Lightning Strike At Collegedale City Hall Will Cost City Tens Of Thousands

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - by Sarah Ruf
The Collegedale courtroom sports a new wood panel behind the bench, thanks to the city's maintenance crew building the wall in-house
The Collegedale courtroom sports a new wood panel behind the bench, thanks to the city's maintenance crew building the wall in-house
- photo by Sarah Ruf

An indirect lightning strike caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damages to Collegedale City Hall during storms last weekend.

City Manager Ted Rogers told commissioners during Monday night’s city commission meeting officials still don’t know the physical nor financial extent of the damage.

Losses include a copier, four computers, the electric door lock system, more than 40 electrical ballasts, three network switches, and parts of a security camera system.

“If it’s got a wire, there’s probable damage,” he said.

“It’s not going to be pretty.”

Commissioners unanimously approved an emergency measure to repair the locks in order to secure city hall as soon as possible.

Replacing the locks will cost more than $20,000, although insurance will cover part of the cost, City Manager Rogers said.

“Is there also some additional surge protection we can add to the front end of the electrical system?” asked Vice Mayor Johnson.

The city manager said surge protection would not protect from network wiring damage.

“It wasn’t just the electrical wiring that got us, it was all of it together,” he said. “We got hit pretty hard.”

In other news, David Barto asked commissioners to consider banning smoking in Collegedale parks.

Mr. Barto said he had nothing against smokers but that some individuals’ smoke breaks were interfering with his family outings at the Imagination Station playground.

“You and your kids end up going home smelling like an ashtray,” he said.

At least one nearby town has banned smoking from its parks. The city of East Ridge passed the ban last year.

City attorney Sam Elliott agreed to draw up an ordinance banning smoking from city playgrounds and certain picnic areas.

“Has smoking on the Greenway been an issue?” asked Mayor John Turner.

“I don’t see many joggers puffing away,” Commissioner Larry Hanson said.

“I think it’s a great ordinance to pass because the city of Collegedale was founded a lot on health and the lifestyle of being healthy,” said Vice Mayor Tim Johnson.

Commissioners unanimously approved on first reading amending city design standards for commercial and multi-family structures. The amendment would clarify the existing design code and tighten up loopholes in the ordinance, said city planner Kelly Martin.

“A lot of times a developer proposes a project and it does not necessarily meet the spirit or the intent of the ordinance, but it does meet the letter of it,” he said.

The amendment would ban building elements such as split face block, vertical rib block and more than 10 percent of stucco on one side of a building, among other changes.

Structures already under construction will not fall under any amended design standards.

Commissioner Hanson wondered why one building wall could not be built with more than 50 percent of any single type of building material, a current standard.

Mr. Martin said structures have the potential to appear monolithic when just one type of material is used in construction.

“We are very much pro-business,” said Andrew Mokert, the building, codes and safety officer for the city. “However, we do want certain standards in our town that are going to draw people in…as a whole, we’ve had a lot of positive feedback saying people want to come here because we do have a certain criteria.”

Official Pickleball courts are coming to Collegedale. The city will shell out $132,898 to build the courts, which will feature concrete sidewalks, lighting and a spectator picnic area. The courts will be built behind the Imagination Station train track.

“We will be the first in this area (to have Pickleball courts),”said Rodney Keeton, director of Public Works.

City road crews are set to pave University Drive this summer. Despite fresh paving just six years ago, a low quality pave job contributed to the current need, Mr. Keeton said.

Crews will start the project in mid-June, which will cost more than $100,000 and take around two weeks to complete.

Commissioner Katie Lamb was absent from Monday’s meeting. The next commission meeting is scheduled for June 3 at 6 p.m.

You can reach Sarah Ruf at or on Twitter @sarah_ruf.


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