Broken water main prompts day off for Bald Eagle Area schools

crosenbl@centredaily.comOctober 24, 2012 

Bald Eagle Area School District students received a surprise vacation Wednesday.

A broken water main serving Wingate and some of Milesburg prompted the district to close all its schools. Customers also were advised to boil drinking and cooking water until further notice.

Only Wingate Elementary School and the adjacent middle and high schools lost water pressure, but district officials also closed the Howard, Mountaintop and Port Matilda elementary schools after concluding it would be “nearly impossible” to make up the day just at Wingate.

The district cited overlapping bus schedules and itinerant teachers’ schedules as the main factors behind the decision.

Superintendent Dan Fisher said he first learned of the lack of water at about 2 a.m., then waited as long as possible before deciding it was best to cancel school.

“We were pretty sure even a 2-hour delay wouldn’t accommodate the time it would take to repair the line,” he said.

Fisher said he wanted to send the alert early enough for parents to make arrangements.

“I’m sure for most families it was an inconvenience, and we regret that,” he said.

Milesburg Borough Water Authority workers repaired the main by late morning, restoring water pressure to the schools, the district administration office nearby and area businesses and homes. Further information about the break and the number of customers affected was not available.

Milesburg Mayor Ethel Kellerman, whose husband, Frederick Kellerman, is the authority vice president, said she thought the break occurred near the Living Faith Church along old U.S. Route 220, between Wingate and Milesburg.

Her home and many others in the borough did not lose water, but neither she nor her husband knew more about the cause and extent of the break, she said.

Brother’s Pizza in Wingate, across the street from the high school, had no water throughout the morning. But other than not being able to serve fountain drinks, the restaurant managed fine, returning to normal before lunch, employee Tina Prisk said.

“We did get a lot of people coming in thinking we might have been closed,” she said.

Early in the morning, the authority advised its Wingate customers to boil all drinking and cooking water for at least a minute after the main was repaired. Fisher said the district is prepared to provide students with bottled water for the rest of the week, and to import water for food services.

“Based on past experience, I would expect the boiled water notice would be lifted over the weekend,” he said.

The authority Wednesday did not say how long the advisory will last.

Fisher said the school district will make up the missed day on June 5, the new last day of the school year.

Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter @CRosenblumNews.

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