NORWAY — Employees of an energy infrastructure company decided to celebrate their company’s 125th anniversary by going back to its roots and lending a hand to the community.
The town of Norway was the birthplace of Horace Ebenezer Horton, who founded Chicago Bridge & Iron Company in 1889 and built its first fabricating plant in Washington Heights, just south of Chicago, according to John W. Waechter, project manager.
He and two other employees, engineer Kevin Dufek and purchasing manager Lou Mannina made their way to the Norway Community Center Saturday morning to present a check, with a promise of more funds to come, and learn about the place where Horace E. Horton was born.
Waechter explained that CB&I, as it is now known, is celebrating its 125th anniversary by giving back to the communities in which the employees live and work.
“Together CB&I employees around the world will volunteer for two days to celebrate this milestone through volunteering and charitable efforts,” he said in a letter to Norway Town Supervisor Judy Gokey. Waechter explained that the CB&I project site in Fort Edward decided to focus its efforts on the town of Norway.
In keeping with the theme of celebrating 125 years in business, Waechter said, the employees at Fort Edward have set a goal of raising the funds necessary to provide 125 backpacks stocked with school supplies for town of Norway children. He presented Gokey with a check for $500 as the initial installment toward a pledge of at least $3,500 in support of the town’s backpack project and holiday children’s celebration.
The project site will continue to raise funds and provide the balance of the funds to the town by Aug. 16, he said.
They also plan to support the Norway Historical Society’s efforts to restore the former Baptist Church building that houses the Norway History Center by promoting the sale of the society’s “Old Barns of Norway” tapestry afghans at its facility and offices.
Janet Burt, president of the Norway Historical Society, shared some of the information she found about Horace E. Horton with the visitors and said she plans to include it in an upcoming newsletter. She also gave them a tour of the Norway History Center. The society is working to raise funds to replace windows and do other work on the building. The former Norway Baptist Church, at 1067 Newport Gray Road, is on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The church, built in 1831, was closed in 1997 and was dedicated as the Norway History Center in 2002. It features a research area on the first floor and the sanctuary upstairs.
Gokey said she was a little skeptical when Town Clerk Lora Grower first forwarded her the email she had received from CB&I, but decided to reply to see what would happen. “We’re so pleased,” she said.
Gokey explained that the town doesn’t have its own summer recreation program because the families with children are spread out throughout the rural area. “We help the town of Russia with their recreation program,” she said. What Norway does do is provide the children of the town with backpacks full of school supplies. Parents must register their children, giving name, age and gender and appropriate supplies, ranging from activity books and crayons for pre-schoolers to calculators and notebooks for high school seniors.
The town can’t use tax money for this project, however, so town officials and volunteers seek donations and raise funds. This year, a Chinese auction is planned for May 4, Gokey said, and organizers are seeking donations. Anyone who would like to donate to the project is invited to call the town office at 845-8682.
The town also raises money for its Christmas party, complete with a visit from Santa Claus and gifts. Parents register their children for this program, which is also open to children from outside the town.
CB&I is described on its website as “the most complete energy infrastructure focused company in the world and a major provider of government services.” It has approximately 55,000 employees and provides a wide range of services including design, engineering, construction, fabrication, maintenance and environmental services.