By Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2020

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) - A federal courthouse in Mississippi that was deemed uninhabitable because of mold and moisture is set to undergo renovations.

Lawmakers in Washington approved a $24.3 million plan by the General Services Administration to upgrade the Thomas G. Abernethy courthouse in Aberdeen, members of Mississippi’s Congressional delegation announced last week.

“This is an outstanding outcome for the federal courthouse in Aberdeen,” U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker said in a statement. “This long overdue project will allow the GSA to complete decades of deferred maintenance, ensuring the health and safety of the public and federal workers for years to come.”

Trouble started in the summer of 2016, when the building had air conditioning problems and mold developed. A crew did remediation work that fall, but problems persisted, and courthouse employees experienced allergies and other respiratory problems. The GSA in 2017 said the building was uninhabitable.

Officials last year thought they had identified a $12 million funding stream for the project, but that fell through.

Sharion Aycock, chief judge of the northern Mississippi U.S. court district, said she was worried that new money wouldn’t materialize.

“Anytime there’s a change of administration, so many people have to get caught up to speed,” she told the Monroe Journal. “Plus, they’re in the middle of a huge budget debate. I was so worried we were going to drop through the cracks here.”

Mississippi’s other U.S. senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith, said the GSA came up with a plan to “reprogram existing dollars.” The GSA will support the project using excess funds from other repair and construction projects.

The work on the courthouse is expected to start next year and end in 2024. It will include mold and lead paint abatement and the installation of a new HVAC system.

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