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Independence considers power line placement

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Time is ticking away for the Town of Independence to decide where to place the upgraded power lines that will eventually serve a new prison being built outside town.

At the regular town council meeting Sept. 9, Mayor Butch Reeves updated members on four options American Electric Power offered the town.

Reeves said the first option was to run the lines underground along Davis Street — at the town’s expense.

The lines would begin underground at the corner of the new Grayson National Bank building and continue along Davis to the intersection at Locust Street. Then, the lines would be overhead down Locust and meet the existing lines on U.S. 58 and continue along the highway to the prison site.

Estimates for that option range from $400,000 to $530,000 — depending on rock found along the way that could prolong digging for the lines.

The second option, Reeves told council, is to run the lines completely overhead down Davis Street.

The problem with this option is that one property owner on the street has refused to give the needed easement through his land. This person does not want the lines overhead ,but has agreed to have them buried.

If the town could get that easement, it would have not have to pay for moving the lines.

The third option is one the town previously looked at. It would bring the lines off U.S. 21 behind the Methodist Church and cross U.S. 58. The lines would then go down Hackler Lane, cross U.S. 21 near the library, continue through private property off Main Street and meet with the main lines on U.S. 58 near the high school.

Option three would cost the town roughly $50,000.

The final option — also at zero cost to the town — would involve running the lines overhead down Davis Street to the intersection with Lonesome Street. The lines would be run down Lonesome and along the east side of 58 for approximately 200 feet. After crossing 58, the lines would tie in with the same private property mentioned in option three and return to 58 near the high school.

Council members raised the idea of asking the Department of Corrections to help pay for any upgrades needed.

Town Manager Kenneth Vaught said a meeting was scheduled with the DOC to discuss the idea, but AEP has stated that the power line upgrade will be required regardless of the prison’s construction.

“The upgrade is because of additional usage,” said Kenneth Belton of AEP. “Not just because of the prison.”

Belton added that the town needs to consider that, if they choose to bury the lines, it would put an entire section of town that relies on those lines at a disadvantage if lightning were to strike the lines and cause an outage.

Town Manager Roger Brooks asked if AEP would be willing to run the power lines overhead down Davis Street until it reached the property owner who refused to give an easement and bury the lines from there.

“The problem with that is if lighting strikes... it will go directly to that underground wiring,” said Belton. “It takes three to four hours longer to fix an underground outage.”

Town council took no action on the power lines, opting to wait until Vaught talks with the DOC about possibly helping pay for the lines.

In other action council:

• paid monthly bills totaling $34,589.81.

• received Police Chief James Wagoner’s monthly report. The report included 226 calls for service, 24 summonses issued, nine arrests, five accidents and two special detail calls.

• appropriated $1,925 to the Special Events Committee for its annual Fall Foliage Festival to be held October 11. The event will feature $1,000 in cash prizes.