01.06.16

Visitors to our church are always impressed by the beauty of our property – but that beauty doesn’t come easily. Those of us who participate in our regular spring and fall cleanup days know about some of the work that’s involved. Much more goes on behind the scenes.

Until recently, Dick Seymour served us all as our volunteer building coordinator and head of the Operations Commission, the church committee that manages our property. So I sat down with him to find out what’s involved in maintaining our facility. He told me that the work breaks down into six main categories:

  1. Everyday cleaning and regular maintenance, performed by our custodian, Jose Sandoval.
  2. Emergency repairs of our heating, lighting, and plumbing as needed, typically by skilled hired technicians.
  3. Regularly scheduled work by contractors, such as snow plowing and lawn cutting.
  4. Smaller tasks that are scheduled as needed. Typically, these are done by a combination of Jose and volunteer church members. Recent examples include straightening and reinforcing the fence along the rear driveway, replacing the steel doors that lead to our basement, and cleaning and replanting the Routes 132 and 202 corner.
  5. Major projects that require significant planning and effort but can be done in-house. Dick said he first got involved in church work many years ago when he repaired the church pews, which were separating between the seat and the backs.  That required 300 three-inch screws. Other examples include designing, building, and installing the audio console at the rear of the sanctuary; installing the sanctuary projector and screen; and sanding and painting the entire front wall of the Christian Education building.
  6. Once-in-a-generation projects such as straightening and reinforcing the church steeple; installing insulation in the attic and crawl spaces; paving the rear driveway; patching and painting the sanctuary ceiling; and restoration of the north parking lot. These involve months of planning, hiring and supervision of outside contractors, and significant financial outlay.

For Dick, a major focus is not just fixing things that break, but anticipating problems. That requires looking closely at our facilities, thinking about what could go wrong, and intentionally addressing concerns before they turn into emergencies. It also involves a lot of budgeting work to make sure we have the funds needed to do the larger repairs and improvements. Given the age and the heavy use of our buildings, we know that we have to plan for major maintenance. Our Church does that by regularly putting aside money in a Maintenance Reserve Fund that can be drawn upon for those once-in-a-generation projects.

That planning, and much of the work, is done by the Operations Commission, a group of a dozen or so members who meet monthly year-round. Now that Dick has retired from his volunteer job, the Commission is led by Dave Ramage, Ian Spence, and Kirk Larsen. They’ll have a tough act to follow.

~Mark Linehan

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