Courthouse Leak Irritates Staff and Damages County Building

Clarke County High School is not the only public building with air conditioning problems this summer.   A poorly designed air conditioning duct in the ceiling of the Clarke County Juvenile and Domestic Relations clerk’s office that has been ignored for several years may also be presenting health and safety issues.

Chronic water damage in the ceiling of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court clerk's office - Photo Edward Leonard

“The problem has been reported many times in the past but no one is willing to fix it” said one court official. “I’m concerned that there could be an electrical fire from the water getting onto the wires.”

The ceiling area above the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court clerk’s desk gives a constant drip-drip-drip of condensation water. Plastic garbage cans have been placed below the leak on two chairs intended for office visitors to catch the water.

The dripping water makes the sound of a drum as it splashes into the cans.

Drip — Drip — Drip —

According to court officials, maintenance personal say that poorly designed air conditioning duct work is the root cause of the leak. Fixing the problem they say will be a lot of work because there isn’t much space between the cold air ducts and the drywall ceiling. The tight duct routing makes it difficult from air to circulate resulting in water condensation that soaks through causing the leak.

However, the repair excuses haven’t made the staff working in the office feel much better.

Drip — Drip — Drip —

“The plastic light cover fills up with water so we have the buckets here to keep the floor from getting soaked” said one court staffer. “We asked if we could just take down the plastic light cover but someone told us that removing the cover is a fire hazard.”

Waste baskets serve as makeshift rain barrels in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court clerk's office - Photo Edward Leonard

When asked if allowing water to collect in an electrical light fixture might also present a potential electrical hazard a staff member said “You would think so.”

Drip — Drip — Drip —

Over the past year Clarke County has spent several hundred thousand dollars renovating its courthouse complex. With renovations having just been completed, a fire caused by a known electrical problem, like the one in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations clerk’s office, not only would present unnecessary risk to employees, but also place additional strains on the county’s already tight budget.

But despite a potential disaster-in-waiting, court employees say that they are already being subjected to an unhealthy and unsafe work environment. Court staff members say that the office ceiling, which bears the chronic effects of long term water damage, is a source of mold and mildew which can make breathing uncomfortable at times. They’ve also been alarmed, at least once, by safety concerns that they believe are linked to the leak.

“At one point there was smoke coming from the light” said a court official. “The situation is definitely not good.”

Drip — Drip — Drip —


  1. Really, Leaking for years. We can,t even fix the little things. Now it seems to have turned into somthing a lot more expensive. SOP for Clarke County Adminstration. Leave them alone to long and they could mess up a soup sandwich.

  2. Smellin roses says:

    When ya deal with the lowest bidder, you often get what ya pay for.

  3. Vote for a new Board of Supervisors then who have the cajones to raise the taxes to meet the needs of the majority of the citizens of Clarke County, rather than the few landed gentry.

  4. BoB the builder says:

    Remove the moldy drywall, lower the ceiling, and insulate the ductwork. Stop scratching your head and pointing fingers. Doesn’t matter who did the work. The building was inspected and accepted. Fix it!

    • Dmaxnjackson says:

      R/W, come on now. That make too much sense. Sometimes people just make mountains outta mole hills. CC government at it’s finest. What a joke.

  5. Because I Care says:

    As long as they provide the materials and maybe some lunch and beverages, I’d be willing to volunteer with a few of my fellow citizens to get these little problems taken care of once and for all since they seem to be just sitting on their hands wondering what to do.