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A water main break that erupted late Tuesday in front of the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Shelbyville has been repaired, and lanes along Main Street are in the process of being cleared and reopened.
The line, just west of the intersection of Smithfield Road, had two breaks, one at the connection and another officials believe is running along the pipe, which will make the repair much more difficult. While they assess the issue water continues to flood the area down the hill toward Beechwood Avenue.
Traffic moving from Smithfield Road onto east Main Street was forced to detour, and eastbound traffic in the area was restricted to one lane.
Shelbyville Water Company officials said that it is unknown how many homes and businesses may be affected as worker try to repair the break, which will force the main to be shutoff. During the overnight hours, there was no disruption.
Workers from the department, Shelbyville Public works and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet were on hand to battle temperatures that had moderated slightly from previous lows and were in the mid-teens.
Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty is on sight to monitor the situation.
This was the biggest impact of the biting cold that had seized the region in the past few days.
As temperatures Monday and into Tuesday morning dipped below zero and wind-chill factors made it feel like -20 or worse, schools and a few local government offices and businesses told employees to stay home and out of the weather.
Businesses, government offices and schools are all open and on regular schedules today as temperatures are predicted to climb back above freezing for the first time since Sunday night.
And local electric companies are asking customers to be careful with their thermostats.
Shelby Energy and Kentucky Utilities, both of which service Shelby County, released statements this week asking customers be mindful of the power grid.
Candi Waford, manager of member services at Shelby Energy, said the request to curtail usage is a precautionary one.
“We haven’t had any trouble, but with all the heat pumps and furnaces constantly running, it can put a strain on the system,” she said.
Along with keeping the heat levels down, Shelby Energy requested that customers turn off non-essential lighting and to avoid dishwashers, washing machines and dyers, especially during peak hours in the morning and evening.
KU’s release reminded customers to block out drafts and add layers of clothing, even when inside.
The Public Service Commission even made note of the severe weather, reminding consumers that weather, not price is the key factor in usage.
PSC Chairman David Armstrong told the Kentucky Press News Service that turning the thermostat down a few degrees can help save costs and energy usage.
“Of course we always ask that customers use energy responsibly, but this is the first time we’ve done something like this since I’ve been here,” said Waford, who has been with Shelby Energy going on seven years. “I don’t recall it happening before, but everything we’re seeing says this is the coldest it’s been in 10 years or more.”
Waford said there have been a handful of outages along with the cold snap, but very few customers have been affected.
That seems to be the sentiment throughout the local water companies as well.
David Hedges, the general manager for North Shelby and U.S. 60 water districts, said his company hasn’t had any issues because of the cold.
“Nothing major, we’ve had to service a few meters where the tops were off and they’d frozen,” he said. “Over the last couple days we’ve had about thirty customers call, and we’ve gone out to check if it’s frozen on our end or theirs.”
Representatives at West Shelby Water relayed the same message of no major issues.
But the bitter temperatures did cause several delays and closings around the area.
Closings and delays
Several government offices closed on Monday because of original predictions that several inches of snow to go with the sub-zero temperatures.
“When I saw on the news that the court and schools and all that were going to be closed, I called [Sheriff] Mike [Armstrong], and he said he was closing [Monday] because it was going to be too cold for anyone to be out,” Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry said. “So I decided to close, too. I got girls that live on Pea Ridge and Antioch roads, and when I made the call, I still thought there was going to be a lot of snow. But we’re paying for it today with all the backed up work.”
Armstrong closed the sheriff’s administrative offices but deputies remained on patrol.
Both were back open today.
“We just decided for safety reasons, we’d keep our office staff at home,” he said. “But our officers were still out on patrol. Knock on wood, all our cars started and we spent the last twenty-four to thirty-six hours looking for folks out on the roads that were having issues. We actually found a few people [Monday] night that were stuck out on the roads, so we made sure they stayed safe and warm. We’re just lucky that it’s not something that came in and stuck around for eight to ten days.”
Shelby County Circuit Court Clerk Lowry Miller said the threat of precipitation was what led him to close, too.
“It was a precautionary move,” he said. “My concern on Sunday was that people probably didn’t need to be out in the weather. But today [Tuesday], since we didn’t get the snow they were talking about, I figured they could brave the cold from their cars to the building. It’s a nice seventy degrees in here.”
Some businesses delayed their hours – such as Citizens Union Bank – on Monday, and others closed their offices for one of both days.
The lack of snow left many wondering about school cancelations on Monday and Tuesday, but the morning temperatures below zero with wind-chill factors in negative 20s or worse was more of an issue.
Ryan Allan, the school district’s public relations coordinator, said there isn’t a set temperature to call off school.
“There is not a formal policy in place,” he said. “The decision is based on several data points but boils down to a combination of wind-chill and temperature. The bottom line for any closing/delay decision we make is focused on student safety.”