Fear not--traditional holiday lights will go on in Frankford

After some concern over whether the Christmas lighting in Frankford would be up on the electrical poles in time for this holiday season, town officials have confirmed they will. The lights are scheduled to be turned on Thanksgiving night, as they are each year.

Town Clerk Terry Truitt had expressed some concern because a project to swap out some older Delmarva Power-owned poles in town for newer ones that started this summer had not yet been completed by early November, thereby affecting the Christmas decoration wiring.

“When the questions were raised with regards to the Christmas lighting drops along that street at various poles, I was told that they were only changing out the old poles and would restore the surrounding area by the crew chiefs on site.

“I placed a call to [Delmarva Power] in early September on the standing of the project and any assurance on the existing holiday lighting,” Truitt explained. “[Their] reply was that they would have to look into it and get back with me. I called again early October and left a voicemail, with no return call made. They left Frankford Avenue stripped of all the Christmas wiring — even had brackets which held them up taken down and placed at the foot of the poles.”

Truitt said there was little work done on the poles along Frankford Avenue in September and October “with most poles having now twins side by side, broken up sidewalks, stubbed/capped-off poles, etc.”

Council President Jesse Truitt said he had placed another call to Delmarva Power in late October and was told he would get a call back. And then, last week, Terry Truitt said, she was told by Delmarva Power workers that the town could lose their lighting.

Not wanting the town to lose their longstanding tradition of Christmas lighting, Truitt said she continued her calls with Delmarva Power, and eventually things were cleared up. Wiring was restored on Monday, Nov. 12, and on Tuesday, Nov. 13, and Frankford’s electrical contractor starting hanging the lights.

“There has always been some type of holiday lighting along the streets of Frankford. I can recall lines of lights fed from one side of the street to another, in multiple shades of bulbs down multiple poles of several streets,” said Terry Truitt. “Along the years, the Town upgraded to large candles with garland; then, as they aged, the garland was removed to the point they no longer could be used. The Town, along the years, invested in new lighting, which offers many characters poignant to the season,” she said.

Matt Likovich, spokesperson for Delmarva Power explained that the company is doing “reliability improvement work in the Frankford and Selbyville areas.” He said some of that work involved replacement of old, aging wooden poles with newer ones, as was done along Frankford Avenue.

One of Terry Truitt’s concerns was that the Christmas lighting restoration that Delmarva Power accomplished this past week was a “quick-fix,” and that she believed they have a policy of discouraging Christmas lighting on their poles, so the issue might not really be settled.

When asked if the company’s discourages Christmas lighting, Likovich explained that “Delmarva Power allows towns to temporarily attach Christmas lighting to poles during the holiday season. Typically, the wiring stays up all year, but just the decorations are taken down after the holidays.”

Of the notion that Delmarva Power simply removed the wiring along with the old poles because of a policy discouraging Christmas decorations in towns, Likovich said that was not the intent and reiterated that they have, in fact, re-attached the Christmas wiring. While they do allow Christmas decorations during the holidays and the wiring to stay up all year, they always have safety and electrical reliability to think about first, he said.

Likovich said that, while sometimes third-party attachments end up on their poles without the company’s knowledge, they attempt to track the attachments and need to secure a “joint-use agreement” to verify a temporary attachment.

“This is done for safety and reliability reasons. For example, Delmarva Power does not allow banners that span from one pole to another or across a street. A number of years ago, wind ensnared a banner that spanned across the street and the banner came into contact with the primary electric wires atop the pole, causing a fire and an outage.”

Additionally, Terry Truitt explained this week that the Town had been under the impression that Delmarva Power was simply going to swap out “a few poles,” not most of the poles all along Frankford Avenue, and she said she was disappointed in the whole “breakdown of communication” regarding the project.

“While I acknowledge they restored the holiday lighting that was there, it was a ‘close miss,’ said Truitt. “We were not given a heads-up with concerns with holiday lighting, and it was a just a breakdown of communication.”

“And I am not saying we didn’t need an upgrade,” acknowledged Truitt of the poles. “But if they said from the beginning it would be two to three months out...”

Likovich acknowledged that Delmarva Power could have done a better job of communicating with the Town.

“Prior to performing reliability upgrades in a municipality, Delmarva Power reaches out to the local jurisdiction to describe the scope of work, timeline and streets affected. In this case, it was simply an oversight that we did not reach out to them prior to the work.

“We have a fairly rigorous reliability upgrade schedule, with multiple projects going on in lower Delaware. We apologize for not reaching out to them first, like we typically do. With any future reliability upgrades in Frankford, we will certainly notify them first.”