Center battles bacteria

Published 6:00 am Sunday, December 24, 2006


Staff Reports

The Natchez Democrat

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NATCHEZ &8212; The Natchez Visitors Center received results this week from tests conducted on the bookstore, and findings were mixed, a statement released Friday said.

A summary of results indicate that air samples taken inside the building showed moderate levels of microbial counts, according to the statement.

The carpet in the bookstore was removed earlier this month because of worries about mold and mildew.

Samples taken in hallways and in the bookstore storage area indicate lower microbial levels than the outside air.

However, a number of the swab samples taken from surfaces in the bookstore and National Park Service office areas, as well as the inside of the air conditioning system, showed high levels of bacteria, fungi and yeast.

The preliminary report did not contain actual numbers, the statement said.

&8220;This is a very brief report,&8221; Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins said in the statement.

&8220;It does tell us that there are issues that will probably not be resolved by just replacing the carpet, but we need to see the full report next week to understand what these findings mean and see what remediation is recommended.&8221;

Illnesses suffered by some long-time employees of the center may be connected with the environment, Jenkins said in the statement.

According to a 1998 agreement, the City of Natchez is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the center.