Caffeine habit leads to $200K in damage at St. Louis college

Community colleges may hold the promise for a brighter future, according to President Obama, but officials in St. Louis, Mo., likely wish the dimwit who left a coffeemaker running overnight causing $200,000 in damage at a campus there would have thought twice before calling it an evening.

Insurance is expected to cover about half of the damage caused at St. Louis Community College by the waterlogged coffee maker, which reportedly leaked an estimated 10,000 gallons of water onto four flours of the college's Forest Park facility, destroying 115 computers and damaging furnishings.

School officials must still pony up a $25,000 deductible and also pay $54,000 for costs including overtime labor, supplies, air quality inspections, furniture, drywall and ceiling materials. The college's Board of Trustees is expected to approve a $143,494 contract with catastrophic damage-repair company Catco at a meeting next week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday.

New guidelines prohibit coffeemakers that don't have an automatic shut-off feature, unlike the one left on in the campus' photo lab last summer that ruptured a water line and led to the damage.

"We made it clear that you can have your coffee," campus interim-president Zerrie Campbell told the newspaper. "But only with coffee makers that have automatic turn-offs." The new rules also prohibit other appliances that are hot to the touch, such as toasters, space heaters and mug warmers. Candles, incense burners and plug-in air fresheners are also banned.

Fliers were circulated reminding employees that if they must buy a new coffeemaker to meet the new requirement the money to do so must come from their own funds -- not those of the college.

The coffeemaker in question was connected to a faucet via a plastic tube, Campbell said. She declined comment on whether anyone had been disciplined as a result, the Post-Dispatch reported.
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