Power outage causes struggle for Marion folks

Learning a new way of living and working has been difficult on all of us, but especially for Marion residents who dealt with loss of power for three days last week. Thankfully, city officials were able to keep residents updated and work with contractors to get a solution as quickly as possible.

It started on Wednesday with a power outage in the afternoon.

Roger Holter, Marion City Administrator, spoke to the Marion business community on Thursday and gave some explanation of the power outage.

“I want to apologize for the power outage of yesterday in the afternoon. We understand how disruptive and impactful an outage can be to your business, particularly when the current macro-environment is so challenging. I’m sorry,” said Holter.

He went on to explain that the contractor was not at fault.

“The underground electrical supply line that was struck during demolition and excavation at the site did not follow the path as originally thought or documented. Efforts to locate prior to digging are not always completely accurate, regardless of efforts,” said Holter. “I thank God, we are able to report that no one was injured in the incident.”

While an emergency repair was completed Wednesday evening and power restored, there continued to be issues on Thursday.

“For today, design is being completed to ensure the new route will be outside of the construction area. Supplies to reroute the electrical service have been ordered with an emergency rush on them. City Crews will be re-routing the electrical service. This will require the installation of a new underground conduit and vault system through excavation to the north of the transfer station,” said Holter. “The route will most likely be through the exit drive of the existing tipping floor. Transfer Station operation may need to be altered during the trenching process.”

He explained that when the new path was constructed and the new wiring circuits installed, the city would need to disrupt the power once again for a period of time as the final connections are made. He stated that the city would make every effort to notify everyone of the approximate time of the outage and anticipated length of outage. He also explained that the repair and reroute was necessary for the safety of all workers in the area of the construction site.

However, on Friday, the crew ran into some major issues.

“With some unforeseen underground foundations and concrete structure, the City Crews were unable to restore power as scheduled. There were delays therefore in the installation of the new underground infrastructure. The new target of 11 a.m. seems to be progressing so that it can be met,” said Randy Collett, Marion’s Director of Economic Development, who updated the public since Holter was out with the crew. “The City certainly apologizes for the situation and all the inconveniences caused.”

The power was back up shortly after 11 a.m. on Friday.

Holter explained that the crew was digging to put in a conduit and ran into an old, thick, concrete foundation that had been under the old transfer station back in the 1800s. It didn’t exist on any plans so they had no way to know that it was there. This caused everything to take longer than expected.

Thankfully, Holter and the other officials were able to keep the town updated through social media and an alert system called Code Red which is a system that can call or text those who are signed up.

“The biggest advantage for us with Code Red that we like is we can limit it geographically so we can just notify those who are impacted. In this case, about 40 percent of residents were without power, mainly the business district, so we could let them know instead of bothering everyone,” said Holter.

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