Agrium serves seniors one more time

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2007

 

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  Old friends greet one another as they prepare to enjoy the last Agrium Senior Thanksgiving turkey dinner at the Kenai Senior Center.

Old friends greet one another as they prepare to enjoy the last Agrium Senior Thanksgiving turkey dinner at the Kenai Senior Center.

For more than 25 years Central Peninsula Seniors have been treated to a Pre-Thanksgiving Day dinner compliments of the largest value added industry in Alaska, the Urea/Ammonia fertilizer plant in Nikiski. The best that anyone can remember, before the Kenai Senior Center opened and when the plant was owned by Collier’s the tradition began with the first dinner being served at the Kenai Elks lodge. When the Kenai Senior Center was built the volunteer tradition continued as Unocal took over operations of the facility and when Agrium purchased the plant at the turn of the century.

 

Melissa Bailey, Kenai Senior Cook prepares the Agrium Turkeys for the Senior Thanksgiving dinner.

However, with the closing of the facility due to shortage of natural gas last week was most likely the last Senior Thanksgiving dinner of its kind served by the Agrium employees, “We’re all glad to be here doing this today, as it’s our way at Agrium of saying thanks to these folks who have been long standing community members and have given so much of their lives to making this a great community. We’ve always loved this event because it’s our way of giving back to those folks and saying thanks for all they have contributed,” said John Averill, Agrium Safety Supervisor.

 

Agrium employees serve Turkey and all the trimmings for the last annual Seniors Thanksgiving dinner.

Averill has been working at the plant for 17 years and donating his time for the Senior Thanksgiving dinner for the last 12, “I’m the gravy guy now and it took a long time to work my way up to that position, we kind of compete to come here and serve, and it’s a real privilege to see so many folks that we’ve known through the years and to say thank you,” added Averill.

 

Longtime Nikiski homesteader Slyvia Johnson enjoys Agriums annual Thanksgiving dinner for seniors.

Well over 200 seniors were seated to a delicious Turkey dinner with all the trimmings compliments of Agrium, but it was with a sense of sadness and heavy hearts that many of the pioneers and former employees of the Nikiski facility gathered for the traditional supper. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that there will be some good news about the coal gasification plant in the future, so much of this community has been built around the people that have worked out there and we’re thankful for all of them and what they’ve contributed,” said former plant manager George Ford.

 

Retired Agrium employee Sal Mattero & KSC director Rachel Craig prepare to welcome over 200 seniors for the last annual Agrium Thanksgiving dinner.

At a noon meeting of the Kenai Chapter of the Alliance, Chris Sonnichson, director of operations at Agrium said that mothballing of the plant had been completed and the final shipment of product was scheduled in early December.

 

Agrium employees serve Turkey and all the trimmings for the last annual Seniors Thanksgiving dinner.

According to Sonnichson Agrium has helped most of the employees find other employment and that a security crew would be maintained at the facility. He also stated that steam would be kept in the plant through the winter to prevent freeze up damage.

 

Over 200 Kenai seniors enjoy Agrium's Pre-Thanksgiving dinner.

Sonnichson said that work on the feasibility of the coal gasification facility was continuing and that he was hopeful an announcement regarding the next phase of the project might come by early next year.



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