Castle Valley Comments – Sept. 5, 2019

The power outage Aug. 28 was more widespread than just Castle Valley – and the surge that came when the lights came back on did some damage.

Those electrical outages usually just involve Castle Valley although the power outages in Castle Valley are far less frequent since Rocky Mountain Power invested millions of dollars in upgrades to the area.

According to Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson Spencer Hall, the outage affected 2,934 customers and involved part of San Juan County, as well as all of Grand County. Our power didn’t seem to be out as long as the rest of the county.

Hall said that for some unknown reason a power line came down between the Hatch and Pinto substations in the Spanish Valley area, which also knocked out the Spanish Valley substation.

A maintenance crew was working on an unrelated area of the power system and had one line out of service, so when the power line went down there was no redundancy line that would have normally been there to continue the service. The cause of the outage is still being investigated.

The electrical power to Castle Valley was initially off for only 10 to 15 minutes, but about 10:15 p.m. our electricity went off again for a short time while workers put the rest of the county back online.

When it came back on the surge of power caused damage to many electrical devices in Castle Valley. Three breakers tripped in our main electrical panel, as well as a ground-fault breaker, and it knocked out a power strip surge protector but caused no damage.

Many others, such as Frank Mendonca in Castleton, had to replace the surge protector device because of damage beyond repair. That surge of power also tripped the equipment in the Frontier Communications phone office in the valley and eventually drained the backup batteries that provide phone service to the valley.

Once it was realized that there was no phone service, town and fire department officials set up a command center at the town hall where residents could come to report an emergency. A Frontier Communications repairman had the phone service restored by mid-day Thursday.

I haven’t heard of a bear problem in Castle Valley this week, but we know they are still out there. Someone took a picture of one in Castle Creek last week while others have reported seeing bear scat and footprints on Rim Shadow, Buchanan and Miller lanes and on other side roads in the valley. But in Castleton two more bears were caught, one in a trap and another in a snare. Within the past three weeks five bears have been caught and relocated from that area.

All of this bear activity must have something to do with the weird weather year we are having. For instance, I can’t remember seeing or smelling a skunk this year although they must be out there, but certainly not in abundance as in past years.

We don’t seem to have as many squirrels as usual, either. The tumbleweeds are really prolific. If we don’t deal with them while they are green we’ll have to deal with them later when they stack up against fences and buildings after they turn brown and start rolling around the valley. One year they stacked up against a fence on the corner of Bailey Lane and Castle Valley Drive and completely blocked Bailey Lane to traffic.

The weather cycle seems to be off about a month this year. The wet and cooler weather last spring extended well into the summer and now when the weather usually starts to cool down, we are still experience 100-plus degree temperatures into September.

Our official weather observer, Bob Russell, said that our weather in August “was like a return of July.” The maximum average temperature was only a drop of 1.2 degrees and precipitation was a mere 0.22-inch. In September, according to Russell, we usually get a drop in temperatures with highs in the mid-80s and lows between 55 and 60 degrees. We usually get around an inch of rain in September. But if the current trend continues it might be a little different this month.

David Earl Hotz, a longtime resident of Castle Valley, died Saturday, Aug. 24 in Moab. He was the son of Nettie Hotz of Grand Junction and the late Earl Hotz. He was 64 years old.

A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at Castle Valley Fire Station Number 1 on the Castleton Road. Everyone is invited to attend the celebration and bring a dish to share for a potluck luncheon and memories of David to share with all of those whose life crossed paths with his.