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News and Notices

Curbing wire theft in Auburn

Green River Community College students get hands on experience

The City of Auburn and Green River Community College have teamed up to fight the growing problem of copper wire theft in the city. "Thieves were stripping our street light junction boxes costing the city thousands of dollars to repair," said Mayor Pete Lewis. "We've looked at several options to help prevent the thefts and came up with an idea that utilizes Green River Community College's commercial welding program."

The thieves were opening junction boxes, cutting the splices and pulling out wire from box to box. Each junction contains three wires that run about 100-150 feet through an underground conduit to the next junction box. College students and Public Works mentors are welding the boxes shut to deter further theft. In one week the students welded 1,117 junction boxes. There are approximately 3,500 to 4,500 junction boxes across the city and the students will be working to secure all of them in the next three to five weeks.

The program began in early October according to David Ornsbey, Auburn Street/Vegetation Manager. "We've agreed to a week on, week off schedule to give our employees time to do other city projects and to allow students to fulfill their classroom obligations," said Ornsbey.

Scott Schreiber, who heads the welding program at Green River Community College, says the opportunity for students to work side-by-side with city crews is invaluable. "This is the first time field mentorships have been offered," Schreiber said. "The experience is something we can't duplicate in the classroom and we greatly appreciate the partnership with the City of Auburn."

Mayor Lewis calls it a win-win situation. "This is a wonderful example of the city working together with outside organizations to solve a community problem," he said. "We're glad to share our expertise with Green River Community College."

For additional information, contact:
Glenda Carino, Public Affairs & Marketing Manager, (253) 876-1976 or cell: 253 561-1618, gcarino@auburnwa.gov.