Blackout alters classes; problem discovered

Josh Buckman

tudents and faculty might not have to worry about having class in the dark anymore.

Facilities Management officials recently discovered that an overload in Western’s electrical system at one of its substations caused the two campus blackouts last week.

Facilities Management Director Doug Ault said the heat and return of students to campus led to an increased use of electricity.

The overload caused power outages in several campus classrooms and dorms that get electricity from the substation on Dogwood Avenue. The station, which has parts over 40 years old, is supposed to be replaced as part of a $36 million update to the university’s electrical system.

Ed West, director of planning, design and construction, does not know when the electrical system will be replaced, but he said the facilities management department is trying to reduce the amount of electricity at the substation.

Several students and faculty members were annoyed by the power outages.

“It’s frustrating especially because we’re paying for this education, and they can’t provide satisfactory service,” Elizabethtown junior Christine Burton said.

Students will get more time to drop or add courses because of the power outages.

Prior to the blackouts, students attempting to change classes after yesterday would have had to pay a $20 fee. Now, the deadline for dropping and adding with no charge will be tomorrow.

In other news, facilities management Engineer Herb Hess, who collapsed last Wednesday trying to open a new electrical route, remained in the hospital throughout the weekend, but is showing signs of improvement, said Bob Skipper, director of media relations.

Hess, 28, of Tompkinsville, who spent much of Wednesday in the intensive care unit at The Medical Center, was moved to a private room on Thursday, Skipper said.

Hess had not been released from The Medical Center as of yesterday, Maintenance Manager Steve Barz said.

Doctors have ruled out heart attack and stroke as the cause of the incident, Ault said.

Hess was working in a mechanical room when the incident occurred.

Barz said he believes Hess might have been electrocuted.

The incident is being investigated by the campus police and Western’s Environmental Health and Safety Office.

Reach Josh Buckman at [email protected]