For Henry County Family Court Judge Tim Feely, a “disgusting” discovery of dead birds began when he fed his interest in and curiosity about architecture.
One day during a break in court proceedings, Feely decided to check out the cupola that leads to the clock tower at the Henry County Courthouse. What he found stopped him in his tracks.
“The steps (to the cupola) are covered in guano,” he said last week. “And, interestingly enough, there were two dead pigeons on the bottom step. I was like, that’s pretty disgusting.”
Feely told someone at the courthouse about his discovery, and suggested that someone remove the birds.
Three or four weeks later, Feely said, he was curious about whether or not the birds had been removed.
“The dead pigeons were gone, but there were three or four birds in their place,” he said. “I thought well, that’s disgusting, and closed the door.”
That was just over two weeks ago. On June 19, Feely said he checked behind the door again. The birds were still there, and this time, “the doorway going up to the attic was covered with large horse flies.”
After someone suggested the flies were there for the dead birds, Feely said he checked behind the door again. “The same dead birds that had been there (were still there),” Feely said.
Feely decided he’d seen enough and spoke with Henry County Attorney Virginia Harrod, telling her to bring the issue up at that night’s Fiscal Court meeting.
Harrod did so.
“Today and last week, there were dead pigeons at the foot of the door from the bell tower,” Harrod told the court last week. “Apparently, (Feely’s) been watching the issue. Today, there were a lot of big nasty flies.”
Harrod acknowledged in the meeting the courthouse superintendent Randall Rogers sprayed for the bugs.
Magistrate David Brown said during the meeting that he had been in the courthouse attic, and that it was “nasty.”
He added that to clean the steps and attic “you’d have to wear a mask and stuff.”
Harrod labeled the situation as “hazmat.”
But on Monday, Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan said there was nothing to the story. “(Randall) didn’t go a week without picking up a (dead) bird, that’s stupid,” he said.
Brent acknowledged that there are bats in the tower, and that “there are some occasional pigeons,” but that there were no birds laying at the bottom of the steps “unless somebody removed them besides our superintendent.”
He added that he had no doubt there was a smell coming from the bell tower, and that Rogers proposed installing a vent fan; an item Brent estimated would cost about $200-$300 to purchase and install.
As for the guano on the steps?
“I did ask (Randall) to take some Clorox and mop down the steps,” Brent said.
When Harrod addressed the issue with the court, she pointed out that the birds were not in the courtroom, but behind a doorway in the hallway behind the courtroom.
Brent, too, stressed that “this is some place nobody goes except the maintenance man.”
Feely, however, described the condition as unsafe and “an unlocked door away from where I see 60 to 70 people every Tuesday.”
The family court judge also suggested the county find a company that can do “industrial strength cleaning” to go into the cupola and attic and take out “40 to 60 years worth of guano.”
Brent maintained that there’s no way to keep the bats and birds out of the tower, “they’ve been there for 50 or 100 year.”
“Occasionally, they will be in there,” he said. “That got blown out of proportion. I think there may have been some smell up there on those hot days.
“There’s no evidence that it occurred.”
Brent added that he “is not so lazy he’s not going to pick up two dead birds at the bottom of the steps. That did not happen, I think that was just the theory of why it was smelling.”
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