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Fire Disables Byrd Center Electric Service

By Staff | Oct 15, 2008

A grease fire in the kitchen of the Byrd Center in Pine Grove has resulted in the closure of the building for an indefinite amount of time.

Mayor Dave Barr said on Oct. 9 there was a small grease fire in the kitchen of the community center, located on the top floor. The blaze activated the Ansul sprinkler system which emits a liquid. That solution flowed down to the first floor and all over the electrical box, causing a small electrical fire that rendered the building’s electrical service inoperable. He said the building did not sustain any other damages.

Dana Indermuhle of Swiss Valley Associates, Inc., in Sardis came to look assess the situation. “He doesn’t feel the breaker box is bad,” Councilman Roy Justice told the governing body at their meeting Monday evening.

Indermuhle, a certified engineer and electrician, said he thinks the box can be cleaned and made usable again. He can do that and fix the electrical service for about $3,000. In addition, an outside metering box needs to be replaced. For that job Indermuhle wants to bill for time and material, as he is unsure just how involved that will be.

Since the building is without electric service for now-a situation Justice said could last anywhere from three days to five weeks-a request from the local Girl Scout Daisy Troop to use the building for a haunted house was put on hold.

Council told representative Kim Floyd that their insurance would not permit anyone in the building until the electric service was restored. She asked if the group had electric generators, battery-powered lights, battery-powered smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and exit door lights if they could then use the building. Also, they will limit the number of people allowed inside the building at one time.

Justice said he would check with the insurance company and get an opinion. In the meantime, the Daisy leaders will work with Recorder Kimmy Bates to see if the event is possible. Council was of the opinion that if it was allowable by the insurance company, the use was approved by them.

In another holiday matter, council set the town’s trick or treat time for Oct. 30 from 6-8 p.m.

Also, council unanimously approved an expenditure of up to $1,200 to Miller Communications to fix the telemetry system on Simpson Hill. This is the third time in the last four years that the system had to be repaired or replaced.

“There’s no way to protect it whatsoever,” said Justice. Lightning could hit it the next day and the city would need to spend $1,200 to repair it again.

“The thing is a metal tank on the side of the hill,” explained Barr. “It’s pretty hard to protect it.”

The city’s insurance will cover a very small part of the repair as the deductible is $1,000. However, Bates pointed out that previously the deductible was $3,500.

Also under water matters, council decided that a vacant water meter reading job will not be filled and current city employees will take over the duty, particularly now as winter is coming and the usual summer tasks will be ending, lightening their job load.

Councilman Bob Adams said he wanted to be sure that the next employee who accepts the meter reading duties understands that if they are caught estimating a water bill without cause they will be terminated that moment. “It’s just that simple,” said Adams. “I’m tired of it.”

Councilman John Johnston said the simple fact is that if a bill is estimated below the minimum usage for two to three months and then an actual reading gives a high usage, the customer is paying too much in the long run.

“You’re allowed to estimate the usage one time a year,” noted Barr.

Bates noted that some citizens have asked for another clean-up day. When reviewing the books, the town took in $160 from the last event held in August. When considering the wages, fuel, vehicle depreciation, and dumping fee, the city was losing money from the service.

Justice said he thinks offering the service two times a year, as has already been done in 2008, is enough. Residents were encouraged to properly dispose of the items themselves and were reminded a free dumping day is held the last Friday of every month from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the landfill on Cider Run. It is limited to one pick-up truck load per person.

In preparation for winter, the city has acquired a snow plow that they are currently cleaning and painting. They will then get an estimate for attaching it to the city’s one-ton truck.

“We have a problem with a hopper,” noted Justice of the device needed to spread salt and cinders on the town’s icy streets this winter.

He can’t find a used one and a new one costs $3,300 plus shipping. Councilman Dave Williams said he might be able to acquire a used spreader. He will find out by the end of this week.

Within two weeks the city will either buy a used spreader or order a new one, as directed by a unanimous vote of council. They said the item must be acquired as winter is coming soon and it will take about a month for a new one to arrive after an order is placed.

Council noted that the Wetzel County Office of Emergency Services, as part of the Wetzel County Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee, will hold a public meeting at 1 p.m. on Oct. 23. It will be at the Byrd Center, provided the electric is back in service by then.

The purpose of the meeting is to review updates to the county’s hazard mitigation plan. Members of the public will be given the opportunity to comment on the natural and man-made hazards affecting them most.

On Adam’s motion, the meeting ended with a short executive session to discuss a personnel matter. No action was taken after the closed door meeting.