Delaware News

Villages hope to get to bottom of power outages

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Officials in Sunbury and Galena have joined forces to try to find out why power outages are a continuing problem in the villages.

A public meeting is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Sunbury Town Hall. American Electric Power representatives have been asked to discuss why the power outages are happening in Galena and the southern part of Sunbury, and what they plan to do about them.

Longtime Sunbury Mayor Len Weatherby, now a village councilman, said before council's meeting Wednesday, Oct. 3, that his house has lost power nine times since January.

"And it's not just for a short time," he said. "It's hours."

Both he and Councilman Tom Zalewski live on South Columbus Street and have had to use generators, like others in the neighborhood, when the power goes out. The outages have become more frequent in recent years, he said.

While some outages occur during storms, others have happened in calm weather, Weatherby said.

Sunbury Administrator Dave Martin said AEP officials have told the village that sometimes branches from trees not in the power company's easement fall and break lines. There is a main feeder line, south of the village, that services Galena and southern Sunbury.

Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield, also a resident of the south side, said there never have been clear-cut answers about the problem and that is why the meeting is being held. He said he's hoping for a large turnout of residents from both Sunbury and Galena.

Asphalt mix-up

Also during the Oct. 3 meeting, council members approved paying an additional $3,437 to Columbus Asphalt for extra work done on repairing streets in 2012.

Columbus Asphalt was the lowest of four informal bidders, at $22,419, to complete minor repair work on six streets this past summer.

The scaled-down 2012 street-repair program did not require formal bids because the amount was below the $25,000 bid threshold required by state law.

However, because of a miscommunication with Columbus Asphalt, the company completed some extra work on Burrer Drive and Stelzer Court, Hatfield told council members.

"This shouldn't happen, but it did," the mayor said.

Village legal counsel has reviewed the matter and determined it was an honest mistake that does not require any further action from council except approval of the additional payout to Columbus Asphalt, Hatfield said.

Regarding the 2013 village street-repair program. Village Engineer Wes Hall told council members he has modified an application to the Ohio Public Works Commission for grant money and a loan to help pay the cost of repairs.

Instead of having a street-repair program costing about $400,000 next year, including $100,000 in matching money from the village, Hall submitted a request to the commission for a $225,000 grant and a $75,000 loan. The village would kick in $75,000.

Hall told council the modified request would earn more points in the state's 12-step process for awarding grants and loans.

In 2012, Sunbury failed to receive any state money, which is why it had a scaled-down street-repair program. The deadline for applications was Friday, Oct. 5, with award notifications to be made in January.

Raises next year?

Zalewski told other council members he has been talking with some village employees who are wondering if there will be any raises next year. Full-time village employees have not received raises for three years due to the down economy.

Most workers received one-time bonuses averaging $500 a couple of years ago from more than $1 million in unexpected income-tax money the village took in as a result of a resident's lottery win. More than $780,000 remains in a special lottery fund. About $400,000 was spent paying down part of the village's bond debt.

Hatfield said he is working with other village officials on budgeting for raises in 2013.

"We're thinking about it. We're working on it. We're looking at what surrounding communities pay for similar jobs," he said.

Sunbury has about 28 full-time workers.

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