By CHRIS McBRIDE
WARREN — Renovations that led to the discovery of asbestos have forced the Trumbull County Board of Elections to close its offices temporarily.
The asbestos was found when demolition crews began working on the building’s interior. Board of Elections Director Stephanie Penrose said it mostly was located in the front office.
“This decision was made at the advice of experts in the field of asbestos removal and Trumbull County Building Inspection for the health and safety of the staff and public,” Penrose said.
The building is having interior renovations funded by $259,900 in American Rescue Plan Act money that was recently awarded. Upcoming renovations will provide more room for citizens to vote safely with less congestion.
The renovations will push the front counter back by 4 feet. A second door will be added to the left of the door that’s there now, said Michael Sliwinski, Trumbull County chief building inspector. People will enter where offices are now to sign in and verify their information, then will move into the current lobby along the counter and large window to voting cubicles. From there, they can exit out the existing door.
Penrose said the asbestos posed no threat to workers or community members who frequent the building, stating that the asbestos is only dangerous when airborne.
An expert in asbestos removal will visit next week, and from there she said the board will be taking the week off, returning Dec. 27.
Outside of the main office, Penrose said another area also is affected. But the cleanup will be a two-phase project with the first phase looking to take place next week and the other to be remediated sometime after the May 2023 election.
A decision was made to ensure renovations could be completed ahead of early voting a month before the primary election in 2023, she said.