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Every Thursday morning, the Property Team works for 2-3 hours around the grounds of Holy Trinity to spruce it up before our Sunday worship services. Their usual tasks include minor building repairs, mowing the grass, indoor cleaning, setting up heavy equipment, and painting. After finishing the tasks for the day, they meet for 30 minutes for coffee, snacks, and fellowship. If you are interesting in joining or helping out, contact email@example.com
Our current Property Team leader is David Mercer.
Martha and I will be leaving for Florida about January 24th and will be returning about the second week of April. During my absence, Barry Philbrick will be coordinating the activities of the Thursday Morning Group and will be the point of contact for general property matters except for the period February 3-16 when he will also be away. Property issues can always be brought to the attention of the church office who can reach me by e-mail. See you in the spring! Dave Mercer, Property Team Leader
It is that time of year when we have to think about the inevitable reality of winter ... snow and ice. It is worth taking a trip down memory lane and recalling how we dealt with the "winter wonder land". Back in the day when the congregation was younger, the parking lot and driveways smaller, the outside walkways and emergency exits fewer, we handled snow and ice largely with volunteers. As our facility became larger, this became impractical, and we hired professional help to plow the lot and driveways. We continued to rely on volunteers to take care of the sidewalks and to clear access and egress paths for our emergency exits. For these ongoing volunteer duties, we have had a group of folks who coordinated among themselves so one or more of them would come in during and after storms or ice events to take care of things. I started calling them the "snow removal team". I should have called them the "snow angels". They were here doing their collective thing even when Martha and I were basking in the warmth of Florida each winter. They have been great, but times change, people's responsibilities change, and some years the demands on this team have been very heavy, if not excessive. A couple of years ago, I asked our snow removal contractor to expand their scope to include sidewalks and paths to emergency exits. This has worked out well, particularly for large snow events, but we are still not off the hook for lesser snow events and icing events. Last Christmas Eve was an important example. Up to about mid-afternoon that day, our lots, driveways, and walks were clear, but we had a significant icing event an hour or so before the start of services, making footing treacherous. It was too late to get our contractor out to do anything about it. We had to deal with it ourselves. In hindsight, I could have done a better job watching the weather forecast which correctly predicted icing throughout the area ... lesson learned! Another thing to keep in mind, the snow removal contractor comes only after significant snowfall, so there will be many cases where we will have to deal with snow on the parking lot, drives, and walks. We would typically not do anything with small accumulations of snow on the lots or drives, but we would take care of the walks. Of course, we would also call in our contractor to treat the lots and drives if there was a buildup of packed snow and ice.
All that said, I suggest all of us who are physically able and so inclined, consider ourselves to be informal members of the snow team ... "snow angels". If you arrive on Sunday or for other church activities and find snow or slippery conditions on the walks, grab one of the shovels just inside the doors and clear a path and put down some ice melt (also available near the doors). I also plan to retain the snow removal team to deal with other, possibly larger, snow removal tasks that arise, but we can all help with the smaller tasks. Thanks in advance to all who may offer a hand from time to time. Dave Mercer, Property Team Leader.
A mysterious thing happens from time to time as the hours of daylight change. Typically, I know it has happened again when I observe the parking lights are on when they should be off, or off when they should be on. This usually means that a mystery person has gone to the boiler room, opened the control box for the lights, and changed the settings on the timer. More often than not, the setting has been changed such that the lights are on and stay on. I really wish the mystery person or persons would not do this, because energy is wasted. In a few cases, the settings have prevented the lights from coming on when needed. Please contact me in person or by phone (603-953-3855) if you believe the controls for the parking lot lights need to be changed.
Lighting matters are an ongoing challenge. We recently changed another of the bulbs in the high overhead lighting fixtures in the Sanctuary using a reach rod device provided by Jonathan Bock. This is the third time to date that one of these bulbs has been changed without the need for an aerial lift. Thank you, Jonathan!
