Cumberland County Freeholder candidates Tonetta, Sheppard and Fiocchi and County Clerk Candidate Noto have issued the following press release.
Not only are pieces of the façade falling off, now your Court House is flooded. A rain storm came through Bridgeton on August 12 and three to four feet (not inches) of water wound up flooding the lowest level floor of the Court House inundating the Probation Department, the Finance Unit and other facilities. The Court House was closed for business all day August 13 but reopened on Friday, August 14. County workers and contractors worked day and night to try to correct the horrendous conditions.
“Obviously no one can control the weather,” Freeholder candidate Rick Tonetta said, “but you can control how it affects you.” “It is interesting to notice that the flooding was in the new part of the Court House – the addition,” Tonetta continued. The old part of the Court House is unaffected. The Court House addition was designed and built under Democrat control with contractors and professionals of their choosing. They spent $12 million dollars and built an albatross. Problems have haunted the new Court House addition from almost day one but the Democrat controlled Freeholder Board failed to effectively hold the construction company responsible and didn’t get around to suing them until it was too late to sue. The building was built on the cheap and it shows. The taxpayers of Cumberland County did not get a good value for the money they spent. We were looking at a $14 million repair to a $12 million building before this. Who knows how much this will add to the total cost. The current estimate of $50,000 will prove grossly insufficient to cover the eventual all-inclusive cost.”
Freeholder candidate Tom Sheppard commented, “All of the County and State employees who work there will be paid for the day the Court House was closed but you, the taxpayer, are getting nothing in return. The additional expense to do the clean up, the overtime and contractors just add to the huge waste of money and we’ve yet to find out if the County’s insurance will even pay for the damage. An estimate of $50,000 for the damage has been given. I would call that a guess, not an estimate. Don’t be surprised when that “estimate” doubles or triples. It may take a year or two for all the damages to be honestly calculated but it’s my guess that it will cost $50,000 just to replace the damaged equipment. What a disgrace.”
“You have your 7-0 Democrat Freeholder Board to thank once again for improper design, construction and maintenance of the Court House,” said Freeholder Candidate Sam Fiocchi. “Simple grading of the site to prevent water from accumulating against the building would probably have prevented this. Sure it rained a lot but I haven’t heard about any other building having this kind of problem. This wasn’t some building thrown together by a do it yourselfer.”
Fiocchi agreed with Sheppard, “What a disgrace.”
County Clerk Gloria Noto, running for re-election, assured the public, “On Thursday, the day of the flood, I demanded that County Administrator Mecouch have the building inspected by qualified environmental engineers to assure the safety of the public and also of the employees who may have to handle contaminated items. All of the air from the contaminated areas is circulated throughout the entire building. Everyone who works at the Court House or visits it is breathing whatever is living or growing in that mess. I have been told that such an inspection was done prior to the re-opening of the Court House although the particulars of the inspection have not yet been released. It’s just a disgrace that lack of basic foresight and lack of simple, prudent building maintenance has caused this huge disruption. It’s a sad day when a taxpayer of Cumberland County can’t probate his mother’s will, record a deed or see justice done in the Courts.”