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1984: Customers planned to sue PGE for giant power surge


by: ARCHIVE PHOTO - Meet the 1974 Estacada Union High Junior-Senior Prom princesses. They are (standing, from left) Linda Parmele, Sherri Parsons, Linda Roses, Lynn Perrin (seated, from left) and Barb Haggerty.

1974

An Oregon State Health Division official warned Oregonians that hamsters purchased at the Lake Road K-Mart Store between Jan. 11 and March 26, 1974 may be carriers of an infectious disease believed to cause harmful meningitis in humans.

1984

Following the required 30-day notice, a group of Springwater area residents planned to file a class-action lawsuit against Portland General Electric and called for a Public Utilities Commission investigation into a power surge which destroyed household appliances on April 18, 1984.

The accident happened when a large tree fell on a high-voltage line near Day Hill Road and Foothills Highway and a branch conducted 5 times the amount of normal electricity into a regular service line ten feet below.

A PGE crew discovered the downed tree when investigating the cause of a power outage that affected about 1,500 customers in the Colton area for about an hour and 20 minutes.

The surge ruined microwaves, televisions, water pumps, video recorders, furnaces and other appliances in 100-200 households within about a five-mile radius.

Linda Megaw, one of the affected customers, said that several people had called PGE to seek compensation for their lost appliances but were told PGE felt no responsibility.

Howard South, manager of engineering and construction for the Oregon City division of PGE said the company was considering the incident “an act of God.”

PGE representatives said that the company adhered to industry standards for line placement, maintained a large swath of trees around the line and checked on the line regularly.

Megaw said the customer group believed it was PGE’s carelessness over the location of high-voltage lines near regular distribution lines and maintenance of large rights-of-way that led to the mishap.

The lawsuit sought compensation and assurances that PGE would take measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

PGE representatives said that increasing safety measures would result in higher bills for customers.

Megaw said she’d prefer that to the $400 bill to fix her microwave, two televisions and clock radio.

One of Megaw’s sons had been home alone during the surge.

“What if he was plugging something in? Or what if he was standing next to something that couldn’t stand that amount of voltage?” she asked.

1994

The Estacada School District was in the midst of implementing House Bill 3565, an education reform bill. The district was incorporating outcome-based instruction, which measures students’ success according to how well they use information.

Meanwhile, a signature-collecting drive was underway to get an initiative to repeal the bill on the November ballot.

Estacada School District Scott Clark gave a presentation to a packed room defending outcome-based education.

He clarified that the method did not dictate curriculum.

“OBE does not have anything to do with what you teach,” he said. “It’s simply the process you use.”

“I promise that in the Estacada School District, OBE will never replace the learning of the material,” he continued. “It will be added on.”

2004

A fired Estacada School District bus driver was reinstated.

A labor arbitrator found that the district had produced evidence that Lori Lohr had exceeded posted and advisory speed limits twice during the previous year, but determined that dismissal was an excessive punishment for the violations.

Lohr had been a bus driver for the district for 23 years and had never had a chargeable accident or received a speeding ticket in that time.

The arbitrator ruled that Lohr be reinstated on a plan of assistance to monitor her speed and that a suspension of two months without pay was an appropriate discipline.

In other news, Richard Slater was hired as the new Estacada High School principal and Nancy Torbert was named the new principal of Clackamas River Elementary.

Slater was replacing Gary Lewis who was moving from the high school to be the principal of Eagle Creek Elementary the following year.

Torbert was replacing Kevin Olds who was taking over for departing Principal Bob Espenel at the junior high.

2013

Deanna Swenson, a former Clackamas County elections worker, was sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to official misconduct and tampering with ballots in the November 2012 election.

Swenson was ordered to pay more than $13,000 in fines and to perform community service. She was banned from the Clackamas County Elections Office.

Swenson had been removed from her position processing county election ballots on Oct. 31, 2012, after another election worker saw her marking a partially filled-out ballot for Republican candidates.

The incident sparked an Oregon Department of Justice investigation.

“Although this was a difficult situation, I am proud of the way it was handled and the quick and decisive action that followed the discovery,” said Sherry Hall, Clackamas County elections clerk. “While our ballot security plan (like those in other Oregon counties) is not public record, the voters of Clackamas County can be assured that steps are being taken and oversight procedures are being implemented to keep the ballot security system in Clackamas County strong.”

Swenson was the 13th person prosecuted for voter fraud since Oregon went to all vote-by-mail elections in 2000.



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