UPDATE: Value Motel more than inspectors bargained for

Operator given 30 days to clean up or face fines

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

Published:

 

Grimy, oily and unsanitary bedspreads. Mattresses and bedsheets stained with urine, feces and blood. Damaged walls discolored by grimy smears, food splash and “other organic debris.”

Accumulations of rat or mice feces indicating an established infestation of large rodents. Stairwells littered with trash, food debris and used hypodermic needles.

Officials with the Washington State Department of Health had plenty of deficiencies to record in their 17-page report on the condition of the Value Motel at 708 N.E. 78th St. The state department, which monitors hotels and motels, conducted a safety survey of the Hazel Dell motel after receiving two complaints.

The first was an anonymous complaint filed on Feb. 3. The second complaint was filed Feb. 9 by Clark County Environmental Public Health. Attached to the county complaint was a copy of the Feb. 3 Vancouver Voice article in which reporter Marcus Griffith detailed his overnight stay in the hotel.

Following the publication of the article, Clark County Sheriff Garry -Lucas and the Clark County commissioners created a community task force to take a closer look at the motel.

State health officials — joined by representatives from the local health department, fire -department, building code enforcement office and police department — conducted the safety survey of the motel on March 30.

The survey included the inspection of the main laundry room, pool, hot tub, electrical panels, common areas, stairwells, hallways, water heaters, the exterior of the building and 23 unoccupied rooms.

The inspection revealed dozens of deficiencies. The state has given Value Motel ownership until May 25 to correct the identified deficiencies or face sanctions, including civil fines or revocation of the operating license.

To order an immediate closure of the hotel, the Department of Health would have needed to determine there is a risk of immediate harm or danger to motel guests and the deficiencies could not be corrected in a short period of time, said Sharon Moysiuk, a spokeswoman for the health department.

Milton O. Brown, owner of the property, did not respond to The Columbian’s request for comment.

Sheriff’s office Cmdr. Keith Kilian, who is leading the community task force, participated in the Value Motel inspection. He said the findings were not surprising.

“It wouldn’t be a place I would be staying the night with my family,” he said. “It’s pretty substandard.”

Most of the findings — Kilian estimated about 90 percent — were in the motel’s low-budget building. That building advertises rooms for $21 and $23.

In addition to the unsanitary rooms and stained linens, officials found other deficiencies during the inspection.

Several electrical disconnect switches had been altered and would prevent the safety switches from being turned off during an emergency, such as a fire or earthquake, according to the report.

A section of the railing was missing on a stairwell. The gap was large enough to “easily allow a small child to fall onto a concrete slab below,” according to the report.

The hot air vents on the back of fuel-burning commercial gas dryers in the laundry room were not completely sealed, which was allowing carbon monoxide to enter the room. In addition, graffiti was found throughout the building, paint was missing from walls, and shower stalls had cracks that allowed mold to grow, according to the report.

The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office completed its own inspection April 5. Fire marshals found deficiencies with exit signage, smoke detectors and light switch covers, Kilian said. In addition, the fire alarm panel’s warning light was on, he said.

Fire marshals will return for a follow-up inspection in the coming weeks.

Clark County Public Health also got involved.

Local health officials found a spa in one of the rooms had a water temperature of 170 degrees; the maximum allowed is 120 degrees, said Gary Bickett, program manager for public health.

(The state report found the water temperature in all guest rooms was at 170 degrees.)

In addition, chlorine levels were too high and pH levels were too low in the spa, Bickett said.

The violations triggered a closure of the spa. The motel took corrective action and the spa has since been reopened, Bickett said.

The various inspections and reports shed light onto the type of business being run in the community, Kilian said.

“It would suggest that it is not well maintained and may tend to draw a certain aspect of our society,” he said.

Kilian said he hopes the motel owner will work with the task force to make the Value Motel a “respectable business in the community.”

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or marissa.harshman@columbian.com.

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