Retirees of Westfield Gas & Electric are recognized at the utility’s 125th anniversary event.

Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

WESTFIELD — Westfield Gas & Electric invited its 140 employees to a lunch meeting on May 15 at the Great Awakening Brewing Company on Mill Street to celebrate the municipal utility’s 125th anniversary. Guests also included retirees and elected officials, including Mayor Michael McCabe.

Lineman Ryan Callan, left, receives a safety award from General Manager Thomas Flaherty at Westfield Gas & Electric’s 125th anniversary party on May 15 at Great Awakening Brewing Co. in Westfield.
Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

General Manager Thomas Flaherty said since its establishment in 1899, WG&E has been committed to the community’s growth and development, providing safe and reliable natural gas and electric services to homes and businesses alike.

Through its subsidiary Whip City Fiber, WG&E now also provides fiber-optic internet service to Westfield and several neighboring communities. The utility serves more than 18,000 electric meters, 10,500 gas meters and nearly 17,000 high-speed internet customers.

Flaherty said the fiber-optic network within Westfield will be completely built out in 2025. He said Whip City Fiber has also partnered with several of the Hilltowns that wanted to introduce high-speed internet service, and the revenues from those services have helped complete the Westfield network.

West Springfield has now started the process of building a Whip City Fiber network, Flaherty said, recognizing Mayor William Reichelt, who also attended the May 15 event. Flaherty said when Reichelt first visited three years ago. “Whip City Fiber sold itself. He was very impressed with the operation.”

Andrew Dunn, left, a lineman, second class, at WG&E, is honored with a safety award by General Manager Thomas Flaherty.
Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

Flaherty also talked about WG&E’s proposed $1 million additional annual payment in lieu of taxes, to be funded by Whip City Fiber revenues, that the city government plans to use to pay for an $11 million athletic stadium and fields project on the Westfield High School campus.

He said back in 1989, when he was in school, the track at WHS “was in about the shape it is today. My kids were practicing in the hallways, and they are still practicing in the hallways.” He said it is a huge investment that will hopefully be completed in the fall of 2025.

McCabe said the project will “give our kids a place to safely play and one they can be proud of, which enhances our community.”

As part of the anniversary celebration, Flaherty called forward four employees to be recognized for their swift responses to three separate medical emergencies over the past six months.

Honored with safety awards at the anniversary were Ryan Callan, lineman; Mike Staples, troubleshooter; Andrew Dunn, who Flaherty called WG&E’s newest lineman, second class; and Matt Zordani, a gas distribution maintenance man.

Gas distribution maintenance man Matt Zordani, left, receives a safety award from Thomas Flaherty.
Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

“WG&E is proud to celebrate 125 years of service to the community, and we couldn’t do it without the dedication and hard work of our employees, both past and present,” Flaherty said. “The safety awards presented to these exceptional individuals highlight our company’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing safety in everything we do. We congratulate them on their well deserved recognition and thank them for their continued dedication to keeping our workplace and community safe.”

Marketing, Communications and Community Relations Manager Lisa Stowe said employees are regularly recognized for safety in their work.

“Everyone’s quick thinking, decisive actions, and unwavering commitment to safety made all the difference to those individuals in need,” she said about the four who were recognized.

Congratulations and commendations were also presented to WG&E from Wendy Esche of the Northeast Public Power Association,  acknowledging 125 years of public service. Flaherty said NEPPA is where the apprentice linemen receive four years of training, as well as annual training. 

WG&E Marketing, Communications and Community Relations Director Lisa Stowe attempts to corral the more than 100 employees in attendance together for a photo.
Reminder Publishing photo by Amy Porter

Ethan Flaherty presented a citation from the House of Representatives on behalf of state Rep. Kelly Pease (R-Westfield), and Mark Messer presented a Senate proclamation on behalf of state Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield), who was in Boston.

“Fun fact, Sen. Velis is now the chair of the Municipal Light Board caucus,” said Thomas Flaherty.

Retirees were recognized, and a video of current and retired employees and commissioners was shown.

Retired Boys & Girls Club CEO William Parks, who started his term as an elected Municipal Light Board member in January, said he is still learning about the business.

“I’m new, I’m learning all the acronyms. It’s very interesting to see the inner workings. I’m impressed, and I’m looking forward to being more involved,” he said.

amyporter@thewestfieldnews.com | + posts