BEECH BOTTOM - It's not unusual for the workers of natural gas companies to be seen as outsiders in the communities where they work, but the management and crew members with the Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co. have been been working to change that perception.
On Monday, representatives of the company were invited to Beech Bottom Primary School so children and staff could thank them for the backpacks filled with school supplies they provided for each of the school's 100 pupils.
Beech Bottom Councilwoman Becky Uhlly said the backpacks and other school supplies donated by members of Christian Life Apostolic Church were distributed during a back-to-school rally held Saturday by the church and the village's Community Neighborhood Watch program.
OFFERING THANKS — Children and staff at Beech Bottom Primary School welcomed staff with Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Co. as they entered the school gym’s Monday. The visitors received applause and thank-you cards for the backpacks filled with school supplies they provided for all of the children. At the far left are Joe Siebert, equipment manager for Sheehan Pipeline; Jim Lovell, public relations coordinator for Sheehan Pipeline; and Joe Parrish, superintendent for the pipeline company’s operations in Beech Bottom; and at the far right, teachers Melinda Reed and Meredith Moore, speech therapist Fred Rentschler and Principal Richard Whitehead. - Warren Scott
The children and their families also were treated to a magic show, food and games provided by the watch program and church.
Richard Whitehead, the school's principal, said the backpacks "were filled about $3,000 in school supplies - everything you could think of for school."
Uhlly said it's not the first time the company has aided the school and community.
She added the workers have donated numerous canned goods and other nonperishable food for children in need.
Last year, the school became the first in Brooke County, through a federal program, to provide free breakfasts and lunches to all pupils because of the large number of low-income families it serves.
Through the efforts of Beech Bottom Community Christian Church, about 20 children take home backpacks containing food on weekends to help ensure they have enough to eat outside school.
The church also arranges for the children to receive food during the summer.
The Rev. Dan Harry, the church's pastor, was on hand Monday to thank the Sheehan employees.
"It's nice to have help," he said.
Also present was Pat Ford, executive director for the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, who helped to bring the Tulsa, Okla., company to Beech Bottom, where it has established a staging area for operations that involve the extension of a 40-mile natural gas pipeline from the Washington, Pa., area through the Northern Panhandle to Ohio.
Ford noted the workers put in long hours and work six days a week, but have found time to help village residents with financial issues with home repairs.
Joe Siebert, an equipment manager for Sheehan and a leader of an informal group of workers known as Pay It Forward, shrugged when asked how they find time to help others.
"There's always time, whether it's five minutes or five hours," he said.
"It's just little projects we do here and there for people who need help," Siebert said, adding, "If you can do something, do it. That's what God wants you to do."
He stressed that attitude isn't new to the community, where he and others have seen residents reach out to help.
"Because we've just come here, all eyes are on us, but there are good people in the community," Siebert said, adding a few local men have helped them to find ways to help.
Beech Bottom Mayor George Lewis said village officials and residents have tried to make the company and its workers feel welcome since they arrived last spring.
Upon hearing some workers have family members who were affected by the May 20 tornado that hit Moore, Okla., the village held a community prayer vigil with food and invited the workers to join them.
Uhlly said during the ribbon cutting for the company's Beech Bottom site, she circulated fliers for a spaghetti dinner at her church and Sheehan workers have attended fundraisers held there.