Gas service returns

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; With a lot of help from its friends, the town of Vidalia slowly began to get its collective pilot light lit Friday.

Nineteen two-person crews, composed of town employees from many departments and workers on loan from Atmos Energy and the town of Jonesville, roamed the streets well into the night Friday, starting meters and re-firing water heaters in an effort to allow every customer the opportunity for a hot shower before Sunday dinner.

&8220;Anybody we don&8217;t get turned on tonight, we&8217;ll be out bright and early tomorrow,&8221; Steve Rogillio said.

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An employee of the town&8217;s machine shop, Rogillio admitted he was no expert, but his partner, an Atmos Energy crew foreman from Pineville, was.

&8220;Every team has one professional on it; I follow his lead,&8221; he said.

Vidalia Utilities Supervisor Mark Morace said the help his department got from crews in Jonesville, Natchez, Monroe, Pineville and Delhi allowed them to get the work knocked out.

&8220;We&8217;re rolling, it&8217;s just going to take a little time,&8221; he said.

His counterpart in Jonesville, Sam Nichols, said he was only too happy to send four men over to help.

After all, Jonesville acts as its own gas company also, and he knows next time the roles could be reversed.

&8220;I feel like one day we may have to have help,&8221; he said. &8220;You scratch my back, I&8217;ll scratch yours.&8221;

And while no one enjoyed not having gas for these few days, residents can rest easy knowing that, when it is turned on, they can consider their line leak-free.

&8220;When we turn the meter on, we check to make sure there&8217;s no leak before we light the pilot,&8221; Rogillio&8217;s partner from Atmos said. &8220;This assures safety at the same time.&8221;

Patricia Moore said she was very happy to see the pair come in her front gate.

While she hadn&8217;t minded the excuse to eat out, she said she was &8220;looking forward to getting some hot water.&8221;

Jeremy Walsworth had made sure someone was home all day, but no one came to turn his gas on by the middle of the afternoon.

He said after mowing lawns all day that he was looking forward to a warm shower but could wait if he had to.

&8220;I&8217;m a survivor, I can do just about anything,&8221; he said.

Part of the hardship he has endured heretofore, he said, included eating regularly at La Fiesta in Natchez.

Like any good captain, Morace said he would go down with the ship.

&8220;Mine&8217;s still off, but I&8217;ll probably be here anyway until everything&8217;s back to normal.&8221;