Canadian County water emergency closes offices

Commissioners decide to bring in port-a-potties after extended shutdown

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Canadian County officials on Feb. 15 discuss their options to reopen Canadian County government offices, which had been closed to the public - and most county employees - for more than a week due to El Reno’s water shutdown. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – Canadian County Commissioners decided Monday to rent 10 port-a-potties so county government offices could reopen.

The Canadian County Courthouse and county administration offices had been closed for more than a week after the City of El Reno’s municipal water plant went off-line Feb. 15 due to OG&E power outages.

The county offices reopened to the public on Tuesday, Feb. 23. But signs were placed on doors notifying people that the restrooms were not open and remained inoperable.

Canadian County offices were shut down “due to the continued water problems and with the health and safety of our employees as well as our constituents,” according to emergency alert notifications.

Although most county offices were still shut down Monday, the county commissioners held their regular meeting and talked about their options to reopen – even without water pressure.

“We can’t keep living like this,” said District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart, the county commission chairman.

“But it’s such a day-to-day thing. You think the next day, the water is going to come on. Then it doesn’t.”

Stewart said he had secured 10 port-a-potties for use at the county courthouse, administration building, assessor’s office, election board office, and sheriff’s office.

“We plan to be open Tuesday,” he said Monday afternoon.

The lack of water has forced many court hearings to be postponed on the second floor of the Canadian County Courthouse.

One suggestion was made Monday to move hearings to courtrooms at the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center until water service resumes at the courthouse.

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CLEARING THE SNOW

Canadian County’s district crews were challenged to clear county roadways during extended below-freezing temperatures and the heavy snowfall.

“I think one grader and a loader were available in each district, trying to hit 900 to 1,000 miles of road in a timely fashion,” District 1 County Commissioner Marc Hader said.

Hader told constituents that county commissioners were “trying to be as fast and efficient with the challenges we had with the equipment freezing.”

In District 2, there were piles of snow as high as the top of road graders.

While the public couldn’t enter most Canadian County government offices, county maintenance supervisor Chris Jackson was commended for ensuring parking lots were clear of snow.

This included the county courthouse and judicial building, administration building, election board office, assessor’s office, health department buildings, and juvenile center.

Commissioner Hader suggested Canadian County invest in a front-mounted snowplow for the maintenance department.

Commissioner Stewart said he’s already been checking prices for a rear-end sander than can be attached to trucks to sand parking lots.

Another option for snow removal is for the county to hire a contractor with a skid steer, Canadian County Undersheriff Kevin Ward suggested.

“Even though the county may be closed because of inclement weather, we’re still 24/7,” Ward said. “So, we had employees getting stuck in just our parking lot.”