Fleas force county office move to start from scratch

The Columbia County Office building at 401 State Street, Hudson, currently does or does not have fleas, depending on the source. Photo by Jeanette Wolfberg

HUDSON–Fleas have disrupted Columbia County offices in 401 State Street, but Matt Murell, chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, said, “We think we found the problem, and we’re going to repair it.”

For now, board committee meetings take place in the Board Chambers (formerly the auditorium), because the county Board of Elections is working in the committee meeting room, because its office is undergoing treatment for fleas. Mr. Murell said he expects the arrangement to last “for the rest of the year.”

The problem started at the end of July, when some Board of Elections employees began complaining about bites, Mr. Murell said on September 9. When fleas were identified, everybody who worked in the building was sent home, and the building was fumigated. But soon the problem recurred in the Board of Elections office. Since then, that office has undergone additional spraying, and its carpets and floor boards have been removed.

Fumigations and treatments occur at times county employees are not expected in the building the chairman said. “Whatever we’ve done, our first thought is employee safety,” said Mr. Murell.

He was optimistic that the fleas will be gone and new wood floors will be in place around the end of the year.

Calls to the Board of Elections were unsuccessful in finding anyone there who could talk about the situation.

Before the flea problem arose, the Board of Elections was planning to expand its office, into rooms currently used by the Veterans Services Bureau, which plans to move to new quarters on Fairview Avenue. Now the problem is delaying the Veterans Service Bureau move.

“Everything is set to go,” Gary Flaherty, executive director of the veterans agency, said September 9. But the hold-up came because, “I want to make sure we don’t” transport any fleas to the new building. So the move is waiting until both floors of the Fairview building as well as “everything we bring over” there, are sprayed.

“I’m anxious to get out to there,” he said. “Get away from the bugs.”

Kelly Baccaro, clerk of the Board of Supervisors, said September 6 that her office had no fleas and was working normally.

But Mr. Flaherty said September 9 that earlier that day someone in his office had been bitten. “Fleas are in the whole building,” he said. “They started in the Board of Elections and spread.” And after fumigation, “they keep coming back.”

Mr. Flaherty reported that Ace Hardware in Chatham keeps selling out its flea treatment supplies. “They say fleas are worse this year than ever.”

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