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July 28, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Court hearings off, slots on during power outage

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Steve Marcus

Due to a power outage in downtown Las Vegas, security at the Regional Justice Center were not able to allow people in Thursday, May 2, 2013.

Updated Thursday, May 2, 2013 | 4:12 p.m.

Downtown Power Outage

People are seen walking in the dark lobby of the Las Vegas Regional Justice Center during an afternoon power outage, Thursday, May 2, 2013. Launch slideshow »

A nearly hour-long power outage left portions of downtown, including some government buildings and at least two major casinos, in the dark Thursday afternoon.

Buildings without power were reported as far south as Main Street and Garces Avenue to as far north as Fremont and North Fourth Streets. NV Energy spokesperson Mark Severts said the outage occurred about 2 p.m., affecting an estimated 480 customers. Power was restored about 2:50 p.m.

Among buildings without power were Las Vegas City Hall, Clark County Government Building, Regional Justice Center and the Clark County Detention Center.

The outage engulfed parts of the Fremont Street Experience, which was preternaturally quiet. Loudspeakers positioned high over the walkway that usually pump out music were quiet.

Security guards would not let customers into the D, citing the outage. Inside it looked like ceiling lights were out but the lights of slot machines continued blinking and beckoning.

The Four Queens was dark almost throughout, though a few banks of slot machines remained lit. All the machines appeared lit in the Golden Nugget.

On the street and in the casinos, it appeared people were talking to each other more than usual at the bars, where table-top poker machines were idle, and at the slots.

“What a beautiful day to have off!” said one man, walking toward the Golden Nugget with a swagger. “Where my boys? Where my boys?”

Power in buildings on Fremont Street east of Las Vegas Boulevard did not appear to be affected.

Erik Pappa, Clark County spokesman, said employees in the Clark County Government Building tried to work through the outage.

"We were operating on generators, which meant we had limited lighting and phones but no computers. Efficiency was clearly affected. … At the counters, they took care of customer needs, accepting and processing documents manually."

The inability to use computers meant clerks couldn't post transactions for parking tickets and sewer bill, but "they were taking payments and giving handwritten receipts, so there was really no impact on customers at City Hall." spokesman Jace Radke said.

The outage interrupted trials and court hearings at the Regional Justice Center. "We are closed to non-essential business," said Mary Ann Price, Clark County courts spokeswoman. "Trials that are underway with persons already in the building will continue.

Otherwise, only employees and those with security badges will be granted access."

Tim Szymanski, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, said the department received two calls involving people caught in elevators but said they were out with no problems.

Severts said the cause of the outage was not immediately known.

Sun photo coordinator Yasmina Chavez and Sun staff writer Conor Shine contributed to this report.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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