Downtown stores close in outage Wednesday

By Tim Weideman

Business on Manhattan’s southeast side couldn’t proceed as usual Wednesday afternoon as a power outage forced many stores and service providers to close temporarily.

The outage affected more than 900 customers, Westar Energy reported, including businesses on Poyntz Avenue in the downtown area. Power was lost at about 3:15 p.m. and restored at about 4:10.

Although the outage didn’t last as long as some had feared, it still caused a scramble inside Manhattan Town Center, where stores were shuttering and customers were left wandering and waiting.

Mall manager Allen Raynor said Westar Energy representatives told him the power was cut after a problem at a substation, putting a stop to business.

“Most of (the stores) have kind of shut down,” he said. “They don’t have a way to conduct transactions.”

The Riley County Police Department reported some stoplights were out in the area, too. City employees had set up stop signs at intersections to control traffic.

The Riley County Courthouse was also affected by the outage, but work inside continued.

Though the County Clerk’s office couldn’t perform financial transactions or access digital records, Deputy Clerk Doris Zimmerman said District Judge Sheila Hochhauser wasn’t letting the outage slow down the day’s docket.

“They said she was still in court,” Zimmerman said as she headed downstairs to deliver folders of case files to Hochhauser’s chambers.

The courthouse employees had been told it could be some time before power was restored.

However, before Zimmerman reached the staircase, the lights flickered once, then turned on for good.

“Well, that wasn’t the (estimated) three to four hours, was it?” she said.

Moments later, Westar Energy confirmed that Manhattan customers had power once again.

The downtown area’s hustle and bustle was restored.

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