I also hope you notice improved lighting in the gathering area. We recently replaced three of failed spot lights above the entrance to the Sanctuary and also replaced several failed bulbs in the overhead light fixtures in the Gathering Area. As part of this work and previous work, all of the fixtures in the Gathering Area now have LED bulbs which will save energy without loss of illumination and should give significantly longer bulb life. Work to add additional lighting for the library has continued, and should complete soon. We will be working on some additional lighting matters in the coming weeks. Let there be light!
When the "garage" door is open, you will notice improvements to the back wall. The new drywall work to resolve a fire code issue has been completed and new shelving has been installed to improve storage and reduce clutter.
David Mercer, Property Team Leader
Fall has arrived and the big tent is down and stored for the winter. Of all the unlikely things to bring some controversy this year, the tent would have been low on my list. We have used it for years without issue, but then State of New Hampshire regulations found us in the form of a required permit from the Newington Fire Department. As it happens, a large tent such as ours (greater than 600 square feet) requires an inspection and permit. We have the permit which will require renewal in 2018. Who knew?
Beginning this spring, we have been working to resolve some fire code compliance issues in the "garage" and the boiler room. This work has primarily involved addition and repairs to drywall and sealing pipe penetrations through the walls. This work should be completed by winter.
This spring, the library team requested improved lighting for the library area. In response to that request the existing fluorescent lighting in that area has been repaired and redirected. About half of the existing lights were out of service due to a failed ballast. The ballast has been replaced and all of the fixtures have been turned upward to provide more effective indirect lighting. LED track lighting has been added to provide direct lighting for the book shelves, tables, and displays in the library.
Holy Trinity now hosts an open mic acoustic music event (The New Grounds Coffee House) on the third Friday of each month. To support this event we applied donated equipment to implement a fully portable and effective sound system for use in the gathering area. The system provides up to eight instrument and microphone inputs to a mixer board, and uses the existing overhead speakers in the gathering area.
We have seen the first "church mouse" of the season. It is not unusual to see these little visitors as the season turns colder. We typically let our pest control service know they have arrived so we can take some preventative action. Be aware of their potential presence and take care to avoid leaving food crumbs and such that will attract them.
We recently replaced one of the overhead bulbs in the sanctuary. This has been a reasonably rare event since we made the change to LED bulbs.
What a summer season it has been! We have seen hot, cold, wet, dry and whatever. Surely, we cannot complain, particularly in view of the the extreme weather challenges being endured by the folks in Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere. We have been fortunate here in Newington. The lawn, bushes, plantings and such have suffered a bit from the hot and dry periods, but things seem to be recovering. Overall, the property has fared well with the help of our volunteers. Most of us are unaware of the ongoing work to maintain the property, inside and out, and the many hours of volunteer work to make it happen.
As you pass by the office side of the building, you may notice the tree adjacent to the Sanctuary has been cut back significantly to resolve a problem with large branches overhanging the roof and hanging low over the bushes and sidewalk.
Over the past month or so, the Property Team has been working to resolve some fire protection issues of concern to the Newington Fire Department who noted some problems with the drywall and the door closer for the boiler room. Progress is being made to resolve these issues. The door closer has been repaired and returned to service. Drywall repairs are in progress in the boiler room, and new drywall is being installed on the back wall of the "garage".
Take a message to Garcia! This phrase has been on my mind recently. A little history is appropriate here. In the run-up to the Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States dispatched a young Army officer to Cuba with orders to deliver a message to the leader of the rebels trying to overthrow the Spanish government there. All I remember from my history lessons is that the message was unlikely to be well received. So it was that three expressions came into common use in American lexicon in the years following that war. The rebel leader was named Garcia, and the expression, "Take a message to Garcia." has come to mean a risky task involving telling someone something they may not want to hear. Similarly, as the story goes, the young Army officer was told to "Keep one foot in the stirrup" meaning be ready to get back in the saddle and get out of there if things did not go well. A third related expression may well have originated with the young Army officer, "Don't shoot the messenger!"
