Problem highlights ongoing issues with building, say board members
The sign posted on the Pickens County DFCS office in Jasper on Monday morning.
The Pickens County DFCS office closed Monday morning, July 28, after black mold was found inside the Chambers Street building, according to DFCS Board members.
A sign taped on the door alerted clients that the facility was closed “for emergency repairs” and that the office would “reopen as soon as possible.”
Revae Graham, a spokesperson for DFCS, said Pickens DFCS employees will work at other locations until the mold problem is remediated.
As of press time Tuesday, the office was still closed.
Graham said clients can visit other offices in the region for in-person assistance with DFCS services.
Several board members said the Environmental Protection Agency is getting involved with the remediation process, but at this time it is not known how long cleaning and repairs will take.
Board member Michael White said the board alerted Pickens’ House Rep. Rick Jasperse, and “in one phone call to the state he had them down here making a few repairs.”
White said that’s when mold was found behind boards and sheetrock in the building, and that “there were some employees that got sick because of it. It’s not a good situation at all,” he said.
But Pickens DFCS Board members say the mold problem is the latest in a long line of issues with the building, which the state leases from a private individual. One DFCS Board member said they have made efforts to move to a different facility for several years, going as far as petitioning several of Pickens’ state representatives.
“The state has a list of DFCS buildings in need of improvement and at one point we were number two,” said board member Ann Parks who has served on the Pickens DFCS board for at least two decades. “Then for some reason we were pushed way down. Now I think we’re at about six.”
Parks said beyond mold, the building has had structural problems, electrical issues, leaks, plumbing problems and rodent infestations.
“And we’ve had a terrible time getting our landlord to respond,” Parks said. “She’s very difficult to get a hold of.”
Pickens County Commission Chair Rob Jones, formerly Pickens’ sole commissioner, said he was approached by DFCS three or four years ago about leasing a building from the county.
“At the time I didn’t have anything available,” Jones said, “but they complained of filing cabinets being on sagging floors and a commode sinking because of flooring, among other things.”
Jones said a couple of weeks ago a DFCS representative from the state came to look at a 4,200 square foot county building on East Church Street that became available after the Pickens County Sheriff relocated his Criminal Investigation Division to the county jail.
“We’d be glad to lease that to the state,” Jones said. “It’s ready if they’re willing.”
Signs on the Pickens DFCS windows direct clients who need services for specific cases related to food stamps, Medicaid, TANF or childcare to call 1-877-423-4746.
To report child abuse or neglect call 1-855-422-4453.
To apply for benefits or to report a change or complete a renewal for food stamp, Medicaid, TANF or childcare visit www.compass.ga.gov