Despite concerns about wind blowing dust from the Capital Plaza Tower’s implosion downtown, the event went off without a hitch, according to officials.
From the command post, located between the ceremonial stage and the tower, first responders and emergency management constantly shooed away people who lacked credentials for the 700-foot exclusion zone.
“That’s really been our only problem,” said Tom Russell, Frankfort emergency management director, between handling two, constantly squawking radios. “Other than that, everything went off like it was supposed to.”
Joe Sullivan, of the National Weather Service, was hunkered down in the City of Frankfort’s mobile command center, observing data from a weather station he placed atop the Capital Plaza Hotel.
“I’m monitoring the wind,” he said, pointing to a computer model with a yellow circle showing where dust from the 1:30 p.m. implosion would settle. “It’s actually projected just as we thought.”
Fortunately, the wind, which was out of the northeast, was only about 5-10 mph during the implosion. Forecasts late last week had predicted winds up to 20 mph.
Sullivan said extremely variable winds, such as those on Sunday afternoon, can make it difficult to forecast which way the wind will carry the concrete dust.
The Frankfort Police Department had more than 30 officers working traffic detail and sealing off the exclusion zone.
After the implosion, the area around the tower rubble was shut down for about 20 minutes while the dust cleared. Streets in the area also closed before the implosion.
Street sweepers were out in force on Wilkinson Boulevard within 15 minutes of the implosion.
Because streets were closed for a period after the implosion, the crowds of people and cars parked in the downtown area formed lines of traffic not usually seen in downtown Frankfort. Cars streaming into Frankfort before the implosion also caused traffic delays.
Initially, law enforcement officers were worried that teachers from Franklin County Schools, who protested public pension reform near an area where Gov. Matt Bevin spoke, would cause a ruckus during planned remarks by state and local officials.
That did not occur.
Instead, the handful of teachers used handmade signs to make their voices heard.
“I organized this because the news media are here and the governor will speak,” said Adam Hyatt, a social studies teacher at Franklin County High School. “It’s a great opportunity to get our message out to a wider audience.”
Hyatt, along with Western Hills special education teacher Sierra Kiser, Elkhorn Elementary math teacher Jeff Eddy and FCS parent resource coordinator Tammy Baker, stood on the corner of Mero and Ann streets holding a sign reading, “Implode SB1 Protect Public Pension.”
Police spokesman Chris Quire said there were no problems reported before, during or directly after the implosion.
“That was one of the most awesome things I have ever seen,” said a jubilant Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells. “Everything was coordinated perfectly.”