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Fairground blows a fuse, literally

Joshua Sebold
Staff Writer
1/19/2011

Fair Manager John Steffanic recently told the Plumas County Board of Supervisors (BOS) the majority of the fairgrounds is currently without power or heat because of an electrical problem that could cost between $50,000 and $150,000 to fix.

“Monday morning we came in and we had full power in the administration building, half power in most of the other buildings,” Steffanic told the board during the public comment section of a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 11.

The fair manager said PG&E’s equipment extended to a pole in the parking lot, while most of the electrical infrastructure inside the fairgrounds was county-owned.

He explained there were high-voltage lines underground with an expected lifetime of 25 years, but on most of them “we’re pushing 50.”

Steffanic reported that “something blew” in a vault under Old Town.

“We opened it up; it was scorched. A fire occurred inside there, fused wires together, and blew a 40-amp breaker.

“Those are those big, heavy-duty things; it probably sounded like a shotgun when it went off.”

The manager said high-voltage lines and equipment were very expensive and an electrician required a special certification to work on them. He told the board there was around 500 feet of wire that had to be replaced.

Steffanic said power was restored to the Head Start building but the rest of the complex was down.

He added that maintenance staff was draining water from various areas to avoid freezing if the weather changed.

Steffanic concluded his report by telling the supervisors he would be investigating funding options for the repairs, but wasn’t extremely hopeful given the state’s economic situation.

 

Update

In a telephone conversation Friday, Jan. 14, Steffanic reported he located a vendor in Reno that would be submitting an estimate for “probably less than $50,000” later in the day.

Steffanic estimated the repair would take about five days once he received approval from the supervisors to proceed. He hoped to be on the agenda for the Tuesday, Jan. 18, board meeting for emergency approval.

The fair administration and Head Start buildings have power but the rest of the fairgrounds is still shut down. Serpilio Hall can be powered by generator if necessary.

Although community group meetings held at the fairgrounds would have to change the location of or postpone their meetings, no revenue-generating events were facing cancellation.

Chief Administrative Officer Jack Ingstad was out of town at press time and unavailable for comment.

 

Additional reporting by Staff Writer Mo

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