Mr. Chappell, tear down that building! Or not
Sunday, March 09, 2014 12:19 AM
Some of you are old enough to remember that huge scare. Businesses in particular were scrambling to inoculate their computers and servers against a cataclysmic event: the year 2000. Computers supposedly were going to seize up as the world left the 1990s and entered the 2000s. Supposedly. Remember all those software businesses that suddenly popped up and made a killing with the software packages they offered to prevent digital destruction? They were like the elixir salesmen who came into the Wild West towns in their wagons, sold their magic potions and hit up the next town of suckers.
"And your point?" you are by now asking.
Well, some people claim the uproar about asbestos is much the same. They see it as a whole lot of angst about little or nothing. Now I'm not one who necessarily subscribes to that notion, seeing as the Big C seems to take out everyone in my family. On both sides. But you don't have to look far or long to recognize that a whole lot of lawyers have made a killing over asbestos. An equally whole lot of businesses have also made a killing over asbestos removal.
THAT SAID, I'M NOT ABOUT to suggest Greenwood County not address the asbestos situation discovered in the county courthouse, but I will suggest we might find a number of trial attorneys who practice inside that building suddenly advertising their services in the event someone has an asbestos claim to file.
Wisely, and no doubt in an effort to avoid potential lawsuits, county officials have acknowledged the presence of the asbestos and, in their infinite wisdom, have set about a plan to remove said asbestos.
With a smooth voice only a skilled part-time county attorney can deliver, Stephen "Everyone Remain Calm" Baggett Jr., assured the public all is well.
"It is not hazardous now and we don't believe it has ever been hazardous before," he said. "But it could become hazardous if it is disturbed."
Admittedly, I'm thinking the county could save thousands of dollars by not removing the asbestos and simply doing like they do at national parks. Hang a sign that reads "Don't Disturb the Asbestos." But the word is now out that some asbestos does indeed reside within the confines of our grand county courthouse building and it must be dealt with properly.
THE GOOD NEWS, OF COURSE, is Toby Chappell has the $500,000 needed for asbestos removal. It's tucked away in his auto allowance. No, wait. It's in the fund balance. That's good, because it means the county can still pay off its bond debt and have millions left over for another capital project down the road.
Well, that got me to thinking some more, which is obviously dangerous. Instead of tearing out a few ceiling tiles and whatever else in that building is covered in asbestos, why not take this to reassess the situation with regard to the dam money. That's "dam money," with no "n" on the end of "dam."
Instead of paying off the debt, shift the courthouse, clerk of court's office, treasurer's office, tax office and the like into temporary spots, tear down the courthouse and build something a little more attractive. That building looks like a cross between the old Civil War warship The Monitor Ironclad and a prison. And what is with the area outside the front entrance? Did county employees need that large a patio? Was it at one time a smoker's porch? Or did someone have the foresight to suggest irate taxpayers might need lots of room to stage protests?
YEAH, MAYBE THAT'S NOT such a great idea. Perhaps it really does make sense to spend a few thousand to rid the building of any asbestos, take care of the fuse plug at Buzzard Roost Dam and pay off that debt.
Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-2522; email email@example.com ,or follow him on Twitter at IJEDITOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.