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Monroe officials address falling asbestos in Civic Center’s Jack Howard Theatre



MONROE, La. – The Monroe Civic Center is taking steps to fight asbestos in the Jack Howard Theatre. On Tuesday, officials requested the Monroe city council take the first step in allowing them to advertise the project bid package for companies.

Civic Center director George Cannon says they first noticed fireproofing and soundproofing materials containing asbestos falling onto the stage about a year ago.

“Just about every old building in America is full of asbestos. Asbestos is there until it becomes a problem. Then, you do something about it,” Cannon says.

“We began to see more of it fall particularly when you had large events on stage where there was a lot of movement. That was about a year ago, it began to fall more. So that’s when we began to call in consultants to look at what it was going to take to fix it.”

Along with the Department of Environmental Quality, Cannon says they also hired a company to do a deep cleaning of the theatre last fall.

Events are still being held in the theatre. Cannon says air quality tests are run before and after each event. So far, he says they’ve been clean.

“It’s falling, but it’s still falling in clumps which means it’s still very well encapsulated when it falls. So therefore, it’s not entering the air, and that’s when it really becomes a problem. Apparently, that’s not happened yet.”

Even though he says it’s not an issue yet, Cannon says they’re working ahead to come up with the long-term solution. “We think we have to go ahead and take care of it anyway, because it’s continuing to be a problem. Plus, it costs money to monitor after every event as well.”

Cannon says they will present the bid package to companies in the next few weeks. He expects the project to take about three months to complete.