Power back on, City restrictions lift at 5 p.m. Monday

January 6, 2014 — By JESSICA WILLIAMS

People who live on Bluffton’s north side should once again have power, Mayor Ted Ellis announced after a winter storm update meeting at City Hall Monday afternoon.
Ellis said at 1:45 p.m. that most – if not all – residents on the city’s north side should have their power back after losing it Monday morning.
The north substation’s load was transferred to the city’s other two substations, he said.
The city’s power supplier, American Electric Power, had a problem that restricted the amount of power coming into the city. The rearrangement on the grid allowed affected customers to again have electric service Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the city and county are going in somewhat different directions regarding the declaration of weather emergencies. There are reasons for that, however.
Wells County Commissioners Scott Mossburg and Kevin Woodward were among those present at the third — and apparently final — meeting to make sure what needs to be done to control storm-related problems is being done.
The commissioners extended the travel restrictions until 6 p.m. Tuesday. The county is under the highest level of restriction, which only allows for emergency travel.
“We aren’t getting ahead of it,” Woodward said.
Also, the Wells County Courthouse will be closed Tuesday.
On the other hand, Ellis said he was “not convinced, not to lift” the emergency declaration in the city; as of the end of Monday afternoon’s meeting, the city weather emergency will expire at 5 p.m.
“I think we’re going to be good to go,” Ellis said.
Both the city and the county posted weather emergency declarations after several inches of snow fell Sunday. Subzero cold and high winds created problems with blowing and drifting snow, all the while providing the risk of frostbite to anyone who was outdoors for anything more than a few moments at a time.
Among other reports:
• Bluffton Fire Chief Chris Broderick said two individuals were fed this morning at the fire station, which was made the county’s first warming station Monday morning. He also said the department’s grass rig has been equipped to help medics get into the buildings where they respond.
• Rick Piepenbrink of the Wells County EMS said the county’s medic response has been “steady and lucky” as most calls have been within the city. Out on the county roads, the ambulances are “dead in the water,” he said.
• Ed Herman, Wells County Highway Department supervisor, said the county road cleaning is “slow going.” For instance, a wrecker was called after a county plow got stuck. Roads are drifting over almost as fast as they are plowed. “It’s not pretty,” Herman said.
• Sheriff Monte Fisher said the north part of the county is smoother than the south. He also said he knows of one family who needs help getting to the warming station, but responders are having trouble getting to them.
• Bluffton Fire Department personnel will work with the Water Department to fix a water main break on Parlor City Drive.
• After a brownout following the snowfall, systems are functioning at Bluffton Regional Medical Center.
• Parks Department Superintendent Pam Vanderkolk said food is lined up if needed for the warming station.
• Police Chief Tammy Schaffer said the animals at the Bluffton-Wells County Animal Shelter were fed.
• Wells County Emergency Management Agency Director Wayne Grove will contact the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The IDHS hasn’t updated its online map to reflect Wells County under a “warning” level.
Another follow-up meeting was not scheduled. Ellis thanked everyone present for their cooperation.
“Everything works better when we’re all talking to each other,” Ellis said.

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