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Vandal Behind Power Outages
Transgression cuts electricity to 4,800 in Outagamie County By Greg Bump
Post-Crescent staff writer
BLACK CREEK - Vandalism caused a pair of power outages that left up to 4,800 customers without power this past week in central and northern Outagamie County.
Both times 2,400 customers lost their power.
Margaret Stanfield, a spokeswoman for Wisconsin Electric and Power Co., said the most recent occurrence was Saturday night in Black Creek and Center Valley. The same method was used to tamper with equipment, and again 2,400 customers were cut off, this time for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
"When our crews investigated they found the same type of damage they did on the Fourth, cutting locks and getting into a specific piece of equipment," Stanfield said.
The first incident happened on July 4. An unknown person apparently cut a lock and tampered with equipment, cutting power to about 2,400 in the Town of Oneida and Seymour for about an hour.
"The system is very simple. This is basic science. But I won't specify to what degree of knowledge this person has of our system. That's best left to the police department. However, they are tampering with it and creating a lot of headaches for the people in those areas," Stanfield said.
"They are not hurting Wisconsin Electric, they are hurting the people whose power is going out."
At Romy's Nitingale, W5670 County A, Black Creek, about 230 wedding guests and general diners made do with the circumstances Saturday.
"The reception was going on and the band was playing when (power) went out," Romy's manager Gary Romenesko said.
"If it was 5 o'clock we would have been in dire straits, but everybody had already eaten."
A backup generator was fired up to power the band. Despite the soda fountains being down and the sudden lack of air conditioning, the outage couldn't dampen the spirit of the revelers, Romenesko said.
"It was dark, so we lit candles, and once the music got going, everybody just went on partying," Romenesko said.
Terry Brick, owner of Brick's Club 47, 108 N. Main St., Black Creek, said business was just winding down at the restaurant when the outage hit.
"We brought out candles and stuff like that. There was one order still on the grill and that was a hamburger. We finished that up and that was it.
"If that would have been, say, 7 o'clock, that would have been a whole different ball game. We got lucky."
Both Romenesko and Brick said the relative brevity of the outage didn't pose a threat to their refrigerated goods, but Romenesko did think of the people who produce the food.
"The only consolation is the farmers were done milking by then because that raises holy mighty cane with those guys," he said.
Stanfield said the power company is working with the Outagamie County Sheriff's Department to find the person or people responsible for the outages.
"From time to time you have people who think it's funny to do this type of thing, but it's very rare," she said. "Most people have the common sense to stay away. You can hurt yourself. It's electricity."
Investigators were unavailable for comment.
Stanfield would not elaborate on what equipment was disabled by the vandal.
"When we catch this person, and they will be caught, he or she will be dealt with harshly," Stanfield said.
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), July 10, 2000
This sounds like a lot of baloney to me. Vandals? How often have you heard of vandals getting into power installations to cut power? Saboteurs, yes. But vandals, no. Especially out in the boondocks.
-- Uncle Fred (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 10, 2000.
I've got to agree. This is yet another reach. A new excuse for a power outage that makes no sense at all. I guess squirrels, drunks hitting poles, etc. gets kind of stale after awhile.
-- Wellesley (email@example.com), July 10, 2000.
Sorry but you are both wrong, very wrong. Up until recently the power companies didn't make it very public, mostly out of fear of copy cats and giving some people ideas. That's changed over the last few years with rewards now being posted for information.
Mostly it's people shooting insulator strings.
-- The Engineer (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 10, 2000.