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St. Lawrence Gas celebrates anniversary with open house

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MASSENA - Several St. Lawrence Gas retirees were on hand with current employees and guests Friday when Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas wrapped up its 50th anniversary celebration with an open house at their Massena office.

Among the retirees who took part in the dedication of Valve A, the original valve where the majority of the company’s gas flowed from 1962 to 2011, were Richard Charleston, Nathan Adams and Bert Beswick.

Mr. Charleston retired 14 yeas ago after 36 years of service with St. Lawrence Gas. Mr. Adams retired 19 years ago after 31 years with the company. Mr. Beswick, who retired in 1983, was with St. Lawrence Gas for 22 years.

“I started in September 1962. I worked in Ogdensburg as a service representative,” Mr. Adams said.

Among his duties was to work on rentals of item such as water heaters and unit heaters.

“I was a serviceman all 31 years. We gave 24-hour service. If anything happened with gas we worked on it, all makes and models,” Mr. Adams said.

Mr. Beswick was in sales during his career at St. Lawrence Gas. It involved “rapping on doors” in the Canton and Potsdam area to sell the company’s services. He then spent 10 years in Ogdensburg.

“They made me sales manager,” he said, noting he was later named customer service manager.

“We had a great product to sell. We would put a gas line in at no charge,” Mr. Beswick said.

The rental cost for a hot water heater at the time was $9 a month, he said.

“It was $2.50 when I started,” Mr. Adams said.

Among the changes the company has seen over the years, the men said, is the use of electronic ignitions on natural gas products and, at one point, a lack of natural gas.

“In the 70s they cut us off,” Mr. Adams said. “They said they didn’t have any natural gas.”

Friday’s open house gave the retirees, employees and visitors an opportunity to learn about today’s Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas, which recently started its expansion into Franklin County. Forty-eight miles of gas lines are being installed between Norfolk in St. Lawrence County and Chateaugay in Franklin County. The project kicked off in August.

Employees were on hand to talk about and give demonstrations on the process of laying gas lines and finding them after they were in the ground. Although the company maintains maps of the pipe locations, sensor equipment also allows them to pinpoint the spots, which are marked off in yellow to let others know their location.

Hot dogs were served up on the grill and “Belly Buttons the Clown” was also on hand to create balloon animals and paint faces.

In addition, visitors could take a tour of the Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas facilities, meet the staff and learn about equipment rental and services.

Company officials also dedicated Valve A, “the original valve where the majority of our gas flowed through from 1962 right up until last year,” Assistant General Manager James P. Ward said.

“We had to retire it last year as a part of some other work we were doing. We said this is a good symbol of what St. Lawrence Gas has meant since 1962,” he said.

Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas was incorporated in 1957 and served its first natural gas customer in 1962. With assets of more than $40 million, the company provides natural gas to approximately 14,000 residential customers, 1,700 commercial customers and 24 industrial customers.

As a regulated public utility, in the business of selling and transporting natural gas to its customers, the company provides service to the cities, towns and villages of Beaver Falls, Canton, Croghan, Gouverneur, Heuvelton, Lisbon, Madrid, Massena, New Bremen, Norfolk, Norwood, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, Raymondville and Waddington.

They have 46 employees at their headquarters in Massena and satellite office in Ogdensburg.

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