January 21, 2010

Otter Tail says no to city signs

By Alyssa Schafer, Editor

Utility poles provide a convenient place to post city signs, but Washburn officials might have to rethink their signage habits. Otter Tail Power Company representatives estimate there are 55 utility poles in Washburn that have one sign attached and about 20 more that have more than one sign attached. While he understands the city posts signs on the poles to save money, Otter Tail Power Company Operations Manager Ron Montonye said it is an unacceptable risk to his employees. Otter Tail workers often climb utility poles for routine maintenance, repairs or service calls. "The use of our poles for signs, especially those fabricated from steel or metal, are a cause of serious concern for the safety of our employees," Montonye said in a letter addressed to Washburn city commissioners Jan. 4. If there is a sign mounted on a utility pole, a worker would have to climb around or over the sign. Then, there is also a risk of the employee falling off the pole onto the attached sign. "There’s no question that it’s a safety issue," Washburn City Commissioner Kim Klaudt said.

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