AUGUSTA — Discovery of the presence of bedbugs in the Buker Community Center has forced the Augusta Boys and Girls Club for Teens out of its basement home there until the bugs can be killed.

Tuesday morning a bedbug detecting dog indicated bedbugs were present in the basement of the city-owned building where the club is located. The dog checked the entire building, where the main upper floor is occupied by multiple tenants, including offices of the city’s child care program and the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, and found no signs of bedbugs other than in two spots in the basement.

The Boys and Girls Club director said Wednesday that programs will be offered as usual, “just in a different location.”

It is the second city-owned building where bedbugs have been detected this year. Officials think they finally have rid the other building, Augusta City Center, of the persistent pests. A bedbug detecting dog searched the city center last month and did not detect any signs that bedbugs were still in the building.

However that same dog, Jordanna, and her handler, Kendra Laliberte, of Readfield-based Merrills Detector Dog Services, indicated Tuesday there are now bedbugs at the Buker site.

Leif Dahlin, community services director, said no actual bedbugs were discovered at the former school building, but the dog clearly indicated their presence there, including in a spot between the concrete floor and a wooden floor built on top of it.

That portion of the building has been closed and sealed off, and the city plans to have a pesticide company treat it for bedbugs. Once treated, the area will remain off-limits to people for two weeks, after which it again will be checked by the bedbug detecting dog to see if any bugs are still there. If there aren’t any, the space likely will undergo some renovation. The floor under which the bugs are thought to be located might need to be removed before club members reoccupy it, Dahlin said.

Dahlin said a representative from a pesticide company checked the building Wednesday but did not treat it for bedbugs. He said the company would evaluate how best to treat the building before taking action.

Dahlin said there are no indications of a widespread infestation of bedbugs in the building.

“We’re nipping these in the bud before they get established,” he said.

In the meantime, the club remains open, now on the upper floor of the Buker Community Center. While neither the staff nor club members will have access to the club’s usual spot downstairs, Charles Huerth, the club’s new program director, said club programming will continue as usual, both in the new temporary upstairs location and outside.

“Club members shouldn’t see any difference in programming,” Huerth said. “It should be business as normal, just in a different location. There are some inconveniences — all my files are downstairs, and we won’t be able to use the new kitchen; but, honestly, they’ll still have programming and members won’t see a lot of difference, minus the space.”

Huerth said the club has been getting 15 to 20 students per day participating in club activities since moving upstairs. He started on the job about a month ago and said he has seen no signs of bedbugs in the club.

He said he hopes people realize bedbugs can come from anywhere, and the bugs detected at the club probably didn’t come from members. He doesn’t want members to be stigmatized or the isolated incident to be blown out of proportion.

Dahlin said the city would work with the club to ensure interruptions to club activities are minimal.

The detection dog was brought in Tuesday after city officials were alerted to the potential presence of bedbugs by Jan Rollins, an assistant principal at Cony High School.

Rollins said she heard from a school employee who also works at the club that he thought he had taken bedbugs to his home from the Boys and Girls Club. Rollins alerted city officials there might be bedbugs at the Buker site so the problem could be addressed to prevent users of the building from getting bedbugs on them and taking them home or elsewhere.

Rollins said no bedbugs have been reported at Cony.

Bedbugs were discovered in mid-July in the first-floor General Assistance offices at Augusta City Center, forcing officials to relocate those services to the building’s upper floor, where they remain.

A pesticide applicator treated the office suite where the bugs were found, but later Jordanna the dog again found bedbugs in the office suite, that time in the adjoining Community Services space.

Dahlin said Wednesday that Augusta City Center, including the areas where bedbugs were found, was inspected by the dog again in mid-August and it was determined no bedbugs remained in the building.

Dahlin said that part of the building will be remodeled before city workers in those departments move back downstairs. He said carpets will be replaced with tile flooring, and any furniture that might provide a hiding spot for bedbugs will be replaced. The work is expected to be complete, and those offices reoccupied, around the week of Sept. 26.

Dahlin said the city no longer will accept donations of clothing, to be passed on to people in need, or other items that might harbor bedbugs.

Dahlin said City Manager William Bridgeo and the City Council have been supportive and proactive in trying to rid city property of bedbugs before they spread or become an infestation.

In May a bedbug infestation was reported in two privately owned Water Street boarding houses. In response, city councilors approved an emergency bedbug ordinance out of concern that neither existing city nor state rules gave the city the ability to require building owners to address the problem.

This Saturday’s 5-kilometer fun run, a fundraiser for the Augusta Boys and Girls Club for Teens, is still on. Huerth said potential participants shouldn’t be concerned about bedbugs. He said any items that will be used for the race have been stored at an off-site location.

The event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at Capitol Park in Augusta. Participants may register the day of the race, with bib pickup starting at 8:30 a.m. Proceeds from entry fees will go to the club, which provides year-round programming for area teenagers. Runners are encouraged to dress as their favorite superheroes, prizes will be awarded for best costume, and each participant will receive a cape.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.