Friday, April 30, 2004

Building News

(written by Kim Stark)

I've just gotten word that PBUUC has just received a building permit. The demolition phase of the Religious Education Building will begin next Monday.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Comment Features are Now Enabled on This Blog

(written by Kim Stark)

I've finally found a way of adding a comment feature to this blog, courtesy of Comment This.com. Feel free to test it out on this or any other entries!

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Results from the Congregational Meeting on Rebuilding the Religious Education Building

written by Kim Stark

Today we held a congregational meeting on rebuilding the Religious Education Building that started soon after the end of Sunday service at 11:45 a.m. and lasted until 2:05 p.m. It was a long meeting that was initially well-attended but quite a few members left as the debate over various issues went on and on.

Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Miller started off the meeting with information of what's been happening lately. He mentioned that prior to the fire that destroyed the Religious Education Building last December, the Board was grappling with mold in the Religious Education classrooms and a rotting deck.

The fire provided both inconvenience (i.e., the staff having to share a cramped room in the Meeting House) and an opportunity to provide enhancements to the deck and the R.E. Building in order to have a building for the 21st century.

Board Member Mike Stark spoke about selecting Larry Cook as the architect for the rebuilding. He also mentioned that Nancy Ranek and Carla Miller did a survey of Religious Education teachers and the heads of those committees who used the R.E. classrooms to hold meetings. The results of that survey were taken into consideration when the Board members spoke among themselves on what kind of enchancements were needed.

Mike Stark also said that the insurance company wants to rebuild the R.E. Building as fast as possible while the Board of Trustees wants to spend time to build a building that will include upgrades and enchancements.

Board Member Tina Van Pelt said that Church Mutual (PBUUC's insurance company) will pay to restore the building to what it was when it was first built in 1964. But the idea is to build enhancements while rebuilding. There hasn't been a final number on how much all of these enchancements will cost because the number tends to change day by day as Board members continue to speak with various consultants.

Board Member Kathy Yu said that the Board and the REBuild Task Force went through three county offices only to hit a snag in one of them and had to go to the architect to fix a perceived flaw in the proposed structure. Then another snag involving the electrical structure happened so the Board had to hire an electrical engineer to look over the place and get an electrical diagram drawn up. This resulted in being behind in the rebuilding effort. The county has provided a temporary permit to start demolition of what remains of the R.E. Building within a week.

Tina Van Pelt then spoke on the improvements on R.E. Building and how much they would cost. A divider between rooms 2 and 3 would go up to replace the wall that was destroyed in the fire. There would be added skylights in the rooms, electrical upgrades (including dataports for computers), cabinets would replace Rubbermaid storage bins. The building would be made more disabled-friendly by adding a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and a wheelchair ramp to the outside door that faces Bornedale Avenue. Staff offices would be moved upstairs in order to make it easier for visitors to find the co-ministers, Religious Education director, church administrator, and other staff members. A quieter copy machine would be purchased. The walls in the former downstairs staff offices would be knocked down in order to create more classrooms and cabinets. Windows would be double-pained and made wider in order to make the building environmentally friendly. Insulation would also be upgraded for environmental reasons.

Kathy Yu said that the heating and air conditioning systems would be upgraded. There are two options:

  1. Upgrade to high efficiency furnances and add three air conditioners/dehumidifiers, whose estimated cost is $30,000
  2. Go with a Geothermal system that would be environmentally friendly, would be in line with the seventh UU Principal (the interdependent web of all existence), and could possibly save operating costs in the long run. The estimated cost would be $50,000

Architect fees would be $110,000. At least 65% of that would be covered by insurance. Architect oversight fees won't be covered by insurance. Proposal would be fore the congregation to pay those fees.

Status of the deck changes every day. With recent board replacements, it's possible that the congregation can get by with paying only $20,000 to repair the rest of the deck until the congregation gets the time to decide whether to replace it or not.

Right now the top priority is to get the R.E. Building rebuilt and reopened by the fall.

Kevin Miller said that today's congregational decision is on whether to start a capital campaign to have enhancements done to the R.E. Building or to simply rebuild the R.E. Building to the level of compensation offered by the insurance company.

There was a round of questions that were posed to the Board members by members of the congregation. Here are some of the facts:

All the upgrades are estimated to be, as of this writing, $190,000.

A faulty furnance was originally determined to be the cause of the fire. Now the county authorities have determined that old wiring may also be to blame.

The definition of a capital campaign is to raise funds outside the normal canvass fundraising process. There have been two previous capital campaigns in PBUUC's history: 1) to build the Meeting House and 2) to reduce debt.

If the money isn't raised, some work would be cut rather than take out a loan and go into debt to raise the outstanding money.

The Board voted to put proceeds raised in the PBUUC Fire Fund (money that was donated to PBUUC in the wake of fire by various individuals, other UU congregations, and groups) into the operations account because PBUUC lost rental income. (The Paint Branch Montessori School had been renting the R.E. Building prior to the fire.)

Kevin Miller also mentioned that the consultant that the Board had hired to get advice on how to run a capital campaign, recommended that the Board should act on starting such a campaign only if at least 80% of the congregation votes "aye". The Board decided to follow that recommendation at this meeting.

