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Johnmeyer Construction

Television Commercials: Telephone (1970)
Three TV commercials; one set in St. Louis, Missouri, another on Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and a quick review of telephone history.

Dad and Uncle Julius started in 1938 clearing right-of-way, setting poles, and stringing wire. When Dad came back from WWII he started operating as Hillard E. Johnmeyer, Contractor and continued until his recall for Korea. After Korea he picked back up and incorporated in 1956 as Johnmeyer Construction Co., Inc. I left Dad's company in 1976 and incorporated Johnmeyer Construction Services, Inc. becoming JCS Group, Inc. in 1996.

The 21st Century made an early arrival in Oklahoma with the completion of a distance learning project at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Through the use of fiber optics, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, the 500-student university in Weatherford chose a fiber network to enable its Tele-Learning Center to handle full-motion interactive video, audio and data communications with its affiliate campus 60 miles west at its sister campus at Sayre, who can now share resources and make classes available to students at both locations.

Optical fiber was not considered initially since it was almost nonexistent in that part of the state-until Dobson installed a 245-mile fiber backbone from Oklahoma City to Amarillo, Texas. Part of this backbone passed Weatherford and Sayre. For the university project, two fiber spurs were constructed from the backbone network.

Dobson Fiber Company, as a fiber-based facilities provider between Oklahoma City and Amarillo, with strong ties to western Oklahoma. Dobson Fiber Company and AT&T Network Systems entered into a partnership on this project. Each party would play a specific role. Dobson Fiber Company would be responsible for the fiber construction from its backbone facility to each campus, the design and deployment of the classroom equipment, and the ongoing network maintenance.

With the selection of the AT&T/Dobson solution, the University received a fiber network from campus to campus. As a result, both campus libraries share resources and all voice traffic between the two sites is transported over the fiber network, eliminating toll charges previously incurred by the University.

Construction of the network began in August. 1993. From the fiber backbone, there was approximately two miles of construction at Sayre and three miles at Weatherford. Sayre was the least difficult of the two spurs in constucting. By using private right-of-way, the fiber was placed using the direct bury method. Total construction time was approximately two weeks and there were no significant problems encountered. The construction at Weatherford presented the typical problems of placing fiber in an urban environment.

While construction progressed towards the campus, H.E. Johnmeyer came up with an alternative to placing the fiber in the right-of-way along the city streets. He proposed that the fiber be placed in the storm sewer running down the middle of the street, the length being approximately 3500 feet in this medium. Dobson never had used storm sewers for this purpose but found the idea practical. Aerial installation was ruled out; cable strung between poles was vulnerable to ice storms, car accidents or vandalism. The storm sewer was the only existing path not requiring additional construction. When officials at Southwestern Oklahoma State University approached Dobson Fiber to upgrade campus communications to optical fiber, little did anyone suspect storm sewers would play a major role in the installation.

The storm sewer crossed directly through the heart of Weatherford's business district to the campus. The storm sewer, on the average, was sixty inches in diameter and made of ribbed steel. Built within the last 25 years, Weatherford storm sewers were made of steel and in excellent condition. The selected section was less than five years old. Surprisingly, little debris and standing water had accumulated on the tunnel's bottom. Nor was there much evidence of rodent infestation. Another plus: the storm sewer's ribbed construction could provide a handy slot for fitting and securing the cable.

Installing cable in the storm sewer would avoid construction costs and disruptions to traffic and work schedules. Possible backhoe fade also would be eliminated. Should the cable fail, it easily could be cut at both ends, removed and replaced with new fiber-without any extra construction.

Next question: How to secure the cable? Hanging it from the sewer's top or sides was considered, but with space limited, engineers feared anyone entering the sewer could be injured. Also, steel grating had been installed across the street at various points above the drain, exposing the cable to possible vandalism.

Instead, the cable was placed within a 1.25" corrugated duct and secured to the storm sewer's bottom center. Corrugated duct fit better into existing tunnel ribbing, decreasing the chance of random movement. Cable was fastened every 20 feet to the steel drain with BM-80 straps, or clamps. These were secured by a low-velocity, power-actuated gun that fired pin fasteners through the clamps into the tunnel.

The innerduct was installed first. An installer walked through the storm sewer with a pull cord attached to one end of the duct. moving the duct through the tunnel and into the ribbed groove. The duct was pulled in two separate 1600-foot lengths to provide an easy pull for the entire length (3373 feet). Fiber then was attached to the pull cord and pulled through the duct. The two sections of duct were joined to create one continuous length. It is expected that over time the duct will be covered with a layer of silt, which should provide additional stabilization.

Installers were equipped with head-mounted and handheld flashlights. Safety equipment monitored the tunnel for toxic or combustible gases. A gas blower used at ground level from one manhole to the next moved fresh air into the tunnel. In addition, installers carried a sensor to detect harmful levels of gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. The precaution paid off - the sensor indicated toxic gases both installation days.

A third safety measure: installers carried oxygen tanks, masks and kits. The tank could supply an hour of oxygen. and the kit provided another five minutes for any recovery needs. These two units will be used during future maintenance inspections. Although only one person worked within the storm sewer at a time, at least one person was stationed at each open manhole above the installer.

At the installation's end, metal storm sewer material was cut away from the storm sewer exit, allowing the inner cable duct to be routed securely into a direct burial application to the university campus. (The cable exit opening will be covered with a hinged grate lid to prevent entry by humans or animals.)

After exiting the storm sewer, the cable was buried along a sidewalk near the university and across a campus lawn into the library basement, where the Tele-Learning Center is located. The entire installation, including end terminations, took three days.

The fiber network eventually will link the school with Oklahoma City, junior colleges, high schools and vocational technical schools across western Oklahoma. The Tele-Learning Center has 25 computers to search library databases and handle applications such as distance learning between Weatherford and Sayre.

This installation did not save money. While using the storm sewer avoided construction costs of conventional cable burial, savings were offset by extra costs of safety equipment, installing and fastening innerduct and the special cutting work required at the storm sewer entrance and exit.

Weatherford residents, however, enjoyed one positive side effect: They were spared inconvenient construction delays in one of the city's busiest sections. The project was completed in October, 1993. The University began using the system during spring semester and currently it is in use 8 hours each day. While everyone is happy with the system, the University views this as the first step in providing distance learning in western Oklahoma.

Fiber-based Distance Learning in Oklahoma. Sending fiber down the drain. America's Network. July 15, 1994.

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