• New building has lost power twice already
BROOKINGS – Brookings County’s representatives on the Joint Powers Board will re-start discussion on buying a backup generator for the new Brookings City & County Government Center, the county commission decided Tuesday.
Commissioners discussed the issue after noticing that several chamber microphones were cutting in and out during their Tuesday meeting.
County staff told them the building “had a significant power outage” last Saturday that changed settings on the microphones and some other technology in the room. Staff stayed late Monday night to make sure everything was working properly, but found they had more work to do Tuesday.
Commission Assistant Stephanie Ellwein said the building lost power late Saturday night, and one staff member was called by the building’s alarm company because an alarm was sounding.
“Because we had lost power for more than an hour, obviously the pumps in the basement did not have power, so they did have some water problems,” Ellwein added.
While the pumps were without power, water came up into the sump, but the basement did not flood, Ellwein said Wednesday.
She added that staff is working to tie the sump pumps to the monitoring system, so staff would be notified if there was ever a problem with the water there.
The majority of technology in the new government center, such as telephones, door locks and the server, is connected to a universal power source so that it doesn’t suffer when the power goes out.
This was the second power outage in the new Brookings government center since staff began moving in this June; the first incident occurred before the building was dedicated June 27.
Commissioner Alan Gregg said he thinks the city and county should work toward purchasing a backup generator for the building.
“Probably the sooner the better,” Gregg said. “Maybe some of these leftover funds or something to go towards it or whatever.
“There isn’t hardly a month goes by that our alarm clock, we get up in the morning and it’s doing this number, that we’ve lost power. And if it’s going to be this kind of a problem every time that we lose power, I think we ought to start working to get a generator in there sometime next year, on next year’s budget.”
Commissioners agreed they had wanted a backup generator from the beginning, but said the city council had not.
Commission Chair Deanna Santema said she thinks the two outages and the ensuing problems prove there is a high need for backup.
The commission agreed that Gregg and Dennis Falken, its representatives to the Joint Powers Board, should re-start discussion with that board.
Though the JPB decided not to install a backup generator, it did agree to pay $6,000 to extend the building’s electrical service so that it could support a generator in the future.
According to JPB minutes from a May 12, 2011, meeting, City Manager Jeff Weldon said the JPB had decided early in building discussion that it would not install a backup generator, but have temporary generators that could be used in an emergency.
Weldon said Thursday that a backup generator for this size of building would cost about $225,000-$250,000.
If it was to be inside the building, the generator needed to be included very early on, Weldon added. If one is purchased now, it will need to sit outside.
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