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Johnson County officials approve generators

BY AUDREY ROEN | DECEMBER 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Johnson County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday to approve a grant request for four backup power generators for the county.

Sara Sedlacek, a grant specialist for the county, presented the supervisors with a proposal to purchase the generators during their informal meeting.

The four generators will cost more than $560,000, and, if Sedlacek's grant request is approved, more than $420,000 of that will be funded by the Department of Homeland Security. The rest will come from the county and state.

The county's only generator, which sits in the Johnson County Jail, was purchased four years ago. A generator serves as an emergency power source for the building in which it is placed.

Seldacek said the generators will avoid costly shutdowns payments of $17,000 per hour for the buildings that lose power.

"We've had pretty significant power outages in the past … This is just going to ensure the county can stay up an and running during those times of power outages," Sedlacek said. "I think it will be a good thing for the county; our cost is actually going to be less than what it costs for what one would install."

Buildings scheduled to receive a generator include the Health and Human Services Building, the Secondary Planning and Roads Building, the Courthouse, and the Administration Building.

County engineer Greg Parker said the SEATS and Secondary Planning and Roads Building has experienced temporary power outages, and officials will be pleased to have a power generator.

"We probably get half a dozen storms a year in which we would lose power, and we have to be creative with all our equipment available," Parker said. "Unless our building is knocked down, those generators will allow us to continue our level of service to the people of Johnson County."

County prosecutor Janet Lyness said the Courthouse experienced power outages in the tornado of 2006, and she hopes that, in addition to backing up power, the generator will also prevent the loss of files stored electronically.

"Because in the next years all the courtroom documenting is going to be done electronically, if a power outage occurred, you couldn't access those claims or court files," said Lyness.

In addition to power generators, the proposal also includes a request for new sirens to be installed around the county. Sedlacek's assistant in charge of siren information, Gary Wilson, was unable to comment about the sirens this week.

The proposal was approved by all five supervisors, and officials will be granted official permission to submit the proposal next week. They'll wait to hear from Homeland Security.

"In some cases, people have lost power for days on end; it makes sense that we need backup generators" said Supervisor Janelle Rettig. "In case of an emergency or crisis, the people expect their government to take care of the power."


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