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Stewart colony residents tired of being in the dark

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

In spite of the state, federal and private funds funneled to the Stewart Indian Colony for capital improvements to buildings and grounds, some full-time residents said they live with a daily concern whether they’ll wake up with power in their homes.

“We’ve had a problem with electricity for a few years, but it’s been really bad for the last couple weeks,” Victor Bruno, a Stewart Colony resident for more than three years, said Monday. “The transformers out here are really old and outdated. When they went out a week ago crews came out but left us without power.

“They said the trees had to be trimmed before they could do anything – which I find absurd.”

Residents were without power for long stretches Friday night through Sunday at 6 p.m., a state spokeswoman said – the result of two separate outages.

“We had a transformer go out and that was fixed,” said state Buildings and Grounds Manager Cindy Edwards. “Then a fuse went out, that was the second incident. The trees were trimmed, and that should’ve solved it.”

The state is slated to put an end to outages caused by the elements or foliage with a plan to underground all utilities at the Stewart Indian Colony in 2008-’09, Edwards said, noting the recent outages should ebb as a result of the tree trimming.

Other residents said this is not reassuring news for the here and now.

“We’ve had power outages since I’ve been here,” said a 27-year-old woman, who moved to the colony three weeks ago with her three children. “It never fails, I go buy food and the power goes out. I’m not the only mom with kids. We live in a small house, and it’s hard not knowing.”

Sierra Pacific Power Co., which supplies power to the colony, said the state is responsible for the infrastructure for the power delivery.

“The (colony) is a master-metered account,” said Faye Anderson, a spokeswoman for Sierra Pacific. “This means we deliver the power and it’s up to them to maintain the lines and transformers.

“Whatever happened happened on the inside.”

Bruno complained the state has largely ignored immediate needs of the 50 full-time colony residents.

“Somebody needs to address the situation and step things up,” said Bruno, a plumber. “I know a little about this stuff through my father and my profession. But what about all the young mothers here?

“They redid the power here for new buildings, but they didn’t do the houses. It just doesn’t seem fair.”

New construction has taken place on the colony, including a 5,100-square-foot state-of-the-art school, which opened April 2006.

“Again, we have a capital improvement project for the undergrounding,” Edwards said. “The portion of power that went down just affected one side of the facility.”