The downtown building that houses the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration is unsafe for human habitation according to the city of Kokomo building inspector, and it has been closed indefinitely.
According to Inspector Nick Glover, severe water leaks forced him to order the building at 400 N. Main St. closed . . .
This is not the first time the building has been shut down this year. Glover ordered it closed from Jan. 12-16 for a similar leaking problem. In that incident, the building’s owner hired contractors to perform repair work that apparently did not address the problem . . .
The problems at the FSSA building are nothing new. In fact, the past two years have been filled with hazardous conditions, collapsing structures, and environmental concerns. Employees first reported problems in September 2011 when water began leaking into the building and making its way through three stories to the ground floor, running down walls and filling light fixtures.
Ceiling tiles began collapsing, exposing soaked insulation. And after each rain that caused the leaking, a sewage smell filled the building.
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) investigated on Nov. 1, and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) investigated on Dec. 20, 2011. The results of their testing came back showing legitimate problems, but none of them approached the level of immediate risk.
As a result of those problems, FSSA employees reported respiratory problems, and several were treated for allergic reactions to mold. Other contaminants found during testing included lead and an elevated level of carbon dioxide.
On Jan. 26, 2012, FSSA building was shut down due to multiple structural problems, including a leaking roof, sewage in the basement, and bricks falling from the rear of the building. The building was reopened on Jan. 28, but problems continued.
The building is owned by Venture Real Estate a firm headed by real estate broker John M. Bales. Bales was a big donor to the campaigns of Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Indiana Republican Party. Since 2006, many state offices in several communities relocated to Venture Real Estate-owned properties. The Kokomo FSSA office similarly relocated from a newly constructed facility on East Superior Street and into the Venture-owned building.So here's yet another building that John Bales' Venture Real Estate owns that is being leased by a state agency in clear violation of his state contract. Even worse, it's a shoddy building that is not being properly maintained and posing a health and safety risk for every state employee who must occupy the decrepit building. Ask the incompetent federal prosecutors who blew the case against Bales why this and other buildings owned by Bales that are being leased by state agencies weren't included in the government's case against him and his business partner. And so much for the tears Bales shed in the courtroom this evening because of what the government put him through for simply trying to help protect the state's children while he engaged in a scheme to defraud Indiana taxpayers. Bales gets richer and kicks back money to the corrupt politicians who give him a license to steal, state employees suffer and the taxpayers get stuck holding the bill. Thank you Mitch Daniels, Barnes & Thornburg and John Bales for your "scheme to help." We're all better off for it. Right?