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CreMold closes Loudon hotel Owner, builders, designers working on problem
By REBECCA FERRAR,
December 18, 2002

One of the key issues forcing closure of the Holiday Inn Express in Loudon County is a mysterious mold in the rooms, the construction contractor and state health inspectors have confirmed.

Buddy Heins, director of business development with Merit Construction of Knoxville, said Tuesday all the parties involved are trying to reach a solution.

"It's an unfortunate situation, and there are a variety of factors that involve a lot of different people," Heins said. "Various entities, the designers, engineers, architects, contractors, we're all discussing it. We're trying to discern what the problems are. There is some mold in the building. The root of it is the real issue."

The 2-year-old hotel on Highway 72 near Interstate 75 was closed Nov. 1, almost a year after mold was discovered by the owners and then by Carmen Pardue, environmental specialist with the state Department of Health.

Pardue said that when she found the mold during an inspection on Nov. 30, 2001, hotel workers "were trying to clean it at that time."

JAG Properties LLC owns the hotel. JAG principals Joy Littleton, her husband Grayling Littleton, and her brother Allen Hildreath have declined comment on the hotel's closing other than a terse press release saying it was due to "construction-related matters."

When JAG Properties announced it was closing the hotel, the press release said it would be temporary.

The owners have retained attorney Gene Rash of Charlotte, N.C., who declined to comment on how his clients plan to resolve the matter.

Rash identified the architects of the hotel as Barber & McMurray Inc. Architects of Knoxville. Officials from the firm did not return phone calls.

During another health inspection in April, Larry Manis, state environmental district supervisor who also works for the state Health Department, found some rooms were closed off.

"We were told about the mold," Manis said. "We did not find mold. The rooms that were closed did have the mold. The owner of the motel found the mold. She (Joy Littleton) told us they had construction problems. They had rooms they could not rent because of mold coming through the walls in the spring. I understand it started showing up shortly after the motel opened."

Manis continued, "The way I understand it is, she has turned it over to the contractor's insurance companies. She was real unhappy with the construction."

Manis said the construction company's insurance company brought in environmental experts to assess the situation. He said the hotel was not closed on orders of the Health Department.

Last month, Allison Sousa, former Loudon County Chamber of Commerce president, speaking on behalf of the Littletons, said a thorough investigation was being conducted on the construction issues affecting the hotel, but she declined to say who was doing the investigation.

Health Department inspectors will resume inspections once the hotel reopens and such inspections cover general sanitation of the hotel, including bedrooms, bedding and bathrooms.

The hotel opened in the fall of 2000.

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