In a letter to Portsmouth Council President David Malone, Kegley wrote concerning the deplorable conditions in which he says a substantial number of city employees and elected officials work every day.
“I refer, of course, to the Portsmouth City Building at 728 Second St., Portsmouth. For my entire tenure on the Portsmouth Municipal Court, the City Building has been a structural nightmare: a sieve for a roof; mold throughout the walls; the north wall separating from the rest of the building to the extent that the building was condemned, shuttered and closed for several days,” Kegley said. “During my tenure, I have experienced solid sheets of water in my chambers doorway to the courtroom/council chamber; plaster falling on courtroom participants, ceiling tiles collapsing onto furnishings and equipment and the destruction of personal and court property.”
Kegley related that in the last three months he has entered the judge’s office complex only to find ceiling tiles down and water dripping into electrical outlets, power strips and electronic equipment.
“This Monday, we found rain pouring into my secretary’s office that continued to drip for more than 12 hours after the rain ceased to fall, as well as an inch of water in the hallway up against the door entering the courtroom,” Kegley said. “We here at the court have been patient to the point of endangering our employees’ health. Our patience certainly is not inexhaustible; in fact, at this time, it no longer exists at all,” Kegley said. “At the very least, we expect City Council and the Mayor at the next meeting of the Council to authorize expenditures, seek bids and hire a competent contractor to replace, not repair, the entire roof of 728 Second St. We also expect Council to authorize the expenditure of funds for mold abatement, as well.”
Kegley then cites action by Council that included their approval of $148,000 and $103,698.13 to provide wireless connectivity for the City Building, “for which there was absolutely no need.” Kegley said the roof is a necessity and should be approved “without hesitation.”
Meanwhile, Municipal Judge Steven Mowery spoke to Council Monday night to reiterate the demand by Kegley.
“As some of you may know from the article in the (Portsmouth Daily) Times, and from listening to the news, we had water in this building, significantly after last Sunday’s rain, to the point that it damaged equipment, left files wet, left the courtroom on Judge Kegley’s side basically unworkable for a while,” Mowery said. “Judge Kegley and I haven’t yet had the opportunity to sit down and put on paper all of the options that we have, however, he and I do agree that the time has come to act. The time has come now where action must be taken. We do agree on that.”
Mowery said the judges believe that the city can no longer do nothing about the problem.
“We believe as operators of the city courts it is paramount that something occur, because we believe that the people who work in this building are in danger,” Mowery said. “And what I would implore Council to do and the Mayor to do is to act in some manner to resolve the issue.”
Murray has presented to Council an estimate from Stevens Construction for $65,000 to replace the roof, repair parapet walls, tuck point, abate mold, and fix interior water damage.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232 or email@example.com