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Municipal building mold problematic for basement and PD

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  Mold in the Colfax Municipal Building basement is not a new problem.

But after the energy efficiency project to install heating and air conditioning — and after holes were drilled in the basement floor for beams to support the library floor — mold has become more of a problem, both downstairs and in the offices of the Colfax Police Department.

The Colfax Village Board’s public property committee toured the building July 1.

Before the new HVAC was installed, the Colfax Police Department was heated with baseboard electric heat and cooled by a window air conditioner.

Opening up holes in the floor for the heating and cooling vents allows mold spores from the basement to circulate in the police department offices, said Pete Gehring, Colfax police chief.

Cutting holes in the basement floor to install support beams for the library floor also allows more mold spores from underneath the building to circulate in the basement, which causes more mold to circulate upstairs in the police department, he said.

The mold spores are creating health problems for village employees, Police Chief Gehring said.

The basement of the municipal building has been closed to public use for about 15 years. Because of water problems under the floor, the floorboards have buckled and mold is growing on the walls in some places.

Fans and dehumidifiers in the basement are not enough to correct the problem.

Carpeting in part of the basement holds moisture and also contributes to the mold.

Mike Buchner, village trustee and chair of the public property committee, wondered if a cleaning service, such as Servpro or Service Master, would be able to sufficiently clean up the mold.

Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, said she would obtain quotes for cleaning the municipal building basement and would put the item on the agenda for the next Colfax Village Board meeting.

Ponto also said she was in the process of gathering contacts for companies that deal with indoor air quality problems.

Buchner and Rick Johnson, village trustee and a member of the property committee, agreed that part of the cleaning process should involve removing materials and records stored in the basement by groups that used the building 30 or 40 years ago.

Mark Halpin, village trustee and a member of the property committee, did not attend the meeting.


The Colfax Village Board’s parks committee met prior to the public property committee, and one item of business related to planting trees at the Colfax Fairgrounds.

Annie Schieber, village trustee and chair of the parks committee, said that after the Colfax Free Fair in June, representatives of the Colfax FFA Alumni had contacted her about planting more trees at the fairgrounds.

The trees would be intended to provide shade for the area between the buildings and the stage, she said.

Rick Johnson, village trustee and a member of the parks committee, said planting more trees had been discussed several years ago, and in fact, one new tree was planted last year.

Jim Eggert, who donated the new tree for the fairgrounds and one for the school grounds, suggested that the village should not plant more ash trees.

The trees on the north side of the driveway at the fairgrounds are ash trees, and while the Emerald Ash Borer has not yet invaded Dunn County, the insect is becoming more of a problem in Wisconsin, and eventually the ash trees will die out, he said.

Eggert suggested that the village contact a forester for advice and also suggested that disease-resistant elm trees might be a good choice.

Schieber said she would contact the FFA to find out how much money the group wants to contribute to the tree project.


Jeff Prince, representing the Colfax Softball Association, talked to the parks committee about the Tom Prince Memorial Park use agreement.

Prince said the softball association had wanted it spelled out what CSA would pay for and what the village would pay for.

The desire for more clarity mushroomed into a 16-page agreement from a large municipality that was whittled down to a six-page agreement for Colfax, he said.

The Colfax Softball Association and the village have not signed the agreement since 2011, Prince noted.

Prince told the committee that he and other members of CSA think the full agreement is overkill and that a one-page document listing the responsibilities of the association and the village would be sufficient.

Tom Prince Memorial Park is a village park, but the Colfax Softball Association schedules events and pays for half of the expenses at the park, such as electricity, fuel for the four-wheeler and maintenance.

Prince also noted that the association would like to install lights in the second field.

The softball association has had to turn away tournaments because the second field is not available for use in the evening without lights, he said.

The Little League teams also cost-share on expenses, he said, adding that the idea has been bantered around to ask the surrounding townships for financial support seeing as some of those residents use the ball field as well.

Schieber suggested that the village work with the Colfax Softball Association to put requests in the parks budget, and that this fall, the agreement be reviewed, amended if necessary, and then signed for the following year.