SHARON National Fuel Gas promises help with work on property

Company representatives said they were surprised by the ban preventing them from cutting into any more streets.
SHARON, Pa. -- National Fuel Gas officials say that if Sharon residents are upset with work done on their property by gas company contractors, they should contact the gas company for help.
Company representatives said they were caught by surprise when Sharon City Council, responding to complaints from people unhappy with the condition of their property after gas company work, voted last month to ban the company from cutting into any more streets until it finishes restoration work at previous work sites.
The ban doesn't apply in an emergency.
Company representatives met Monday morning at Harris Street and Maple Way with Councilman Lou Rotunno, who had pushed for the ban.
Rotunno had cited the condition of property at a gas company project done last winter at that location but noted Monday it had been cleaned up and seeded with new grass since last Thursday.
Damage to curb: There were, however, numerous chunks knocked out of the street curb -- damage Rotunno attributed to the private contractor working for the gas company.
Ed Stephenson, assistant general foreman for National Fuel's Sharon service area, said he was surprised to hear of the complaints from Rotunno.
All of the affected residents had been sent a letter with his own name on it so they would have a person to contact if they had problems, he said.
"They never called me," he said.
When the company is made aware of a problem, it responds, said Maryann Yochim, of National Fuel's government affairs office. A phone call is all that is needed, she added.
Todd Blauser, National Fuel's manager for the Sharon district, said the company will examine all work sites brought to its attention by Rotunno and meet with him again in two or three weeks.
Permits for cuts: Rotunno said the gas company has failed to secure the necessary city permits before cutting into streets but acknowledged that the city bears some responsibility for that problem because it has been lax in enforcing the rule.
Mayor Robert T. Price had said previously that the gas company doesn't normally come to the city each time it needs to cut into a street.
The city has been billing the company after the fact monthly, tabulating how many cuts are made and then charging the company for the permits, he said.

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