A plumbing valve malfunction allowed water to pour into some Graves County Courthouse offices over the weekend, forcing one office to limit services Monday as equipment was replaced.
Graves Circuit Judge Tim Stark said a valve in the ceiling above the second floor over an outer office area in his office complex sprang a leak sometime between 4:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, when Circuit Clerk Emily Buzanis discovered it.
Buzanis had decided to catch up on some paperwork Saturday morning when she opened the door to her office on the first floor, just under Stark's office, and found water sheeting down onto the floor and running out of computer keyboards and ceiling tiles collapsed onto parts of four employees' cubicles.
"We did have some paperwork that got wet, but I tried to lay it all out and let it dry," Buzanis said. "It's wrinkled, but it has all been salvaged."
Some computer equipment had to be replaced, along with some telephones. Buzanis called the Administrative Office of the Courts, which had replacements brought in on Monday morning. Luckily, she said, the office's servers are across the main hall in the driver's licensing division and were not affected.
Buzanis' employees set up a folding table, surrounded by yellow caution tape, in the hallway outside the office Monday, allowing people to pick up forms and file court paperwork.
"We decided in order for us to clean stuff up, we couldn't open our windows," Buzanis said.
The windows reopened Tuesday, but large fans remained, pulling out moisture.
Judge-Executive Judge Jesse Perry had repairmen at the courthouse to begin cleaning up the water on Saturday. They ended up working on three floors.
"It was also pouring into our break room downstairs," Buzanis said.
Buzanis called Stark, who immediately met her at the courthouse Saturday.
"She said water was pouring in her office, and she could hear it running in mine," Stark said.
He opened the door to find between one-half inch and 1 inch of water standing in the entrance hallway. Some ceiling tiles came down, and a paper shredder was ruined, he said. A water damage remediation team worked Monday, prying wet baseboards from Stark's office walls.
"I'll have to commend Emily," Stark said. "If she hadn't been here, I don't think we would have been able to open the courthouse for a while."
The leak was the second plumbing issue the courthouse has had in the past several months. County Clerk Kim Gills said last fall a pipe burst in the ceiling above her office in the courthouse annex, requiring her to temporarily tape off one portion of the office. She also had to replace the carpet, choosing vinyl flooring instead, and repainted.