SRJC’s Newman Auditorium goes dark

  • Campus electricians Erik Oden, left, and Scott Reese try to troubleshoot an electrical problem in Emeritus Hall at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, on Monday, August 4, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

The show did not go on.

Just as the Thursday evening performance of “The Odd Couple” was beginning at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Newman Auditorium, the lights went dark — and not for dramatic effect.

An electrical breaker had tripped, SRJC officials say, cutting off power to Emeritus Hall — home to the roughly 200-seat auditorium — and causing the performance to be canceled.

Starting Friday morning, the school began working with an electrical contractor to fix the problem, but without a solution by Saturday night, the school’s Summer Repertory Theatre was forced to cancel the remaining summer shows in the auditorium, including four performances of “Present Laughter” and two of “The Odd Couple.”

Efforts to restore power to the building continued through Monday, as school officials raced to correct the problem before school starts in two weeks.

“We are working diligently to restore electricity this week prior to folks returning next week and classes starting again (the following week),” said SRJC spokeswoman Ellen Maremont Silver.

It’s taking a while to pinpoint the source of the problem because of the age and complexity of the building’s power system, said Tony Ichsan, dean of facilities, planning and operations. Electricians are having to test the system, circuit by circuit, to find which one is the problem. There’s about two dozen circuit panels to inspect. Then they’ll have to diagnose what’s causing that circuit to fail and fix it. Meanwhile, the college is preparing to order a new circuit breaker and transformer in case either of those items are part of the problem.

Even if they’re not, it’s a good time to replace them, Ichsan said. He didn’t yet know how much that would cost.

Emeritus Hall, built in 1978, is running on its original power system, he said. It’s also one of the most heavily used buildings on campus. Newman is a popular lecture hall and most of the college’s language classes and social science classes are held there.

It’s in need of electrical and other upgrades and is one of the “key examples” the college is using as it promotes the passage of a bond measure that would raise $410 million for facility and technology upgrades, Ichsan said.

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