants.

The testing especially applies to older buildings, he said, adding, “In the newer buildings it’s not so bad.”

The goal is to make sure people who visit and work in the buildings are breathing clean air, he said. The testing can help avoid respiratory problems by ensuring there is no dust, he added.

The county has not always done this testing, Griesheimer said, adding, “This is something new.”

Asked why the county has started the program, he said, “Just to make sure there are no issues. We just want to make sure there are no problems in all the buildings.”

Commissioner Terry Wilson said the testing will involve looking in the duct work.

Asbestos is not a problem in county buildings, and the testing is not required, Griesheimer said.

“We’re doing it voluntarily,” he said.

The county received proposals from two firms to do the testing, and Edge Testing Service of Glen Carbon, Ill., was chosen. It can test two buildings for $775, and that includes three samples on each building.

The building department recommended having two county buildings tested annually. Under the order approved by the County Commission, Facilities Director Joe Hurt can select the buildings to be tested.

According to the Building Department, the judicial building and county jail will be the first two buildings tested. After those are tested, other county buildings will be tested on a rotating schedule.

Resident Ron Keeven said he would have preferred if the county could have used a local firm to do the work instead of an Illinois company.

Keeven said it looks as if there are a few companies in Franklin County qualified to do that work.

He asked the commission if there is a good reason why the commissioners spend taxpayer money out of the county and state.

Commissioner Ann Schroeder said it can be hard to find firms qualified to do this work.

County Counselor Mark Vincent said it is not required to take bids for professional services, noting that this work will be done by engineers.

“This is the best one for the price,” Vincent said, adding that the other proposal came from a company out of St. Louis County.

Griesheimer noted that the county does have a 5 percent policy for local contractors. That policy basically states that if a local contractor’s bid is 5 percent higher than a non-local firm, then the local bid can still be awarded.

But Wilson said that policy does not apply when federal funds are involved. County funds are paying for this contract.

Under the contract, Edge Testing Service will provide two samples from inside each building and one on the outside of each structure. A lab report identifying mold spores and concentrations will be produced.