- Associated Press - Friday, July 7, 2017

American News, Aberdeen, July 5

Power goes out, and complaints light up

A couple of recent power outages have some wondering if there are problems with the local electricity infrastructure.

There isn’t really, it’s just that it’s aging.

To that end, NorthWestern Energy is in the midst of $20 million worth of upgrades to its system in Aberdeen. Sometimes the old equipment - 70 years old - doesn’t work so well with the new equipment, and NorthWestern officials have said that’s the reason for two recent outages over much of the city.

The first outage was shortly after 10 p.m. June 17. It was significant in that it lasted about an hour, affected some 3,000 customers and extinguished traffic and street lights when it was pitch black. So there were some issues, though we haven’t heard of any major problems.

A week later, there was a late morning power outage that lasted about 10 minutes and affected about 4,500 customers.

Cue the complaining, especially on social media.

Some people even called NorthWestern immediately to ask what happened and/or express their displeasure.

Maybe that’s because they didn’t know that the story about the ongoing work and occasional resulting hiccups. And maybe it’s because there were two outages in a week, which is uncommon. But some of the responses approached or surpassed silly.

Sometimes the power goes out. It can happen when there’s bad weather. It can happen when a critter of some sort gets into a substation. It can happen when there’s a glitch in the system.

When it does, nobody’s immediate response should be to pick up the phone and call the utility. NorthWestern already knows there is a problem.

Maybe, if an hour or more passes - or if there’s some sort of emergency or it’s bitterly cold out - it merits a call to the power company, though dialing 911 would certainly be smarter in a true crisis. But if those criteria aren’t met, your next step is simple. Wait. Bide your time. Grab a book and, if needed, a candle. Sorry about the soufflé in the oven, but there have been bigger tragedies. Return to your childhood and whip up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

If you have your smartphone handy when the electricity outs out, visit the South Dakota Rural Electric Association outage map at outages.sdrea.coop/outages/maps. It will reveal to you that, indeed, the utility company knows about the outage. And it will show you the location and size of the outage and, when available, the estimated repair time.

We live an age of instant gratification, which yields a lack of patience.

If you want to post to Facebook seeing if others are affected, go for it. But expressing your displeasure before you’ve waited even the time it take to boil an egg is just a revelation that you don’t have much restraint.

There are power outages in this world. And some are even intentional. NorthWestern is planning some while its upgrade work continues. If you’re affected, you’ll be notified beforehand so as not to be surprised.

But in the instance of an unplanned loss of power, be reasonable about how you respond. If we have to immediately complain about an inconvenience like a brief power outage, we certainly live lives of luxury.

On June 24, a NorthWestern technician in Butte, Mont., was able to reroute capacity to another substation and power was restored quickly. The ongoing work should make those transitions almost seamless in the future, according to NorthWestern officials.

That’s a pretty amazing goal. Until then, let’s endure the growing pains unless they get outlandish.


Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Yankton, July 6

THUMBS DOWN to the latest scam that is hitting Yankton, in which people receive emails informing them they have outstanding parking tickets that can be paid electronically. At least two such instances have been reported this week, according to the Yankton Police Department. The emails inform the person of the tickets and that they can be paid either electronically or by phone. Yankton Police Chief Brian Paulsen pointed out that Yankton does not have a system in place to pay for tickets in any other way than by conventional means - like showing up in person to pay the fine. Please be wary of this scam, as well as all scams that circulate via the Internet, by email and through social media.

THUMBS UP to John Blackburn of Blackburn & Stevens for receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association (SDTLA). Blackburn received the award in recognition of service to the organization, the legal profession and the State of South Dakota. Only the fifth recipient of the award, the 80-year-old Blackburn started out in Redfield, where he recorded testimony as a court reporter. His partner Mike Stevens presented him the award in Rapid City last month. Blackburn served as SDTLA’s president from 1991-1992. Now in his 49th year practicing law, he serves as an example that all lawyers should strive to emulate.

THUMBS UP to Greg Vavra, program manager with the South Dakota Local Transportation Assistance Program (SDLTAP), for his presentation on road repairs before the Yankton County Commission Wednesday evening. Though overshadowed by that night’s CAFO proceedings, Vavra brought more clarity to another issue that Yankton County needs to face - its aging road infrastructure. Vavra noted that county spending on its roadways is far lower than equivalent counties and that the situation calls for less paved roads. This comes on the heels of two years failed votes to increase the property levy in order to bring more money in to maintain the county’s roads and bridges.


Capital Journal, Pierre, July 7

It may be time to replace the Pierre swimming pool

It has been rather warm and a little dry this summer, which would tend to make taking a dip in the local swimming pool sound pretty appealing . that is, if it were ever open.

Pierre’s municipal pool has been suffering from a series of breakdowns over the course of the last month. Its opening was delayed by five days for repairs, for example. On July 6 - that’s yesterday - the pool again was closed while its water was cleaned following a late-night equipment breakdown. The pool won’t reopen until Saturday.

City officials announced Thursday afternoon that a consulting firm hired to assess the pool had determined that it would cost less than $15,000 to fix a problem with the facility’s filtration system. The consultant also will be delivering a report to city leaders about what can be done to fix the pool.

All told, the Pierre swimming pool has been closed three times for maintenance since it opened late for the summer. That’s pretty frustrating for those Pierre residents who might want to cool off a bit or just pop down to the pool for a fun afternoon in the sun.

The public swimming pool in Pierre has been around since the mid-1920s. The bowl has held up pretty well, all things considered. The equipment that keeps the pool clean and filled has proven to be less durable. Maybe the pool consultant will come up with a permanent solution to the problem, maybe not.

In either case, it just may be time to consider starting over with something new. Our city’s 90-year-old pool has had a good run. But sometimes you’ve just got to let stuff go.

A group of Pierre citizens has been working on doing just that for a few years already. They’ve even been raising money in an effort to replace the municipal pool with a water park. That idea has merit but it might be a step farther than the people of Pierre are willing to go, judging by last year’s rec/events center vote.

Perhaps there’s a way to incorporate pieces of the water park idea into a slightly less ambitious project. Enlarging the city pool to accommodate long-course swim meets, adding some play features, modernizing the locker rooms and rebuilding the filtration system could be a relatively inexpensive way to improve the city’s quality of life.

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