Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. and the Dickson City Council recognized Robert Durham for his more than 48 years of service in the natural gas industry with a proclamation and plaque Monday night.
Durham retired as general manager of the Greater Dickson Gas Authority on June 30.
Weiss pointed out that Durham began his career with the City of Dickson’s Gas Department when he started working as a welder on Dec. 9, 1968. In 1975, Durham was named manager of the utility while it was still a department of the City of Dickson.
Under a private act passed by the Tennessee General Assembly, the City of Dickson Gas Department merged with the Sam Houston Utility District to form the Greater Dickson Gas Authority in July 1989 and Durham was named the first general manager of the new entity, serving until his recent retirement.
After being first elected to the Dickson City Council in 1987, Weiss said he was appointed to the city’s Gas Committee for the last 20 months before the merger. As mayor for the last 24 years, Weiss has served on the gas authority’s five-member board of directors. Weiss is the last city elected official still in office from when Dickson operated the gas department.
During the almost 49 years he has worked in the natural gas industry, Durham guided the utility’s growth from the city’s 67 miles of main lines and 448 service lines to the authority’s current 796 miles of main lines and 17,692 services lines in five counties serving 11 municipalities. In 1995, the authority expanded with the purchase of the Town of Erin’s gas department in Houston County.
The proclamation recognizes Durham’s leadership in the natural gas industry, having served as president of the Tennessee Gas Authority, on numerous boards and committees with the TGA and American Public Gas Association and as chairman of the board for the Tennessee Energy Acquisition Corporation.
Durham received the M.M. Bullard Award from the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts for financial and operational excellence and The Silver Flame Award from the TGA for excellence in service to the natural gas industry.
With several family and friends in the audience, Durham thanked the mayor and council for the recognition.
“I enjoyed working for the city and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity as being general manager and CEO of the authority since 1975, as Mayor Weiss said,” Durham said. “We as a city were basically hemmed in and couldn’t grow. Of course the city has grown and the population of the city has grown and of course we have grown with that. But we were allowed to obtain a lot more territory and able to expand the services to a large part of Dickson County as well as other surrounding counties. I appreciate the opportunity and thank you very much.”
Upon Durham’s retirement, the board of directors selected Mark O’Neal as the second general manager of the Greater Dickson Gas Authority effective July 1.
Dickson Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. (left) congratulates Robert Durham (right) in recognition of his more than 48 years of service with the City of Dickson Gas Department and the Greater Dickson Gas Authority.