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County checks to find space for emergency generator
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Nov. 8, 2008) — Plans to install an emergency power generator for the Pulaski County Courthouse hit a snag this week, forcing the county commission to issue a last-minute request for bids to install a concrete pad and wiring for a 12,000-pound generator and decide where it should be located.

Commissioner Bill Farnham arranged for Rex Freeman of Piney River Contracting in Devil’s Elbow and Kris York from York Electric of Crocker to attend the county commission meeting and advise how to place the generator, which will be large enough to power the courthouse when the power goes out. That’s crucial since ice storms this spring knocked out the heat and light for the county jail and its inmates, and also made it impossible to use the courthouse basement as a storm shelter.

Freeman cautioned that the generator would need to have some sort of enclosure.

“Generally it’s recommended for all generators, whether it’s small ones or large ones like this, that you have a containment field around it so when you turn it on, the sound goes up instead of out,” Freeman said. “On one that big, you’re going to have some serious air usage … if you’re going to put any kind of containment around it, you’re going to have to look at 24 inches in any direction so people can get in and around it.”

Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall wasn’t convinced, noting that the generator wouldn’t be used on a regular basis and would serve only in emergency situations and for periodic tests.

“I think you’re better off to have the sound dispersed out because if you send it up with some kind of containment wall, you’re just going to direct the noise up and into the courthouse where they’re more sensitive than we are, considering their recording devices,” Ransdall said.

Ransdall said he liked a proposal to place the generator in the rear of the courthouse on the west side.

“The gazebo kind of hides it,” Ransdall said.

However, after checking the available space outside, Commissioner Dennis Thornsberry said he’s worried there won’t be enough space for the generator and a containment wall — and maybe not even for the generator.

“I think if you put that thing out there, you’re just making a d___ mess,” Thornsberry said. “There’s not enough room to put that thing back there, there just isn’t, and I don’t like the looks of this.”

Freeman said there are other reasons besides noise to have a containment of some type, and said chain link fence would be one option if noise is not a concern.

“Most containments are for noise as well as security,” Freeman said. “That thing’s sitting out there where there’s not much lighting anyway at night and it’s hard to see.”

Freeman noted that fuel tank security could also be an issue.

Farnham said part of the problem is that the company sending the generator didn’t give much advance warning and some parts have already started arriving and needed to be stored.

“After we got surprised by the switching unit showing up, I called and asked, ‘What the dickens is going on?’” Farnham said. “We don’t have the money to store this someplace and then hire a crane to come to move it again. I wasn’t extremely happy.”

Ransdall agreed that timing is a problem, noting that the generator is scheduled to arrive within two weeks but the concrete pad will take about 10 days to harden after being poured.

Commissioners agreed to advertise for bids for the concrete and electrical work, with specifications that include a 10-foot by 18-foot concrete pad for the generator; detailed bid proposals are on file at the courthouse. The commissioners will consider bids at a future meeting.

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