Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

Commercial scale repairs near finish at transfer station


February 7, 2019

After being damaged by an August 2017 lightning strike, the commercial scale has been repaired and tested for a return to service at the county landfill. The scales were added in 2015 with the new recycling building.

County staff conferred with the original contractor to fix the system that automatically weighs commercial loads and makes a bill.

“We’re almost there, after a year and a half of the lightning strike putting ghosts in our machines,” said Mark Storey, Public Works director.

The strike burned out hardware and software. Public Works conferred with Unitec of Wenatchee and its subcontractor to change both software and hardware at an estimated cost of $20,000-$30,000. The loss was not covered by insurance.

The project went as far as putting in new underground cables.

“We had no idea of the extent of the damage when we first started working on it,” Storey said.

While the commercial scale was down, all vehicles used the residential scale.

“It got super busy again,” Storey said.

Testing continues now for a full re-opening expected this week.

“All the pieces are talking to each other,” Storey said.

The computer system works off a radio frequency in the key of the commercial truck which registers its identity and vehicle weight. The computerized scale then subtracts the weight from the total load, giving the weight of the dumping.

This ability was new with the new commercial scale.

On the early Saturday morning that lightning hit, David Nails, County Solid Waste Operations Manager, arrived to cover a shift and found that three of the four scales were out. An older, non-digital one in the residential section still worked.

Readerboards were also down along with computers, docking stations, a printer and internet routers.

Unitec, has a contract with the site for certification. They installed the scales at the new transfer site four years ago.

Unitec arrived in Colfax two days after the strike and got the scales working, except for the commercial one.

The incident is believed to be the first time a lightning strike affected the waste transfer site.


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