Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One Year Ago....

 One Year Ago....and a long way away.



So my post from last evening got me thinking about where I was exactly one year ago, because it's been quite a journey. And what I was deeply entrenched in prepared me, as it always does even when we have no idea what is coming, for what is to be.

So if you didn't read the post from yesterday:
 http://betsy5alive.blogspot.com/2013/03/architecture.html

One year ago, I was finishing up one of the most rewarding and satisfying volunteer projects I've been blessed to undertake. It was the complete demolition (walls in) and rebuild of the Sanctuary of our church. Some very fine and wise people had laid the ground work and I came onto the project about 4 months before 'D' day and saw it through for the 14 week construction period! It was a whirlwind. It included completely destructed, refinished and rebuilt pews; new paint, carpet, curtains and light fixtures; but also new wiring and new light dimmer system; additional sound and A/V capabilities; and TV monitoring capabilities from other areas of the church and a new pipe organ! One of the larger pipe organs in the Cincinnati area.

This was the third of a three phase project which when completed would makeover almost our entire church in one aspect or another. I was tangentially involved in other aspects of the other phases, particularly phase one, but for this phase I was the chair person and acting as the General Contractor. This was my second big construction project at the church. I chaired the committee when we had a major addition to our church in the late 90's early 2000. But the Sanctuary was one of those right projects at the right time things and Boom! Well you see the pictures there at the bottom of the page...seriously, what is not to like?

So what does that have to do with today? It has to do with the Building Department and people who stand by you and Dwayne Boso. One year ago, we, our church, were nearing the completion of the project. The members of the congregation who worshiped in the traditional style were displaced to Anderson High School for worship during construction. Our thanks to Anderson High School. This was not ideal, but worked. It is NOT the ideal location for Easter Services however, and as they say, "Easter is coming." (come to church if that's not familiar to you, she said gently.) We also have contemporary services which meet at our church and those met as per usual in a different part of the building. (The part built in that earlier building project.)

The project was coming to a close ON TIME and ON BUDGET for our phase, and it was time to get the inspector in there to get our Certificate of Occupancy. Since all three phases were on one permit, he had the right, the duty and as it happened, the inclination, to check out all three phases or areas. Except guess what? Those other phases had been finished for a long time, per the plan. So the people who oversaw those areas had moved on to other endeavors, as we say. My friend Roger Stone who was the project electrician, and I were there to walk the job with the very detailed inspector, answering questions and providing documentation for parts of the project in which neither of us had any involvement. "What, Mr. Inspector? You want to do a pressure test on the gas line installed in Fellowship Hall?" Hmm, was there a gas line installed in FH? (Yes, there was. We squeaked past the test.) Etc, etc, there were three things like that, we'll spare you the details. Just don't say the words "sprinkler system" to me. Yes, we had some fun. Thanks again, Roger.

And then the inspector decided he wanted something different on our phase, as in - something not on the plan. Something he is sure the Plan Examiner meant to require us to do, something which would have been ridiculous and would have stood out like a ....(I hate cliches, you know I was going to say 'sore thumb') would have stood out like putting a hand rail in the middle of our beautiful ceremonial steps in front of our chancel area, because that's what he wanted.

(this is a lot of words)
There are photos coming...

That doesn't sound so crazy but it just would have looked awful and would get in the way. (we have steps with handrails along the sides of the chancel area.) But we/he couldn't ask the Plan Examiner her intentions because she only works part time and she is off until next Monday, and guess what week we are into now? The week before Easter.

So if we have to get handrails they must
  • be designed
  • the design would have to be approved by the Plan Examiner (who works part-time)
  • rails built (or purchased)
  • installed
  • inspected (and the inspector was going out of town, because alas!, it's spring break)
  • then the certificate of occupancy approved!
Oh! Did I mention, that if we didn't get our certificate of occupancy, the temporary one expired? Then NOBODY could worship in the building, traditional or contemporary! Whoa. Did I mention Easter is coming?  And we have an accredited Pre-school on site and they lose their accreditation without the Certificate of Occupancy, because the temporary expires. No Pressure.
A person who is there when needed.
But then, you have people who stand by you.  This photo will look familiar if you read the previous blog post. We got through the rigamarole. We successfully talked our way through not needing the handrail at our ceremonial steps. Really, I made the calls, with Dwayne coaching me at every juncture. He was ready to step in, but we decided to let the process unfold naturally, the outcome was important not just for our church but for other churches MSA was working on also. We worked through the Building Inspector with whom I had a good relationship and eventually in the 11th hour, got the word we did not need that hand rail!!! Amen!

And in the 11th hour it was that guy, photo on the right, Dwayne Boso RA, who after talking me through the whole handrail process, stayed on the phone with me as I drove downtown minutes before the county Building Department closed to make sure I got there, got a parking spot and I made it into the office to pick up that certificate of occupancy!

Most at church don't know how close we were to having (actually Palm Sunday) services back in the High School where they were sure they were finished worshiping. We'd moved our furniture out of the school and started moving back into the church. But Dwayne sweated that process out with me and cheered with me as I rode back down the elevator, hard fought COO in hand! My prize possession. With the help of a good friend!

AHUMC Sanctuary, my most rewarding project. Photos before, during and after:
 
We call this "Methodist Blue" I hope not to ever see it again...
Obviously 'during' and still blue....
 
A transformation is beginning. Ahhh! The newly refinished pews are being reinstalled!


The finished product minus the piano and organ console, chairs and other chancel adornments!






This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, making one year of worship services, a few too many funeral services and some beautiful weddings in the newly renovated Sanctuary!

Thanks to all who participated.
Here are a few who stood out in addition to the aforementioned architect!
Here's that electrician who stood by during two really really intense inspections, plus the fine electrical work...:

Roger Stone - you are the best!
The best woodworker/furniture restorer in Ohio! He and his crew made our pews look brand new again, plus many other projects throughout..paint, ceilings and a great sound booth to name a few:
Pat Blank, Ridgeton Restoration

JFed. Church Admin. Came over to the project daily for the express purpose of making me laugh. He literally saved me last March! Thanks Jerry!
Editor Add-in:
I'd be remiss (rather, I was remiss) in omitting our ringleader who oversaw all of the building project. I don't have a photo from the project, but here's one from when some of us went to Europe the summer prior:
Chris Gremban, ringleader. On train going up into Swiss Alps!

And as I said previously, we move on.
But it's a nice trip down memory lane. Those antics with the Building Department came in handy this week and the last few weeks. I'm no longer unfamiliar with procedure and the ins and outs of the offices of the civil servants downtown. Maybe all that was in prep for this? No doubt. More later.

Make the most of today, you never know what it's preparing you for tomorrow, and nothing is guaranteed. (Changed it on ya!)

Peace to you!
Betsy
ugft llc.

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