Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Newport officials praise gas crisis response

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Mayor Tom Guidugli and city commissioners praised citizens Monday night for the way they persevered during the natural gas crisis over the past 10 days.

        Apparently residents felt the same way about how the city handled the situation, because no one came to the city commission meeting to complain about the water main break and subsequent water that filled many gas lines and disrupted distribution to 3,708 gas services in the city.

        “I can't say enough about how the city's residents handled the hardships,” the mayor said. “This city is on a roll, and this is just an example of how the citizens are prepared to work with us. The organization that went into correcting the problem, both from the city and Cinergy, was great.”

        City Manager Phil Ciafardini said that as of 3:30 p.m. Monday there were 3,529 gas services back in operation.

        “The remainder are vacant buildings and people we have been unsuccessful in contacting,” he said. “If we hear from people, we can respond very quickly to get their gas back on.”

        Mr. Ciafardini said there has been no official determination of what caused the water main rupture or the water in the gas main, and it could be several weeks before all investigations of the incident are completed by the city and Cinergy.

        “But from the outset, the focus by the city and Cinergy has been on our residents, their customers,” he said. “Liability has not been an issue. Everyone has worked to restore gas service.”

        He said only one person had to be relocated for a medical reason during the gas emergency, and no one stayed overnight at a shelter.

        Commissioners unanimously approved first reading of an ordinance that would amend the city municipal code to bring the recreation and public works departments under the direction of the police chief.

        The police department already controls the code enforcement section.

        “This (reorganization) is something we've talked about for some time,” Mr. Ciafardini said.

        “There has been concern over maintainance throughout the city. We believe that bringing these departments under the police department will accomplish several things, but especially improvements in maintainance,” he said.

        Police Chief Tom Fromme has recommended the hiring of two additional public works employees.


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