INDIANA - 2nd Mall Power Outage, Frequent in St. Josephs Coutny : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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May 4, 2000

Title: 2nd mall outage fun for some, not for others

By WAYNE FALDA Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Sachet Sue's was shut down. Aladdin's Castle was as dark as a dungeon. The scooters at Scooter Warehouse scooted nowhere.

Another day at Scottsdale Mall; another power outage.

For the second time this week, the lights went out early Wednesday afternoon. Power was cut to a section of South Bend's south side encompassing 550 customers, including the mall and surrounding area.

Businessmen were chagrined.

"No pumps. No power wash. No fountain drinks," huffed Cheri Stoynoff, assistant manager of the WelshMart Amoco at the corner of Ireland and Miami roads.

How much money was lost from two hours of turned-away business? "Too much to count," she replied curtly.

Such irritation was clearly not the case for the kids--and adults--who found free ice cream being given away at the Ritter's Frozen Custard stand at the Scottsdale Mall parking lot.

Twelve-year-old Lauren Kominskiewicz, slurping on a chocolate cone freebie, announced happily: "My friend keeps telling me to come here whenever the power is out."

"That's called networking," her mother, Fran, said in resignation.

"Are you the one who turned the power out?" Ritter's general manager, Todd Bookwalter, asked Lauren.

Bookwalter was taking the crisis in stride. "There is nothing I can do," he remarked.

Except give away slowly melting ice cream.

That earned Bookwalter a theatrical hug from Michael Ferriter. "I love you, man," Ferriter said to the astonished general manager.

Ferriter, a Target cashier, was making an ice cream run for fellow Target employees along with a friend, Julie Yoder, of Granger.

Bookwalter continued to patrol the perimeter to announce the good news.

"It's free--F-R-E-E," he announced to two mothers who had emptied a vanload of kids. More squeals of delight.

"We've given away a couple of hundred dollars worth," he said at 2:15 p.m., or about an hour before the power was restored.

On Monday, when the power was out for nearly eight hours, Ritter's didn't give away much and saw its ice cream turn creamy.

"Remember, it rained all day Monday," he said.

Power outages have been frequent in southern St. Joseph County.

The outage on Monday was caused by American Electric Power crews who accidentally cut lines at the Jackson Road substation while in the process of increasing electric capacity to the area, said Susan Sheets, AEP corporate communications manager.

"We are still investigating today's outage," she said.

The first batch of customers was returned to service by 3:15 p.m. Scottsdale Mall was returned to power at 4:02 p.m.

Two other outages, both in Lakeville last month, were unrelated. One was caused by a car hitting an electric pole, the other by a squirrel.

The second outage in nearly 48 hours irked Scottsdale Mall general manager Bob O'Grady, who commiserated with the store owners, especially food court vendors.

"They will have to dump their food," he said.

"For security reasons and liability reasons, when the power goes down, we have to shut down the mall. We have to lock it down. We have to get all the customers out," he said.

"Tenants who have electric gates with no manual override have to stay here until the power goes back on," O'Grady continued. "They have to assume responsibility for their own merchandise."

Lost sales could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

"Everybody is pretty aggravated. That's the bottom line. It's a major inconvenience," O'Grady said. "For smaller operators, a day's worth of business can mean an awful lot to them."

Centennial Wireless regional manager Rob Shelby was technically still in business inside the mall.

"If somebody wanted to come in and wanted to activate a phone, we still had the capability to do it," Shelby said.

Trouble was: No customers were allowed to enter the mall.

To reach Wayne Falda: (219) 235-6326


-- (, May 05, 2000

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