Watch the mold and try not to fall through the floor
By MAKAYLA TENDALL
The first step into the condemned Grand Junction Community Center is a dicey one, as the floor boards are so rotten that they may give way before the center closes in August.
Mold swiss-cheesed the building, leaving chunks of moldy ceiling tile littering carpets and floor boards weak. A Grand Junction resident fell through the moldy kitchen floor in the center 15 years ago, trapping her leg.
What looks to be black mold has crept from behind drywall and wood paneling to snake around electrical outlets, and Mayor Gerold Herrick said the mold will soon attack electric outlets and wires.
“When it’s full of mold you’re better off just tearing it down. We felt like it was easier to close it down than to go through all of the red tape and paperwork to make us shut down,” said Shirley Herrick, Gerold’s wife.
The mold is evident as soon you enter the building, with a tightening of the throat and watering of eyes. Many Grand Junction residents who attended regular meetings and used the center daily will no longer enter it for fear or respiratory problems.
But Gerold, Shirley and a few other residents go to the Community Center every day to sell donated household items to raise money for a new community center.
Through sales, pledges and donations, nearly $6,000 has been raised for a new community center, said Diane Wise, who is organizing plans for the new building.
While a local donor committed to matching what Wise’s organization will raise and they received a grant from the Greene County Community Foundation for $8,000, Wise said she’s hoping for more pledges from community members and a good turnout at a fundraising auction in August.
With the loss of the community center in August, many clubs will be forced to find a new meeting place such as the Rotary, Lions, Legion Auxiliary and Women’s clubs. Gerold said most community members are “just tickled” to have a new community center because some residents have used the same center all their lives.
“They’re just hoping they live long enough to use it,” Gerold said.
And the Community Center is a must for those residents, Shirley said.
“They don’t have anything else to do,” Shirley said about the elderly women who still meet in the moldy center every day. “They’d just sit at home and be depressed, so this gives them something to do. They’ll sit here in the heat all afternoon and sweat, but it’s better here than it is at home.
“They have a reason to live when they can come up here and play cards.”
Two years ago, five or six Grand Junction women tore down the buildings surrounding the Community Center, but the center stayed because residents still need a place to meet, and Gerold said the mold was endurable at that point.
Wise said the new center will ideally be large enough for receptions and large meetings.
The proposed plan is 6,000 square feet, but that measurement may be reduced depending on funding.
For now, Gerold, Shirley and Wise will continue selling donated items in the Community Center and push for donations.
“We’ll be able to envision this and see it now,” Gerold said.