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County may have a generator for gov’t center

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 2nd, 2012

• Highway Dept. bought one about 10 years ago

BROOKINGS – Brookings County thinks it may have found a back-up generator to serve the Brookings City & County Government Center. If it’s right for the building, the generator would come at the right price – the county already owns it.

Commission Assistant Stephanie Ellwein told commissioners last week that, during a Sept. 13 meeting, the Joint Powers Board (JPB) decided to not pursue a generator for the entire government building. Commissioners said this July they wanted such a generator because the building has lost power several times and during a power outage the basement sump pumps stop running, among other hassles.

But, such a generator was estimated to cost $250,000. So the JPB asked staff to look into using a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) to run just the pumps.

“Based on how much power would be needed to run those sump pumps, they’ve determined that a UPS would not be capable of doing that,” Ellwein reported Tuesday.

“Instead, what the JPB left it at is that we don’t think it’s necessary to run the entire building but what they wanted to look at was kind of two different levels – an entry level that would just run those sump pumps and then a mid level that would maybe do the sump pumps and other mechanical systems that we deem to be a priority, or necessary to keep going in the event of losing power for continuous days.”

She said Jeff Weldon, city manager, is meeting with vendors and will report back to the JPB. That’s when Dennis Clark, Brookings County Highway Superintendent, asked if they were considering the generator owned by his department. Commissioners responded with curiosity to the question.

As it turns out, the Sheriff’s Department rented this portable generator 10-plus years ago, after losing its former generator. Sheriff Marty Stanwick said the unit cost about $1,400 per month to rent.

“It ran the entire sheriff’s office, where my old generator just ran certain outlets throughout the building,” Stanwick said.

When the county purchased a larger generator in 2002 or 2003 to cover the sheriff’s department and the courthouse, it no longer needed this generator. The highway department bought it then, at a good price because the county had already sunk so much money into its rent fee. It has since been sitting at the Highway Department site.

Clark said he would have his staff submit the generator’s specifications to Ellwein, so she could share them with Weldon and the JPB. Commissioners said that this may just solve the generator problem.

“Thank you very much for bringing that up,” Commission Chair Deanna Santema said to Clark. “That was one that slipped through the cracks before, I think.”

Contact Charis Prunty at cprunty-@brookingsregister.com.

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