The congregation voted on this question: Should PBUUC initiate a capital campaign to fund recommended upgrades to the Religious Education Building? Ninety-six people voted "aye." Six people voted "nay." One person abstained. Over 80% of the congregation members voted "aye" so the motion passed.

There was a discussion on the second motion: Should the congregation use funds raised in the capital campaign to spend on "Basic Package" of upgrades as recommended by the REBuild Task Force and the Board of Trustees?

Here are the facts that came out of the questions and answers phase:

Lowell Owens and Bernie Peavy will directly supervise the rebuilding process as representatives of the congregation from Mondays through Fridays.

Those who voted for the previous motion should be prepared to back their beliefs with giving more money to the effort. (This statement was made by someone who voted "nay" on the previous motion.)

One congregation member asked, "Will I have to make a pledge to this capital campaign that taches the normal pledge in the annual canvass?" The answer from the Board: No. You have to balance how much you can afford and how badly you want the enchancements when considering your pledge.

The congregation voted on this question: Should the congregation use funds raised in the capital campaign to spend on "Basic Package" of upgrades as recommended by the REBuild Task Force and the Board of Trustees? Ninety-five voted "aye". Six voted "nay". Four abstained. The number of "aye" vote reached the 80% minimum again so the motion passed.

The new Capital Campaign Chair Kathleen Barnes explained the capital campaign process and timeline for reconstruction. She also urged people to consider volunteering for one of the capital campaign sub-committees (such as canvass and public relations).

The Board then turned to the third question: Do you support the inclusion of the "Geothermal Option" in the capital campaign, which would be funded only after the Basic Package was funded?

Penny O'Brien gave a presentation of Geothermal, what it is, and why this option should be pursued.

Geothermal has the lowest life cycle cost.

Geothermal means that a pipe takes the ground temperature (which is always 61°F). In the winter the pipe brings in heat from the ground. In the summer the pipe sucks out the heat and puts it into the ground.

Geothermal would eliminate the need for a furnance, air conditioning, boilers, chillers, cooling towers, water treatment, condenser pumps, and related controls.

It would reduce the size of equipment rooms.

It would eliminate outdoor equipment.

It would provide heating and cooling all year with automatic change over.

Each room would be zoned separately.

Refrigeration would be reduced 40-50%.

Geothermal would eliminate the use of fossil fuels for heating.

Even though ground temperature is always 61°F, one would be able to set the thermostat at a higher temperature in the winter.

Geothermal has the lowest energy/operating cost.

Geothermal would save PBUUC an estimated $4,000 per year in operating costs.

Geothermal would also be in line with the seventh UU principal, which is concerned with the interdependent web of all existence.

At this point in the meeting about a third of the attendees had left.

After futher discussion of this issue, two motions on the Geothermal issue were put to a vote.

First motion: Do you support the inclusion of the "Geothermal Option" in the capital campaign, which would be funded only after the Basic Package is funded? Sixty-nine voted "aye". Seven voted "nay". Eight voted to abstain. Over 80% voted "aye" so the motion passed.

Second motion: We (the congregation) move to support adding the "Geothermal Option" in the capital campaign but would be funded only after the Basic Package is funded? Sixty-five voted "aye". Fourteen voted "nay". Two voted to abstain. Over 80% voted "aye" so the motion passed.

The two hour and twenty mintue meeting ended at 2:05 p.m. with Kathleen Barnes announcing that someone had already donated $1,000 to the capital campaign.

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Why is There a Blog for Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church?

(written by Kim Stark)

I have a friend who has a blog of his own and he's been a bit of an evangelist for individuals and organizations to do their own blogging. Until recently, I haven't reallly found a use for Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church to have its own blog.

But then I got placed on a special public relations committee that's designed to educate people about the recent fire that struck our congregation and an idea of starting this blog came into my head.

I signed up for a free blog account. There is an option to upgrade to a paid account later but, for right now, this blog won't cost the church any money (which is crucial given that we are trying to stay financially afloat with the recent fire).

The main reason for this blog is to update on the rebuilding process of our Religious Education Building. As you may know, a devastating fire struck the building on December 9, 2003. As a result, our Sunday morning religious education classes for children have to be held off-site at Hight Point High School (located just a mile from PBUUC), all Enrichment Hour activities are held either in the Meeting House (where there is competition for space) or off-site, plus all other committee meetings have to vie for space in the Meeting House on other nights.

In addition to that, our deck has been deteriorating and will need to be replaced before someone falls through a piece of rotting wood and we have an unfinished basement that we have been wanting to finish for ages.

And this year is PBUUC's 50th anniversary.

Basically this blog will initially focus on all the rebuilding efforts. While this blog is still in its infancy, there are already a few guidelines of what you won't see in this blog:

Recent sermons. (You can find them right here.)

Recent Branches newsletter columns from our co-ministers. (You can find them right here.)

Topics of upcoming Sunday services. (You can find them right here.)

Announcements of future social activities. (You can find them right here.)

Announcements of upcoming committee meetings. (You can find them in either the Sunday Order of Service or the latest issue of the Branches newsletter.)

Anything about a personal aspect of a congregation member's life (such as illness, divorce, financial troubles, etc.) unless the affected person gives consent.
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