Sudden power outage causes extended issues

YOUNGSTOWN — The power outage that hit the Mahoning County Courthouse and several other buildings Tuesday afternoon resulted in some extended problems for the Purple Cat organization and Mahoning County Board of Elections in the county-owned Oakhill Renaissance building on Oak Hill Avenue.

Allan Landfried, director of facilities management for the county commissioners, said Thursday that Ohio Edison would be shutting off power to certain areas in the city early Friday to help correct issues that cropped up Tuesday.

Landfried said while the power was off, county employees would be pulling out breakers from Oakhill to be “refurbished.” Later the power will be turned off again to allow the repaired equipment to be reinstalled.

One of the areas most affected in the Oakhill building was the Purple Cat, which offers day programs that allow special needs participants to engage in vocational programs, creative projects and classes that develop life skills.

Landfriend said Thursday the power was still off to the Purple Cat’s kitchen and cafeteria. He said the board of elections and Purple Cat were the only two county buildings where power did not come completely back on after about 15 or 20 minutes.

Landfried said he thinks the reason the outage caused ongoing issues is that the power went out so suddenly.

About 80 percent of the power at the board of elections came back on right away, Landfried said.

The power outage, which occurred about 2:15 to 2:30 p.m. and lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, affected several other buildings, including the county courthouse, county administration building and county jail, which are downtown; and the dog warden’s office, which is on North Meridian Road.

The courthouse lost power for about 15 or 20 minutes, but backup generators restored power to the other buildings right away, Landfriend said.

During Thursday’s commissioners meeting, Commissioner Carol Rimedio Righetti said she would like to have a meeting with Ohio Edison to discuss the matter.

“We were questioned, ‘Why is this happening?;” she said of Tuesday’s power outage and complications that followed the outage. “We need to bring them in to get an idea of what’s going on with this.”

Lauren Siburkis, Ohio Edison spokeswoman, said Tuesday that the afternoon’s outage affected buildings in Youngstown and Austintown and was caused by Ohio Edison workers in the Youngstown area who “tripped a breaker” while trying to transfer electricity from one line to another to balance the power load in the Youngstown area during a time of high electrical usage.

She said the problem was that the workers turned off the power too quickly. The power was back on in about 20 minutes, she said.

Three employees of the main Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County were in an elevator when the power went out, trapping them for about 10 minutes, said Maggie Henderson, strategic communications officer for the library system.

The Youngstown Police Department also experienced a shutdown of its phone system for a couple of hours Tuesday evening. It’s not known whether that was related to the power outage.


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