News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Dec. 16, 2011
AUGUSTA, GA. -- Seven months after a News 12 investigation about mold in housing units at Fort Gordon, changes are being made.
This week demo crews tore down six units in the Gordon Terrace community. It is all part of their ongoing renovations. Demolition started in October.
Arthur Washington, Balfour Beatty Communities Project Director at Fort Gordon says they are demolishing six units of the 70 set to be knocked down.
"These homes here we have identified as really not the quality of homes we want our service members to reside in," he explained.
In May, News 12 interviewed a family who claimed mold in their Balfour Beatty home made their daughter sick. Kourtney Shelton and her husband have a collection of pictures and doctor's records they say backs up claims of the sickening mold.
"There were certain spots where it was black and we just knew," Shelton said. "We knew then we had a really big problem."
Edwin Maner, Owner of Duraclean Systems, inspected the Sheltons' home.
"It was some heavy mold in there. Without doing some testing, I wouldn't know for sure. But it looked like mold and some dust that had been painted over for several years," Maner said.
News 12's Katie Beasley asked Maner back in May, "Would you live in a house like that?"
Maner immediately responded, "No ma'am, I would not."
Back on post, crews are now working to both renovate and rebuild more than 500 homes at Fort Gordon. Balfour Beatty says issues like moisture concerns, energy efficiency and location problems are some of the reasons the buildings are being leveled. Kelly Barchanowicz works with Balfour Beatty and walked through a renovated home, pointed out the new wood flooring, hardware and appliances throughout the house. They've also replaced siding on the outside of the units. She said the improvements are incredible.
Back in May, Shelton admitted, "It doesn't have to have marble counter tops and hardwood floors, but just basic safe living conditions, a basic safe home."
"Everything takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. Be a little patient with us," Washington said. "We do try to strive to give the service members or soldiers what they need, but we don't have a bag of money where we can just do it all with the wave of a wand."
Col. Robert Barker, garrison commander of Fort Gordon, visited the demolition site Tuesday morning. He even manned the bulldozer, making the first "swing" into the buildings.
"The sooner we can get them taken down, the sooner we can build new and better homes for the soldiers," Barker said. "And make the life better for both our families and our soldiers here on post."
Balfour Beatty says they hope by next year, all of their homes at Fort Gordon will either be renovated or completely rebuilt.
"We are moving forward and that's a good thing. We're constantly taking steps forward in a positive way and not taking two steps back," Washington said.