Big stink at Martinsville Courthouse


Kris Kirschner/Eyewitness News

Martinsville, Aug. 17 - The city of mineral water now suffers from a far less palatable reputation.

Maintenance worker Bart Ewing says he has "a metal taste in my mouth, sore throats and headaches."

Commissioner Norman Voyles has noticed "watery eyes, runny nose, respiratory distress."

The symptoms are caused by something that has permeated the Morgan County Courthouse the past few weeks.

It's not really an odor, it leaves no smoking gun.

Circuit Court Judge Matt Hanson says he has "never noticed an odor in particular, just reaction to what's in there."

Workers agree, "We haven't smelled anything."

Ewing calls it "a mystery," a mystery even the health department couldn't solve.

Commissioner Voyles says it's "like looking for a needle in a haystack."

Courthouse employees air out their offices the best they can.

But for some, moving is the only answer to this mystery malady.

"Circuit Court and Superior Court 3 are now in the administration building," points out Voyles.

Judge Hanson is one of a handful of people who went to the hospital after he suffered from symptoms.

Now he holds court in a conference room in a building blocks away.

And he assures, there is organization to the chaos. "We're here, we're ready to go, answering phones and done."

Criminal trials take place in the jail for the time being, until someone figures out what the stink is all about in Morgan County.

Maintenance workers checked the air conditioning and the health department conducted tests, but still no luck.

County officials say the next step is to hire an industrial hygienest and that could prove costly for Morgan County.

Circuit and Superior courts say they'll remain in their temporary locations until the problem is fixed.