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MailTribune.com
  • Brotherton Pipeline loses some Avista contracts

  • Brotherton Pipeline, of Gold Hill, no longer will handle the bulk of natural gas pipe installation in Oregon for Avista Utilities, resulting in two dozen layoffs.
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  • Brotherton Pipeline, of Gold Hill, no longer will handle the bulk of natural gas pipe installation in Oregon for Avista Utilities, resulting in two dozen layoffs.
    For a quarter of a century, Brotherton has handled 90 percent the Spokane, Wash.-based utility's pipeline work in Oregon. When a new round of contracts goes into affect on March 16, however, the Gold Hill pipe firm will no longer be Avista's primary Oregon partner.
    Southwest Gas Corp. subsidiary NPL Construction, also known as Northern Pipeline, with offices stretching from Massachusetts to California, has signed a three-year deal giving the Phoenix, Ariz.-based company a 50-percent share of Avista's Oregon business.
    NPL Construction will operate in Jackson and Josephine counties, while Brotherton Pipeline will continue its Avista work in Klamath Falls, La Grande and Roseburg. Chandler Pipeline Construction of Grants Pass, which previously had a small slice of the Avista pie, is no longer part of the equation.
    Avista Utilities spokesman Dan Kolbet said the seven-figure pact was the result of a competitive process "to find the right deals" and the amount of work done for the company in the area would remain steady.
    Jim Brotherton, chief executive officer and president of the family business, was unavailable for comment Monday and was expected to be out of town for several days. A company spokesman confirmed that the employees were notified they would be losing their jobs on Feb. 25 and that Brotherton employees were moving out of a White City office used to service Avista.
    "We're moving our stuff out and the company coming in is hiring guys that worked for us," the Brotherton spokesman said.
    He was unsure what the new arrangement meant for sub-contractors such as Johnny Cat, Dave's Tractor Service and Pacific Paving.
    Dave Sanders of Dave's Tractor Service in White City said his business will take a hit.
    "Brotherton work is 50 percent of what I do," Sanders said. "Any time Brotherton tears into asphalt or cement I come in and repair it and make it look like new. This is going to hurt me and my workers. In the wintertime when everybody else was dead, it was nice having them around."
    While Brotherton employees with the right certification to work on gas lines were attractive to the newcomer, Sanders said that wasn't the case for cement workers.
    "I tried to contact them when I found out last week," Sanders said. "I was told they do their own asphalt and cement work. Avista liked the work I did; three years and not one complaint."
    — Greg Stiles
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