D-B goes dark for transformer replacement

Rick Wagner • May 30, 2018 at 1:06 PM

KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett is going dark, but it’s only temporary.

The lights and other electrically powered items at most of the high school are scheduled to be off until mid-June, with the main office and athletics office temporarily moved off campus. The planned power outage began Tuesday to allow the replacement of two transformers more than 50 years old, including one in a boiler room under the Buck Van Huss Dome. The other is under an alley where Dumpsters sit.

The power is to return Friday, June 15. The replacement is occurring during summer break to minimize disruptions. School officials have said that if the transformer under the dome failed, it could leave most of D-B in the dark for the better part of a month. 

The school will be closed to all students and staff through June 15. The entire facility, including the front office, will be closed during this time. During the planned power outage, the receptionist has been relocated to D-B EXCEL and can be reached by calling (423) 378-2185.

The counseling office will operate from Robinson Middle School. Dates have been communicated to students regarding diploma pick-up, transcript requests, final exam make-ups and obligation resolution. This information is also available on the D-B website at dbhs.k12k.com/.

The athletics/activities office will operate from the Robinson library. The number for the athletics office is (423) 378-8475, and the office will continue to operate to the fullest extent possible. Spirit items will not be available for purchase during the outage. In addition, WCSK Radio 90.3 FM which is housed at D-B, will have shortened broadcast days. On-air times will be from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Live streaming will not be available.

The relocation of the two transformers around which D-B was constructed in 1967 will cost the school system $357,600, with the school board in March adding a 6 percent contingency fee of $21,456. The only other bid was about $200,000 more.

Chief Finance Officer David Frye said after consulting with the city electrical inspector, AEP and the winning bidder, Kingsport Armature & Electric Co., it became clear it would be better and cheaper to replace both transformers at once and do it this summer.

“Back in the ’60s, this (building around transformers) was a common practice,” Frye said in March.

AEP will install new ones outside. Part of the expense is wiring to hook up the new AEP transformers to the building.

Funding came from $1 million in bond improvement funds and didn’t require Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval.

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