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POWER OUTAGE DOWNTOWN

POWER OUTAGE DOWNTOWN

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On Friday afternoon several downtown buildings, including the Criminal Justice Center at Poplar, experienced a complete, albeit relatively brief, power outage. At the Justice Center, courthouse staff, office workers, and visitors attending to criminal justice matters were forced to navigate their way through the building using only the natural light that filtered in through windows and skylights. At 2:15 employees and guards (as elevators and escalators were also not working in the 10-story building) advised civilians to exit the building, saying that court would be canceled and the clerks’ offices would be closed for the remainder of the day. When the Flyercalled the Shelby County Jail Information Line, a breathless employee remarked that all the power was out and had been for a while. The same employee then set the phone down. Much commotion was heard in the background before another person picked up the receiver again and exclaimed, "We're having a riot! Call back!" and hung up the phone. Repeated calls to the information line were met with a busy signal. However, guards outside of the building did not appear frantic or concerned with the possibility of a riot and the correctional facility did not have the outward appearance of an emergency. There was a leap-frog pattern of sites that were subjected to the outage, with unaffected buldings interspersed with those where a total blackout occurred. Lawyer John Ryder, whose office is on the 27th floor of the National Bank of Commerce building, related how he was playing handball at the downtown YMCA, and at some point between1:454 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. hit an especially good shot, whereupon he saw the lights flicker. "For a minute there, I thought that was some kind of result of my shot," Ryder said. Ryder left the Y sometime between 2:30 and 3, stopped at a nearby sandwich and shop and picked up a carryout lunch, then entered the NBC building only to discover that all the power was out and that he would have to walk up the 27 flights of stairs just to get his car keys, which he'd left in his office. A spokesperson for MLGW, Elizabeth McCune, was eventually reached upon the restoration of power in the area at approximately 3 p.m. McCune gave the beginning time of the outage as approximately 2 p.m. The Flyer has been unable to confirm that there were any disturbances in the jail facility..

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