Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

Hotel’s pool license revoked after guests found swimming in closed pool

Aug 22, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Comfort Inn and Suites’ license to operate a pool was revoked by Environmental Health and the Iowa Department of Public Health after a family staying at the hotel was seen swimming in the pool earlier this month despite a cease-and-desist order.

The hotel pool, located in Mt. Pleasant, has been closed since an inspection in March that found chlorine levels to be above acceptable levels.

Bruce Hudson, executive director at Regional Utility Service Systems, has been routinely driving by the hotel to check on their progress. Stopping by for a surprise visit one evening around Aug. 2, Hudson found hotel guests swimming in the pool.

With the assistance of police officers, Hudson was able to get “pool closed” signs back up.

Hudson notified Public Health that the family may have gotten sick from the water, which contained no chemicals, had a green tint and was possibly growing bacteria, Hudson said.

The family has not come forward to seek Public Health services. They did switch hotels after finding out the hotel was in violation of the cease-and-desist order.

“At this point, (the hotel) is just a risk,” Hudson said during a Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21. “Generally, when you tell someone you’re revoking their licensure, they abide by it.”

Hudson said the day he stopped by for a surprise visit, there were employees running the hotel who had no idea the pool had ever been closed.

Witness statements are on file with the Henry County Attorney’s Office showing the hotel was in violation of the cease-and-desist order.

A pool in Winfield, which was given 30 days to respond last month after receiving poor inspection results, is under construction, Hudson said. The city is also building a new pool that will tentatively open Labor Day 2019. Hudson said Environmental Health will be a part of the inspection process to get that opened when the time comes.

This past month, Environmental Health issued two permits for wastewater treatment systems, three site evaluations and six final inspections. Hudson said they continue to run across permits filed without wastewater treatment systems ever being installed or filed documents that have not been paid for as they electronically file their documents.

The department also did two water tests, one of which tested positive for nitrates. Hudson questioned ways Public Health and Environmental Health could promote routine well testing, a request that has to be made by property owners. Environmental Health is able to test wells through the grants to county program for nitrate, nitrite and arsenic.

While Hudson said he sees wells with nitrate and nitrite all the time, he has yet to see any come back positive for arsenic.

Hudson also suggested residents get their well closed if they are not using it, saying there are funds available through Environmental Health to assist in that.

In an effort to further promote these services, Hudson asked the Public Health board’s permission to begin an Environmental Health Facebook page. There is $1,000 of promotional funds available through grants to counties that could possibly draw awareness to the page.

The Facebook page would be for informational purposes only. Hudson said he receives information for things such as SepticSmart week that he has no way to distribute to the public at this time. A Facebook page could be a good avenue to draw attention to special events like that.

Kelly Carr, Director of Healthy Henry County Communities, warned that Facebook takes a lot of time to maintain. In her experience running the HHCC Facebook page, Carr said interaction is key to garnering more attention, and neglecting to post daily means fewer views.

“If you’re wanting to get information out, it might be better to do it on a website,” Carr said.

The Board of Health will vote on the matter during their regular meeting next month.

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