ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - The Mickey L. Burnim Fine Arts Center on the campus of ElizabethCity State University is home to the school's creative arts andmusic programs. However, the beautiful sounds that come frompractice rooms on one side of the building are in stark contrast tothe disturbing sights on the other side of the building.
ECSU officials let WAVY.com record video near the band entrance.We saw what appeared to be mold on the ceiling.
"We have to take classes outside on some days because the smelland the mold has gotten so bad," acting student Akeem Williams toldWAVY.com. He said he started wearing a mask when he can. "I wear itwhen I'm walking around the building, except when I have to performon the stage," he explained.
University administrators say the masks are new. According toProvost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Ali Kahn,"The mask issue came to our notice maybe two or three days back. Weimmediately approached that, and our leadership team has talked tofaculty."
Students who spoke with WAVY.com were not aware of any solutionson the horizon, but they said they have fears about thebuilding.
"Basically it's gotten to the point now our chests are startingto get congested, our throats started getting backed up," Williamssaid.
His friend and fellow student Damion Lamb added, "I'm in theband, and basically we have to practice outside now because of thefacility, we're afraid it's going to fall on our heads."
Khan said there have been problems in the building all semester."We had some leaking in Fine Arts and when it leaks there'smoisture and there's the air quality. We've been trying to fixthose on a case by case basis," he said.
ECSU leaders acknowledge conditions have deteriorated andwarrant a full scale solution.
For years there were problems with the roof at the fine artscenter. Administrators said there was a legal battle, and theschool won. According to the Vice Chancellor for Business andFinance, Robert Gaines, ECSU will not have to pay for the materialsto fix the roof. The school will pay only labor costs of about$66,000 to replace the roof that now allows rain to seepthrough.
Gaines said the repairs should be completed by January.
Late Friday afternoon, school administrators met to come up withan action plan for how to handle air quality concerns while theywait for state inspectors to go through the fine arts center. Theytell WAVY.com moving students, faculty, and musical equipment awayfrom areas damaged by moisture is a priority.
Other buildings are also getting attention. Across campus atMoore Hall complaints about air quality prompted officials to actlast month. Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Robert Gainestold WAVY.com, "We asked the state to come in and they didinvestigate and determined there was not any type of airhazard."
A representative from North Carolina's Department of Laborconfirmed to WAVY.com inspectors investigated a complaint at theend of September, but did not cite the university for air qualityproblems. However, Gaines said the state made suggestions whichECSU immediately implemented. "We used special agents to disinfectthe entire area to make sure there weren't any health hazardshere.... They also recommended we use dehumidifiers in the area,too," he said.
Unrelated to recent concerns about moisture problems in MooreHall, the Elizabeth City State University received a big boost for the building Friday. ECSU willget $500,000 for Moore Hall.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced 20 HistoricallyBlack Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will be the beneficiariesof $14.25 million for historic preservation grants aimed atproviding assistance in the repair of historic buildings on theircampuses.
Moore Hall was originally erected in 1922 and an addition wasbuilt in 1939 with funds from the Federal Works Agency of thePublic Works Administration. Further renovations/ interiormodifications have recurred (1961, et seq.) with 1988 providing acompletely renovated building.
It houses a portion of the Social Sciences Department and theDivision of General Studies as well as areas monitoringInstitutional Effectiveness, Planning, Outreach, and EnrollmentManagement. Elizabeth City State University will get $500,000 forMoore Hall.
In a press conference at Howard University with universitypresident Dr. Sidney A. Ribeau, Salazar noted that the Departmentmade these funds available under the American Recovery andReinvestment Act (ARRA) for projects that will repair and preservecampus buildings listed on the National Register of HistoricPlaces.
“The recovery funds not only will restore historicbuildings on these campuses but also will provide a boost toindividuals and companies performing the repairs, collegecommunities and related local economies,” Secretary of theInterior Ken Salazar said.
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