Conference center update
Staff and employees of the Baltimore-Washington Conference have vacated the conference center in Columbia while efforts continue to rid the building of mold.
About 55 people are affected by the move. Most of the workers have relocated across the parking lot to cramped quarters in a similar building. Others are working from home or have relocated to nearby United Methodist churches.
Bishop Felton Edwin May, in a cover letter for a question and answer fact sheet being sent out to all churches in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, said, In order to safeguard everyones health, all staff and employees have vacated the building while more clean-up work and testing is done.
Bishop May stressed that only when the building is declared safe by environmental experts will any person be allowed back in the building. The Rev. Jim Knowles-Tuell, conference treasurer, said that that process could take 90 days or longer.
Staff and employees are being encouraged by Bishop May and their immediate supervisors to seek medical advice, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. One medical expert in the field, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, is willing to take us on as a corporate patient Bishop May said.
My hope is that everyone will avail themselves of this service, Bishop May said. Shoemaker was scheduled to visit the conference center to do testing of staff and employees after Christmas.
Bishop May, along with Knowles-Tuell and Martha Knight, associate financial officer for administration, met with the conferences board of trustees Dec. 16 to deal with the present situation and care for the future. Im very pleased with their response, said Bishop May.
Meanwhile, staff and employees may still be contacted through their usual phone and fax numbers, or through their usual e-mail address, reported Knight. A listing of some of those numbers is printed below.
Aspergillus mold was first discovered at the conference center Nov. 8. Remediation efforts began soon thereafter. Knowles-Tuell reported that as of press time Dec. 19, the exact strain of mold is unknown.
For more frequent up-dates on the conference center situation, go to www.bwconf.org , the conferences Web site, or receive, free of charge, the conferences electronic newsletter, e-connection, by subscribing through the Web site.