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St. Lawrence Central slated for conversion to natural gas

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BRASHER FALLS — St. Lawrence Gas is expected to start the gas hookup process this afternoon at the St. Lawrence Central School District, and not a moment too soon, according to Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr.

He told Board of Education members there were problems heating the school this week because of the cold snap. Daily deliveries of propane were needed. Among the trouble spots was the middle school/high school library, where the board holds its monthly sessions, Mr. Vigliotti said. “We have had ongoing heating issues here,” he said. “This the first time (the library) has been up to this temperature.”

Mr. Vigliotti said six boilers were installed as part of a capital project, anticipating the conversion to natural gas when St. Lawrence Gas expanded into Franklin County. Two of those boilers were converted to propane to heat the buildings until they had switched over to natural gas. All six boilers will be converted to natural gas, according to Fred H. McLaughlin, district director of transportation, buildings and grounds.

This week, though, “we’re operating this building with two boilers,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

The conversion to natural gas could have been done earlier, he said, but he opted to delay it for a couple of weeks because of other pressing issues the district was having, including well water problems at both the elementary and middle/high school buildings. The water issues will be addressed over the holiday break, he said.

“St. Lawrence Gas a couple of weeks ago was ready to do the switch over. With the problems with air and water quality, I thought it was prudent to wait two weeks. When you make that decision, it complicates things on the propane side,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

With the cold weather, however, problems began to arise with the heating. “Fred’s worked around the clock,” Mr. Vigliotti said. “We went to daily deliveries during the coldest times. It’s been a struggle.”

But now those struggles may be over as the conversion is made to natural gas, a process that could take a few days.

District taxpayers in December 2011 approved an $8.2 million capital project that would allow the district to convert from heating oil to natural gas once St. Lawrence Gas passed by the district during its expansion into Franklin County.

That will allow the district to make the conversion and save money in the process. It also is converting from steam to hot water, which also will save money. The steam line and heating units date back to the 1950s.

Contracts were awarded in April to Meridian Construction Corp. for general work, Black River Plumbing, Heating & AC for mechanical work, S&L Electric Inc. for electrical work and Burns Bros. Inc. for plumbing work.

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