Sheriff addresses mold issue in County Jail

County moves forward to find company to fix issue

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles asked for quick action and he got it during Monday's County Commissioners Court meeting.

As ABC-7 has reported, mold was discovered recently inside the downtown El Paso County Jail. Wiles told commissioners during Monday's meeting that the mold was throughout the duct work in the jail. However, he stated a majority of the mold is in the duct work in the basement and the first floor where they have an older-style air conditioning system.

"It needs to be cleaned up," Wiles told commissioners. "I'm here today to ask your approval to get a vendor and clean it up."

Wiles did ask for a key change to procedure. He asked that the county considered a public safety exception that would allow the bidding process to be done differently than most jobs.

Instead of allowing blueprints to be seen by anyone willing to bid, the county employees in charge of the bidding process will directly contact the prospective companies.

Wiles said it was important to proceed in this matter.

"It could pose a security and safety threat to the jail, the inmates and the employees," said Wiles, later adding that it would be a smart move for the everyday citizens as well.

Commissioners did not hesitate to approve. Commissioner Carlos Leon, a former law enforcement agent himself, was the first to move to approve the item. The county judge moved to second the item. It passed 4-to-1.

Despite the limited amount of bids, County Judge Veronica Escobar said she didn't believe it would hamper the cost of the project. Both Escobar and Wiles agreed the issue needed to move forward quickly.

Wiles was adamant that the mold didn't pose a health risk. He stated air quality tests showed that there was less mold in the air inside the jail than outside of it according to research they had done. However, he said the state has rules that require quick action.

He said the three companies in El Paso that are equipped to remediate the mold that was found are often used by schools during the summer. He wanted to move the issue forward quickly so they could contract one of the companies before that work began.

A cost for the project is unknown at this time.

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