As regards our tent, I feel a bit like the Army officer and some of you are my Garcia. Recent rules from the State of NH require us to have a permit for our tent and the process results in restrictions on how many people we can have under our tent. We now have a permit which limits us to no more than fifty people. The requirements become significantly more complicated when the number of occupants exceeds fifty. I know this occupancy limitation impacts our use of the tent. I have made council aware of the pertinent aspects of the state rules so we can make informed decisions about future tent use. I have no idea where all this is going. I only ask that you do not shoot the messenger or cast our local FD in a negative way. We have a very good relationship with them and I have always found them to be reasonable. In this case they are doing what the State Fire Marshal Office requires in terms of tent permits and inspection criteria for tents.
It is busy time for the Property Team. The Thursday Morning Group has been heavily engaged in its normal inside and outside routine. This time of year that means a lot a grass cutting, trimming, tending to our outside plantings and gardens, and activities to keep our Kitchen, Sanctuary and Gathering Area tidy. We have also been busy installing air conditioners, helping with preparations for the Church Picnic, and others matters that come up. As always, there is a backlog of tasks on our "to-do" list, so feel to join us on Thursday mornings to help out and to share in fellowship, coffee, and dessert.
I imagine many of you have tired of hearing about the "fire" and the fallout from it. I suppose that is a natural reaction to a degree. On the other hand, there is always something to be learned from these unanticipated events that seem to come along from time to time. One of my nightmares involves the scenario of an otherwise minor fire that becomes a major problem as a result of combustible clutter, particularly loose paper, paste board, cardboard, cloth, and similar items that can be easily ignited and burn readily. As fire experts tell us, a fire needs three things to exist...heat, air, and fuel. We often have no control over the heat component (e.g., an electrical problem) and air is all around us, but we can control clutter which can provide the fuel. We have made progress in managing clutter, but there is always more to do. It is in all of our best interests to be sensitive to combustible clutter in our building by getting rid of items that are no longer needed and by properly storing items that we keep.
Photo: On May 11, Dave Mercer and the rest of the Property Team set up the tent for a few upcoming Holy Trinity events, such as the Herb Sale on May 13, the church picnic on June 11, and Vacation Bible School in late July.
We are approaching the spring season, so it is a good time to think about the various tasks needing our attention. Soon we will be cleaning up winter debris on the grounds and getting ready for another growing season. The sheet-rock project for the back wall of the garage is still in the review stage. An estimate has been obtained to evaluate whether to use outside sources or our own Thursday Group. A decision will be made after Easter.
Have you noticed something missing from the church property? A large branch was split from the tree near the handicapped parking spots during the mid-March blizzard. Thanks to Len Small and his chainsaw, and Don Gindlesperger for his truck, for making this unsightly branch disappear. As we approach this Holy Week, the Thursday group will evaluate any storm damage and take the necessary action.
And, as always, there are inside tasks to be addressed. We can always use more hands for this work, and there are several ways anyone can help if you are interested and able. The Thursday Morning Group meets each week to work on various tasks. This is one way to help and does not require participation every week. Drop by when you can and we can put you to work. We can also use people who cannot help on Thursday mornings but can help at other times, either alone or with others. We are very flexible. Please contact me or contact the church office if you would like to help.
Dave Mercer & Barry Philbrick, Property Team Leaders
I suppose you could say I am "out of pocket", not in the old-school sense of paying property expenses with my own money, but in the more contemporary sense of being unavailable or unreachable. Although, I will, in fact, be unavailable until mid-April when Martha and I return from our winter vacation in Florida, I will certainly be reachable by e-mail and cell phone should the need arise.
One of the benefits of being away for a couple of months is the luxury of stepping back from the day-to-day property issues that arise, and giving some thought to broader matters. I hope to use some of my down time to think about long-term capital and maintenance projects. The normal, routine aspects of property matters tend to get in the way of planning for such things. Some potential projects that come to mind include kitchen and restroom renovations, carpet replacement in some parts of the building, tree trimming, a picnic pavilion, building exterior staining and repair, replacement of the stonework around the building perimeter, etc. Sometimes it seems there is no end to it. Of course, all of this takes time and money. A plan is the essential first step. One of my favorite questions, however trite, is "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer: "One bite at a time!" I welcome your thoughts (and dreams) on property projects. If the spirit moves you, share your ideas via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Property Team Leader