Bethel IGA seeks restitution for power outage

October 10th, 2010    Author: Brett A. Roller    Filed Under: News

The Bethel IGA is seeking restitution for damages caused by a recent power outage they allege was prolonged by a Bethel public utilities worker.

The outage occurred on the night of Sept. 19 when a transformer feeding the store malfunctioned.

IGA co-owner Charlie Collins told Bethel Village Council Monday, Sept. 27 that the Bethel utility department was notified immediately when the power went out and a utility worker responded to the scene.

According to surveillance footage the worker arrived and evaluated the situation for three minutes before informing the store manager that the power loss was due to a malfunction inside the building.

Collins said Tim Rutherford, a local electrician, was called in to fix the problem in the store. After about three hours of careful evaluation Rutherford determined the problem was not inside the store. A call was placed to the Bethel utilities and two different workers returned to the store and quickly determined the issue was with a blown transformer and restored power.

Collins is alleging that the first Bethel employee on the scene did not perform an evaluation of the transformer before determining the problem was in the store.

"My issue is that we went with out power for several hours, we had to pull product and put it under other storage, lost product, had to pay an electrician to come, and had to pay people overtime to handle the problem when none of it was the store's fault," Collins said. "On the front end it wasn't diagnosed correctly."

IGA is seeking between $1,700 and $1,800 in damages.

Collins had approached Bethel village administrator Travis Dotson with the issue before and Dotson had discussed it with village solicitor George Leicht.

After discussing the issue for about 10 minutes in the council meeting Collins pointed out that he did not believe the employee had performed the proper tests based on the short amount of time he spent on the property.

"This does concern me because in the discussions I had with Travis, Travis and I made the assumption that the test was properly made initially and that with that test being made it was reasonable to assume that the equipment was not at fault," Leicht said. "This is a new wrinkle, let's take a look at it and let's talk to the employee."

Bethel public works committee chair Tim Cherry said he would like to either meet with the employee at the next public works committee meeting or have Dotson bring paper work documenting the employee's actions on site.

"I would like to know if there was a log entry of what was done because in my business if it's not written down it never happened," Cherry said. "If (the village worker) can produce that fine, if not then yeah, (Collins) raises a valid point."

Mayor James Dick said Dotson would revisit the issue and it would be discussed at the Oct. 18 public works committee meeting.
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