City public works officials to help Port Gibson with gas system

Published 11:39 am Wednesday, March 9, 2022

City of Vicksburg public works officials will be helping the city of Port Gibson get into the natural gas business under an interlocal agreement approved Monday by the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The agreement allows Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman, Assistant Director Dane Lovell and other city utilities workers to assist Port Gibson as officials there take over the system, which had been operated by Mississippi River Gas Co.

Port Gibson Mayor Willie White said Mississippi River Gas was leasing and operating the city-owned system for the past 40 years.

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He said Port Gibson’s Board of Aldermen recently developed plans to take over the gas system.

“We already operate the water (system),” he said.

White said the board’s decision was not the result of problems with Mississippi River Gas.

“We didn’t terminate them,” he said. “We just saw it as an economic opportunity for the city — financial growth.”

Because Port Gibson did not have anyone experienced working with a gas distribution system, he said, city officials looked for cities in the state that operated municipal gas systems. Vicksburg, White said, was the closest city and Port Gibson already has mutual assistance agreements with Vicksburg police and the fire department.

“Seeing as they are experienced, they are our ‘go to’ organization for assistance or any type of instruction we may need to make sure we maintain an effort (to operate the gas system),” White said.

“When you’re in the natural gas industry and another company needs your help, you just step up to the plate and do it,” Van Norman said. “We’re going to try and get them all fixed up; there’s so many rules and regulations on a gas system it’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable what you’ve got to do. When somebody like that gets in trouble, we’ve got to help them.”

Also, Van Norman said, all of Warrenton Road and all of South Vicksburg is served by Port Gibson gas, “so there’s plenty of our citizens down there and they’re getting gas from them — it’s in their certificated area. It’s one of those things; we were the only people who could step up and help them.”

White said Port Gibson officials are in the process of hiring operators for the gas system.

“We have hired some experienced people,” he said. “We have qualified people ready to go. When we reached out to Vicksburg, it was in our mutual interests to do it.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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