Bedbugs a problem at OKC building that houses important state agencies

NEWS4 | by Chase Horn | November 21, 2019


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – For the past two months, the Oliver Hodge building, which houses the Oklahoma Department of Education, Office of Management and Enterprise Services, Oklahoma Teacher Retirement and the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, has been fighting off bedbugs.

An email detailing the situation to employees was shared with News 4.

The email was sent on September 25, letting employees know they were planning a broad-spectrum pest spray treatment for the entire building.

“You`re going to first go in and inspect and determine what kind of pest do I have here,” ABC Home & Commercial Operations Manager Clayton Schiegg told News 4. “Broad-spectrum will kill anything, be it bedbugs, roaches, ants.”

Two weeks later another email was sent to employees confirming that there were bed bugs in the building. Fighting bedbugs are routine for exterminators, but fighting them in a building that large is never easy.

“It’s difficult because you don`t know where they are coming from at that point,” Schiegg said. “Anyone visiting the building could be bringing re-infesting the building.”

Another concern when dealing with a building like the Oliver Hodge building, is the amount of people that come in and out of there on a daily basis.

“They are definitely hitchhikers. So they come in on a person’s beanie, a purse – just like I stated – backpacks,” Schiegg said. “You name it, they can hitchhike on those items.”

The Department did not want to go on camera, but did send News 4 this statement.

The State Department of Education has taken all appropriate precautions to address this situation. The Hodge building has been treated for pests multiple times in recent weeks, and an area of the building will be resprayed on Friday.

We have had visual confirmation of five bugs over the past several weeks, and recently two individuals have reported bites that may or may not be consistent with bedbugs. There is no evidence of an actual infestation.

We have been in constant contact with our landlord, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Facilities Management Division, which is in charge of pest control management and other building management issues.

Class-action lawsuit claims Las Cruces apartment complex rodent-, bug-infested

A class-action lawsuit against an allegedly rodent- and bug-ridden apartment complex in Las Cruces is about to get bigger.

A judge ruled Friday that Desert Palms Apartments must release the names of all tenants from September 2012 to September 2018.

Current and former tenants told KFOX14 their apartments were infested with mice and bugs.

One woman said she complained to management and was told it was all in her head.

As Baudisch was driving away, she said the landlord started recording her on her phone. Baudisch said she rolled down the window and told her she wanted to ask about the lawsuit. Baudisch says the woman replied, “I know” and kept recording.

One tenant said the conditions at her apartment caused her to get sick.

“Really bad stomachaches, a lot of vomiting. The doctor kept saying, ‘Let’s try different things,’ and different things, well, nothing ever evidently was working, because I didn’t even fathom that mice could live in your stove,” said Erica Olivas.

Olivas said her mystery illness was caused by cooking on a stove full of mice feces.

A rodent allegedly trapped at Desert Palms Apartments in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“I talked to a lady last week who has bedbugs and the manager said why doesn’t she scoop a bedbug up and show it to her,” Olivas said.

Below are images of a seventh grade boy who allegedly has bedbug bites all over his body from Desert Palms Apartments:

Photos of a seventh grader allegedly covered in bedbug bites from Desert Palms Apartments in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“We are overrun with rodents, roaches. We had smoke detector systems, we thought batteries were low, but when they took the smoke detector down, it was so full of roaches and roach feces that they cleaned it out and put it back up, and it was fine,” said Donald Boyce.

Boyce, a veteran, said he believes some people don’t complain because they are afraid of getting evicted and being homeless.

“They use such intimidating tactics. ‘Well, you know you’re disabled, but you’re only paying so much rent.’ They would, more or less, make you feel low,” Boyce said.

“A lot of people living there, it’s the first place they’re living from either living in a car or (being) through hard times,” Olivas said.

Victor Ortiz said he sleeps on an air mattress because of the bedbugs.

“I threw away an old desk, my bed I had for a couple years and a lot of my clothing,” Ortiz said.

Insects allegedly trapped at Desert Palms Apartments in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Olivas, Boyce and Ortiz are just three of 59 members of the class-action lawsuit.

With the judge’s ruling, the class-action lawsuit could be getting larger as former tenants add their claims.

Many tenants at the apartment complex have low incomes or are seniors, disabled or veterans who may qualify for Section 8 housing funds.

The Las Cruces Housing Authority, the Mesilla Valley Public Housing Authority and the company hired by the city to carry out inspections will not comment because of the ongoing litigation.

JL Gray Company, which owns Desert Palms Apartments, has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The lead plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit are asking anyone who has had problems at Desert Palms Apartments to contact them if they would like to get involved.