On October 16, it was discovered that gas was not coming into the kitchen. This affected the kitchen staff and the menu as there was no gas to cook with.
ASL has a building management software that turns the gas supply on and off when it is not needed. At first, Mr. Jim Heynderickx, director of operations at ASL, thought that this software had turned off the gas due to October Break. However, after spending an hour investigating the solenoids, a type of electromagnet, that turns on and off through the building management system, the ASL maintenance team realized this was not the problem; instead, there was no gas coming through from the street or gas meter.
ASL contacted Cadent, the company that ASL buys its gas from, who sent out the contractors. Since Cadent is in control of all the lines around ASL, the contractors had to find out why the line was blocked in the street. After investigation, they found that the other side of the street on Vera Court had new plastic piping. However, the cross connect from across the street into ASL’s building had the old metal pipe from 1971 when the school first opened. This metal piping had grown old and had become clogged, so they had to replace it.
Since the contractors wanted to replace the whole section in order to change to plastic piping, they had to dig up the street, closing it to traffic from October 17 until October 25. After doing so, they put in a plastic line, a new valve, and connected it to the gas meter, which started working a couple days later.
On October 25 the construction was finished, and they began filling in the trench and covering it with asphalt. Waverley Place then but other vehicles were not. Mr. Jim Heynderickx, director of operations, explained how this was not much of a problem for the bus drivers since it went on for a short amount of time, but it was more of a problem for other vehicles.
“I think the main inconvenience may have been for families who drive to campus because they couldn’t come up Waverley, and Loudoun could get quite crowded, but I haven’t heard anything back from drivers,” Mr. Heynderickx said.
The school put a pop-up on the ASL website to let parents know about the situation so they could change their plans if they normally drive to school.
The big inconvenience was for the kitchen staff. When the staff arrived at ASL early in the morning on October 16 with no gas, they thought the gas would come on soon when the valves were turned on. However, when they found out that the problem was from the street at 10 in the morning, they had to adapt quickly. That first day, the menu comprised of mostly cold food, as well as paninis and grilled cheese.
Ms. Christine Kent, the catering manager, said, “On the first day, the only pieces of equipment we had to cook from were the panini grill, the microwave, and the steamer.”
On October 17, the staff set up a gas grill and barbequed burgers in the courtyard outside the Commons. Then, on October 18, they rented a gas grill to barbeque chicken outside.
Mr. Heynderickx explained that the kitchen staff adapted well until they got their gas back next October 21.“They did a really good job of being flexible and dynamic and setting up the barbeques, thinking on their feet, and getting through the problem until the gas was restored.”
In terms of the change in lunches, many students enjoyed the grilled food and hoped that it could happen more often. However, when they did the grills, it created a large amount of smoke that went up the side of the building, and some of this smoke went into the building. Additionally, the kitchen staff had to be very carefully that this did not accidentally set off the smoke alarms.