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Students without heat in Belk and North dorms

By Lesley Covington
Around Campus Writer

The women in Belk and North Halls felt a decided chill from Jan. 21 to Jan. 23. An equipment malfunction caused both dormitories to lose heat simultaneously.

“At 4 p.m. Jan. 21, the calls started coming in,” said Larry Freeman, director of the physical plant.

Terry McNish with the Physical Plant shows the control panel that malfunctioned in Belk Hall which resulted in the loss of heat to Belk and North Halls.

Photo by Lesley Covington
Terry McNish with the Physical Plant shows the control panel that malfunctioned in Belk Hall which resulted in the loss of heat to Belk and North Halls.

The water’s heat was restored quickly, but it took longer to repair the buildings’ heating system.

“They were able that night to get water back up through a back-up system,” said Dean Swiney, director of housing and residence life.

The water is in Belk Hall and connected to North Hall underground, Freeman said.

“It’s the only boiler between the two buildings,” he said.

Freeman said a failure with the controller in Belk Hall caused the loss of heat in both dormitories.

“It was a brand new controller, but something went wrong with the programming,” he said. “It’s kind of like losing a hard-drive on a computer.”

A replacement part was delivered from out of state, according to Freeman.

“It was 12:30 p.m. Jan. 23 when we got it back online,” he said.

“They were talking about putting people in lounges,” Resident Assistant Christian Felkl said. “I know they did in West.”

“We had an emergency meeting with residents of North and Belk,” said Cynthia Redfearn, associate director of residence life.

There was initially an all-call over the intercom system to rally the residents, according to Redfearn.

“We at that point offered to any residents in North and Belk rooms in other facilities,” she said.

About half a dozen students took the residence life staff up on their offer of rooms in Village, according to Redfearn.

“Coffee and hot chocolate was provided through the cafeteria,” Swiney said.

Redfearn said the residential life staff tried to create warm zones and confirmed that coffee and cocoa were provided for students.

She said that Pine Hall’s large multi-purpose room and West’s huge lounge were ready for students.

“It wouldn’t be bed space,” she said.

The lounge areas would be adequate temporarily, according to Redfearn.

“We were prepared with a contingency plan using the University Center,” Redfearn said. “It did not become necessary.”

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Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2007
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