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Town worker injured while
repairing power lines

Chris Patterson
The Gazette

One Thurmont staff member was injured Monday while working to repair power lines in the town square following a power outage Saturday.

The employee is recovering, the board said, and should not be out of work long.

The accident caused the town to shut down power briefly again on Monday to tend to the injured man.

Town Commissioner Wayne Hooper said the outage began at about noon and encompassed the entire town, as well as portions of Creagerstown, Lewistown and Emmitsburg.

Hooper, the board's liaison to the electric utility, said the town found out quickly that the problem originated with Allegheny Power. Town staff members were out investigating the problem by 12:10 p.m., he said.

By about 3:30 p.m., power was restored to the substation and town staff began getting power to the rest of the town.

By just after 9 p.m., the power was restored to everyone, Hooper reported.

Hooper said the job was complicated because the power demand was too great and it caused fuses to blow.

He asked residents to use "common sense" during power outages -- turn off electrical items, such as heating units and other large users of power. By turning off those items in everyone's house it will make it easier to get power back on, he said.

Town clerk Rick May said the town was told the outage originated at Allegheny's Moser Road substation where a piece of equipment blew up.

Allegheny Power provides power to Thurmont Electric, which in turn supplies it to the residents.

Allegheny Power's Manager of Corporate Communications Fred Solomon said he was not sure where the equipment failure occurred but he knew it affected two different circuits in the area.

About 1,100 customers on the Catoctin Furnace circuit and about 800 customers on the Eyler Valley circuit were affected, he said.

He said the power was out for those customers for up to two hours and 45 minutes.

Solomon said it is a problem getting power back on when the weather is so cold. Unless it comes back on at a controlled rate, fuses will blow down the line.

"And that is almost certainly what happened. That is just a fact of electric delivery," Solomon said.

The town's board hopes to develop a plan for future outages that will improve communication to residents about the problem and help residents who are particularly vulnerable, such as the elderly and children.

They did not set a timetable for doing so.

Commissioner Ron Terpko credited Electric Utility Superintendent Joe Fraley's wife for fielding dozens of calls during the outage. Fraley's home number is listed as the emergency number for power problems, so residents called his house all day. Since he was out working on the problem, his wife took some abuse from irate residents.

"We're starting to find out that with a town of almost 6,000 people, it isn't a good idea to have an emergency phone number as someone's home number," Terpko said.

Hooper and Terpko also credited Guardian Hose Company for offering to temporarily house those who could not handle the cold weather without heat.

Auditors: Town finances look good

The Town of Thurmont got a pat on the back Tuesday during a year-end report on 2004 finances.

Raising the water and sewer rates early in the year was credited for the good report, said Barbara K. Walker, manager of auditing and consulting with the accounting firm of McLean, Koehler, Sparks and Hammond in Frederick.

Walker gave a 30-slide presentation of the town's 2004 finances and noted the water and sewer companies had lost money since 2000.

In Thurmont, the water, sewer and electric companies are called enterprise funds because they are meant to make enough money to cover their expenses. While the electric company has historically done so, the other two have not.

In previous years the town had to divert money from the general fund to subsidize the losses in the water and sewer companies.

In 2004, the rates were finally raised, she said, turning the problem around.

The water and sewer rates were dramatically increased in February, a move that caught some residents off guard when they received their bills for that quarter.

Police Commission makes recommendations

Police Commission Chair Tom Iaccarino and member Paul Nolan presented the results of the commission's findings on the needs of the town's police department and its recommendations for where to locate a new department at the town's public meeting Tuesday.

The commission recommended a portion of East End Park as the ideal location. It met all of the commission's criteria and would place the department close to the center of town, they said.

Pictures presented by Iaccarino and Nolan depicted a department woefully lacking in space for storage and daily operations, as well as facing serious state non-compliance issues with regard to providing separate facilities for men and women who are being held in custody.

Board members will continue to evaluate the possible site options, as well as financing options, they said.

New members named to town commissions

Three residents were named to town boards Tuesday.

Resident Jeri O'Neill was named to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Police Commissioner Robert Lookingbill was named to the Board of Appeals and Michael Cahak was named to the Charter and Code Review Committee.

Positions are still available on the Police and Parks commissions, and volunteers who live outside town limits are sometimes accepted.

Volunteers interested in serving on a town committee should forward a letter of interest to the mayor and Board of Commissioners at the town hall, 10 Frederick Road, Thurmont.

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