Columbiana using electrostatic animal guards

COLUMBIANA – Squirrels munching on electric lines in the city may get a slight shock now that the city has purchased electrostatic animal guards.

The 100 guards will be attached to electric transformers around town and transmit a mild electric shock similar to those generated by electrified livestock animal fences, City Manager Lance Willard said.

The shock is not enough to cause injury but is enough to keep squirrels or other animals from interrupting power – a problem the city has faced more than once over the last few years.

In January a squirrel died after getting into the city’s electric substation on the south side of town. It had chewed on a main cable, causing a four-hour-long power outage to the affected area.

Willard said that within the last week alone several squirrels interrupted the city’s power.

The city used electric fund money to buy the guards at $11.60 a piece for a total cost of $1,160, Finance Director Mike Harold said.

The guards can transmit a shock of up to 36 kilovolts.

Money from the fund was also used to buy 27 fault indicators that will be placed around nine different sites in the city.

Willard said the indicators will help the electric department track down glitches in the system. Three indicators are needed for one cable.

Sporadic power outages, or brownouts, mostly throughout the south side of town have been discussed among city officials over the last two years.

In August 2011, Councilman Bryan Blakeman said he received calls from residents experiencing sudden transient power outages in their homes. The brief outages were enough to crash computers and reset clocks.

A similar wave was also felt in the city the year before, according to then-city manager Keith Chamberlin.

The city also purchased 27 fault indicators in 2011 and those were suspended from power lines on Duquesne Street, Beverly Drive, Fairfield School Road and Fairfield Avenue.

The devices monitor the lines’ electrical currents and a red LED light on the device will visibly flash in the event of a disruption.

The new indicators will monitor more lines in the city, Willard said, and cost $218 a piece for a total cost of $5,885.

In other city business, American Legion Street Fair manager Jacob Sevek said the fair had a record-setting year.

Not only did the fair set records financially, but each trailer used more than 870 pounds of hamburger, he said. The fair also sold out of the $5,000 raffle tickets very early on, and more than 21,000 total tickets were purchased.

Willard thanked the Legion, all city crews, organizations and volunteers involved and noted that a meeting among street and safety departments prior to the fair helped make for a smooth transition.

“It was really nice to see everyone come together,” he said.

Councilman Lowell Schloneger also praised the Legion and community for a good year. Specifically, he said the parade moved along at a nice pace and was very well organized.

Sevek said the Columbiana Fire Department organized the parade and passed along credit.

Blakeman also wished to thank the department for responding promptly to his home after it was struck by lightning during a recent storm.

“I called the fire department and within five or six minutes there was a truck at my house. I just wanted to say thank you,” he said.

The strike did not result in any flames but did significant damage to some of his computer equipment and other technology, he added.

Willard said another resident sent a letter thanking the local departments for responding to their home for a similar incident.