Fiber optics cut disrupts courthouse

A construction crew who cut a fiber optic cable disrupted Bartholomew County government for a few hours Monday afternoon.

Telephone service was disrupted at most downtown county facilities including the Bartholomew County Courthouse, the county jail and sheriff’s department, the county governmental office building, and the Court Services building, Bartholomew County commissioner Carl Lienhoop said.

In the courthouse, the lack of fiber optic lines for computers prompted Bartholomew Circuit Court, Superior Court 1 and the office of the county clerk to close, according to one courthouse employee.

Shortly after noon, an accidental partial cut to a fiber optic line was made by a member of a construction crew at Third and California streets, “although we still don’t know who,” Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

Several technicians were sent to the site where the line was cut, including Smithville Fiber of Bloomington representatives, the company providing the county’s fiber optic service, Lienhoop said.

The cut placed the county into what’s known as a failover mode, Kleinhenz said. That means the county automatically switched to a redundant or standby computer system without any human intervention.

While the automatic failover did ensure the most essential information technology systems continued to function properly, the partial cut did disrupt service to a number of telephones and computers, Kleinhenz said.

The damage was fully repaired at 2:14 p.m. Monday — just a little over two hours after the problem began, Kleinhenz said.

Lienhoop said it’s his understanding that another fiber optics company was working in that same area of California Street for the past few weeks. However, he emphasized he doesn’t know if a member of that firm’s crew was responsible for Monday’s disruption.

Since some courthouse offices sent their workers home while others did not, Kleinhenz said a discussion will likely take place to determine a uniform procedure if a similar incident occurs in the future.