Manteo Police: There’s a fungus among us

Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 10, 2015

Manteo, NC - The eight-officer Manteo police force is preparing to evacuate headquarters after a chronically leaking roof has sparked a spread of mold in the building.

The police department is on the second floor of Town Hall, where years of leaks and patches have dampened attics and drywall. Recently, officers started noticing mold on the walls, around vents, and in the lights.

"We're taking it very seriously, but we caught a little break on the severity of it," town manager Kermit Skinner Jr. told NewsChannel 3. Environmental experts determined it was garden-variety mold, not the toxic kind. Still, the fungus can make people ill, so it has to go. In the meantime, the officers have to go.

Skinner said he's been scouting Manteo office space suitable as a temporary headquarters.

"We've had some significant communications hurdles to cross," he said. "They need their own fiber optic network so they can have direct contact with criminal records."

They also need an armory and a secure evidence locker. Plus, Skinner said, the department is working with county prosecutors to make sure moving the evidence doesn't cause chain-of-custody concerns in court.

Once a new roof is on, the damage fixed and the mold removed, the police department can return. That could take months. And today, Skinner said a surprise could delay that even longer. The roof everyone thought was slate turns out to be asbestos shingles. He's awaiting test results that will show whether regular contractors can remove the roof, or if asbestos specialists are needed.

Skinner said a study of Manteo government buildings shows the police department could use a building of its own. It's something the commissioners will talk about in the next few months. As to when the police officers can return to their headquarters, no one yet knows when that will be.