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story.lead_photo.caption Blair Oaks Superintendent Jim Jones addresses patrons at a school district public meeting July 19, 2018. Photo by News Tribune file photo

Blair Oaks R-2 school district's Superintendent Jim Jones credited the positive attitude of staff and students Monday in dealing with a power outage at the district's elementary school caused by worn wires on an electrical pole.

The outage to Blair Oaks Elementary School began at 6:32 a.m., according to Ameren Missouri's online outage map, which also described the cause as "wire damage."

Jones said Blair Oaks' high school and middle school had full power — adding the high school is also serviced by Ameren and the middle school by Three Rivers Electric Cooperative — and all students were dismissed at the end of the day at the normal time.

"It's about as normal as a day as you can have," given the abnormal things that happened, Jones said after the power was back on — restored as of about 1o a.m.

The elementary school was the only customer affected in that area, based on what the News Tribune saw on Ameren's outage map. A separate outage the News Tribune observed on the map on the west side of Jefferson City that affected a few customers was also restored.

Jones said the district's maintenance director noticed in the morning that some lights were not coming on at all, fully or as bright as usual.

Jones announced on Twitter at 7:31 a.m. that the elementary school was operating with partial power. "One leg of the three-phase power is inoperable. Ameren is en route," he wrote. He told the News Tribune that Rehagen Electrical Contracting, Inc. was also consulted.

"What usually causes this is a squirrel. This time it wasn't a squirrel," Jones told the News Tribune. He added the indications from workers on site were that normal wear led to the outage.

"They said the wear had taken one leg out, but the other two were starting to wear as well," Jones said of what the workers determined after inspecting an electrical pole. The power routed by the pole goes underground to a transformer, but Jones added the issue was above ground.

A tweet from fourth-grade teacher Sheri Holland at 8:54 a.m. showed students smiling at her in a dark room with some natural light coming in. "When the power is out you improvise! Enjoyed some extra read aloud time with our current read, The City of Ember! The kids truly experienced the darkness of Ember," Holland wrote.

"The City of Ember" is the first title in a post-apocalyptic children's book series by Jeanne DuPrau — about an underground city built as a last refuge for the human race, but "the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker," according to the first book's description on Amazon.

Jones said the main hub for the district's phone system is located in the elementary school — so no power there meant phones throughout the whole district were temporarily down, and Jones encouraged parents to use email to contact the school if they needed to at the time.

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At 8:21 a.m., Jones tweeted that students in kindergarten and first grade were moving to Blair Oaks Middle School, and students in second through fourth grade were moving to Blair Oaks High School.

Power to the district's phones was restored by 9:35 a.m., according to a tweet from Jones. He later said multiple extension cords were run into the phone system from a maintenance shed that still had power.

Even though the first lunch period at the elementary school — for kindergartners — begins at 10:45 a.m. and power was fully restored to the building by about 10 a.m., Jones said the elementary school kitchen staff joined their colleagues at the other school buildings to serve the elementary students who still ate Monday at the middle school or high school.

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