Mold ruled out at old courthouse

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Cause of odor still a mystery

By The Staff

San Miguel County officials are still trying to determine what caused the foul smell that made employees in the Assessor’s Office sick on Tuesday, but they have been able to rule out mold.

County Manager Les Montoya said that the Albuquerque lab called in to conduct tests ruled out mold on Wednesday.

Besides combing through the Assessor’s Office, the firm went to the building’s basement and didn’t find anything of concern.

The Assessor’s Office is located on the first floor of the old county courthouse building.

Employees in the Assessor’s Office first noticed the smell last week. They complained of headaches and reported that it was hurting their eyes.

There was no report of the smell on Monday, but the odor resurfaced on Tuesday morning, and employees in the Assessor’s Office began complaining of headaches and nausea.

That office was closed and employees were asked to go to the emergency room to get checked out. Later that morning, Montoya decided to dismiss all county employees working in that building as a precautionary measure. The Assessor’s Office employees all checked out OK, Montoya said.

Employees returned to work Thursday morning, though the Assessor’s Office remained closed. Those employees were working in the Commission Chambers on the building’s second floor.

Montoya said the firm that conducted tests in the building couldn’t pinpoint the cause of the odor, which comes and goes. He said Wednesday afternoon that he planned to bring in a hygienist to look for what could be causing the foul smell. Over the weekend, the county was also planning to use a process that brings in fresh air molecules to clean out any bad smells.

“It should be free of smells on Monday morning,” Montoya said. But he said the concern he has is that the odor might return.