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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Abundant rain displaces meal site for seniors

  • Participants have to go across the street to Henry Hill indefinitely
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    The senior mealsite has been moved to Henry Hill after a deluge of water has turned the library building into a marshy, impracticable mess.
    Robbin Bendel, senior advocate and mealsite director, entered the basement of the library, where her office and the senior mealsite operate, after the mid-June succession of severe weather to find running water in the floor vents.
    “It almost sounded like I was at the lake with the water hitting the docks and the boats,” Bendel said. “I thought ‘oh my gosh, what happened here?’ It was moldy, mushy, smelly – it was awful.”
    After calling the city office, the city crew came to the site and pumped water out through the kitchen for five straight days. Three weeks earlier, a dehumidifier was placed in the stairwell, and despite being emptied twice a day, mold continued to grow as water ran down the sides of the building, peeling paint and saturating the walls.
    “This move is for their safety,” Bendel said. “They shouldn’t be breathing this in. It is just not safe.”
    For the foreseeable future, the seniors will have their meals and other activities at Henry Hill, despite qualms from some mealsite patrons.
    “They don’t like change,” Bendel said. “Some of them ask why they can’t use the regular building, but five have already gotten sick [from the mold]. They shouldn’t be here.”
    City response
    After several members of the City office and Prairie Five members surveyed the scene, Eric Hedman of Prairie Five made the call to temporarily move the mealsite.
    “The decision was the right one,” City Manager Bill Lavin said. “We need to figure out what is wrong with the building and fix it.”
    Lavin pointed out that unlike the senior mealsite, the library on the main floor cannot be temporarily relocated, prompting the need for a quick but substantial response.
    Countryside Public Health did a thorough inspection and further confirmed mold and mildew in the building. The findings will be presented at the July 7 Granite Falls City Council meeting, where Lavin hopes to have a recommendation for a proposal for fixing the building.
    Before the meeting, Lavin will be meeting with an engineer to do a complete report on what to remedy.
    “We have had problems in the past, but [our fixes] were just a band aid,” Lavin said, saying that their response should be “pretty extensive so it doesn’t happen again.”

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