State to move employees from building during inspection

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(Host) State officials plan to move employees out of the Bennington State Office Building while they further explore a cluster of illnesses there.

The building houses local offices of corrections, human services and district and family courts.

Employees have been worried since this summer, when they learned that six workers in the building had been diagnosed with Sarcoydosis. That’s a rare inflammatory disease that attacks the lungs and other organs.

State Health Commissioner Sharon Moffat says a worker survey also revealed higher than normal complaints of asthma and asthma-like symptoms.

(Moffat) “And because of that, we know that we need to do further investigative and diagnostic work of the building. So we’ve made the decision to activate relocating all individuals from that building so they’re not in the building at the time of this diagnostic and potentially remodeling work that needs to be done.”

(Host) Moffat says there’s no clear evidence linking the building to any illness at this point.

Tasha Wallis, the state Buildings Commissioner, says Probation, Parole and Corrections will move to an office trailer near their current offices. Human Services and the courts will be in two vacant buildings in town — although the courts may wait until after an upcoming murder trial.

Wallis says the relocation and tests could cost around $750,000.

(Wallis) “But then we may have additional costs for renovations to the building and for contracting for the diagnostic testing.”

(Host) Wallis got an ovation from the workers Thursday when she promised that any renovations to the building would include operable windows.

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