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Published: Wednesday, 6/16/2004

Mayor calls for inspections after falling light pole hurts 2

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Two city workers are treated on Main Street before they are taken to the hospital. The workers were replacing the sidewalk near the Sports Arena when a rusty pole 'just plopped over,' another worker said. Two city workers are treated on Main Street before they are taken to the hospital. The workers were replacing the sidewalk near the Sports Arena when a rusty pole 'just plopped over,' another worker said.
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Mayor Jack Ford promised yesterday to demand that Toledo Edison inspect streetlights throughout Toledo after a rusted light pole fell on two workers who were repairing a sidewalk along Main Street near the Sports Arena late yesterday morning, injuring both.

Marvin Arnold, 37, of Toledo, was admitted to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center for observation after the falling pole hit him on the head, while Travis Ware, 53, also of Toledo, was released after examination and treatment.

Hospital staff said Mr. Arnold was in an observation ward, but did not have his condition listed last night.

The two men were guiding a concrete pour to replace a sidewalk panel on the north side of the street.

Bert J. Gustafson, the concrete mixer operator, said his truck's pouring chute scraped against

the light pole as he moved the vehicle, but that he had no reason to believe it was exerting much pressure against the pole.

The rusty pole was hit by a concrete mixer's chute. Mayor Jack Ford promised to demand that Toledo Edison inspect its streetlight poles citywide. The rusty pole was hit by a concrete mixer's chute. Mayor Jack Ford promised to demand that Toledo Edison inspect its streetlight poles citywide.
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The pole "just plopped over," Mr. Gustafson said. "I didn't know it was rusted out like that."

Extensive rust was visible around both the bottom of the snapped-off pole and the base that remained bolted to its concrete foundation.

The incident immediately called into question Toledo Edison's inspection, maintenance, and replacement practices for the free-standing streetlights it maintains in Toledo, many of which are decades old, have received numerous coats of paint, and are splotched with rust.

Mayor Ford issued the following statement: "My thoughts are with the injured workers, and we hope for a speedy recovery for both. I have asked Law Director Barb Herring to send a letter to Toledo Edison for "an immediate inspection of all poles and bolts to make sure each is secure."

Chuck Krueger, an Edison spokesman, said he would have to see such a letter before commenting on it, but promised the utility would cooperate with any city or police investigations.

"We have begun an internal investigation, as we do with any personal injury case involving us or our equipment," Mr. Krueger said.

He declined to say how many free-standing streetlights the utility maintains in Toledo, or what the equipment's average age is, or otherwise comment on the incident pending that investigation's completion.

Danny Mikolajczyk, a street operations supervisor with the streets division, said a leaf-collection crew he was supervising knocked over a rusted light pole on Berdan Avenue several years ago with the hose from a vacuum truck.

"We were moving along and it came right down behind us. Edison came out and they found three more" that needed replacement, Mr. Mikolajczyk said, adding, "There's no maintenance. Even some of the Edison guys will tell you that."

A similar pole toppled near Fifth Third Field last summer, and a windstorm felled a rusted streetlight on Collingwood Boulevard near the Toledo Museum of Art in February, 2001. But as on Berdan, no one was struck in those incidents.

City Councilman Bob McCloskey, whose district includes East Toledo, said he was very unhappy with Toledo Edison's recent streetlight maintenance.

"Lights are out, there are dilapidated poles," Mr. McCloskey said. "The people of Toledo are assessed for these poles. They all should be replaced, right along this area."

Don Czerniak, president of Local 7 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, also blamed yesterday's accident on Edison cost-cutting. Both of the workers were lucky not to have been killed, he said.

"No citizen needs to be injured by something like this," said Mr. Czerniak, whose union represents the two injured men.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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