I know I owe y’all a News Roundup, but that’s going to have to wait until Monday due to my house being invaded by all sorts of relatives; friendly relatives, but still not conducive to blog posting.
Instead, can we turn our attention back to poor neglected Eaton School in Hattiesburg? As you may remember, Eaton, built in 1905 and listed on the National Register, received a grant last year from MDAH to put a new roof on it and do other repairs, after it had been vacant for many years. But as noted here on MissPres, things went awry very quickly: apparently due to either architect or contractor error, the framing members of the first new roof were at a very low slope, nothing near to the original. So, MDAH made the contractor start over, and get the slope right, which is kind of basic even though the papers made it seem like some ticky thing required by the preservation folks. So, the contractor tore off the new/old trusses. From what I can gather from the newspaper reports, this all took place in January of this year.
But then when I drove by the school in mid-February, I was shocked to see no roof whatsoever on the building, just warped roof trusses, several weeks after I had heard about the mistaken first roof. Hattiesburg City Council member Deborah Denard Delgado raised the issue at council meetings and got a confused response from the mayor. At that point I wondered who in the world was in charge of this project for the city that the building could have been just left standing like that in the middle of a very wet winter. Was anybody riding herd on the contractor?
At the end of March when I drove through, the building finally had a roof on it, but it wasn’t completed, and I continued to be befuddled by the lack of progress on this sadly neglected project.
Well, according to a follow-up article in the Hattiesburg American, the building suffered major structural damage during the time it had no roof (and to be clear, there was already rot on the second floor from the roof leaking, but no floors collapsing as has apparently now happened.) Why it has taken another two months to get a structural report is beyond me and seems to just give further credence to the notion that no one is in charge of this project.
If damage occurred to the building because the contractor or the architect was negligent or incompetent, then that’s what bonding companies are for–file a claim against them and get this thing fixed at their expense. The City could also have applied for a grant specifically designated for historic schools from the Lowe’s Foundation and the National Trust–that is, if anyone had been paying attention before the deadline of April 30.
I think the recent words of my new favorite stand-up guy, James Carville, apply in this situation: “You got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this thing and get this thing moving!!!!!”