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by Troy Graham
Pat Wright has been on the payroll at Hope Gas for 77 of the company's 100 years.
Well, sort of. As a child, Wright explained, he was dependent on a Hope paycheck because his father worked there. Now, the former president of Hope, is a retiree of the company.
"I just want you to know that I've enjoyed every one of those years, and I hope we have many more," Wright said, during the centennial celebration for Hope Gas and CNG Transmission Corp.
Former and current employees gathered in the CNG Transmission Courtyard in downtown Clarksburg Thursday to celebrate the first 100 years for two of Harrison County's oldest and largest employers.
As CNG Transmission President Ron Adams pointed out, it is a rare feat for a company to last 100 years.
"In 100 years I think of success and survival. Not many companies have been around this long," he said. "CNG and Hope are here. It's a historic milestone and it's unique."
It was an event that brought out Harold Davis, who began working for Hope in Pittsburgh as a messenger in 1938. It also brought out Stewart Walker, who retired from the company 11 years ago and moved to Florida. He said he was surprised to see so many familiar faces.
"I figured at our age you'd find less and less each year," he said.
Union officials and management even set aside their contract dispute for the celebration. The contract for CNG workers expires on Oct. 1. But on Thursday there was no mention of the on-going negotiations.
Union President Charlie Rittenhouse sat alongside management and spoke glowingly of the people he's worked with for the last 26 years.
"I've seen a lot of people, and the one thing we have to keep in mind is the employees of CNG and Hope are special," he said. "Sometimes we forget this company was built with these hands and these minds."
After the ceremony, Rittenhouse said it was worth setting aside the talks for the day of celebration.
"These people, they deserve it," he said. "There's no reason to rain on their party."
As offspring of Standard Oil, the former fuel giant that was dissolved by the federal government, Hope and CNG have long histories. It was often the future, however, that speakers focused on Thursday.
"Hopefully we'll celebrate the successes of the past and lay the foundation for the successes of the future," said former CNG President Joe Timms.