We are excited to share photos from our OAC walkthrough this week.  The building is coming alive with permanent power as new lighting is tested and turned on.  Motion sensors detect occupancy and turn on lights as you walk into closets and rooms.  The new LED panel, which will evenly light our historic stained glass, will give the effect of sunlight pouring through the windows whenever we desire, through the rain, shine, or night.  The string lights in the social hall provide a fantastic ambiance, and the gallery lighting is sleek and modern.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so we hope the attached photos give you a taste of what’s in store!

Our progress has been stymied over the last few months, primarily by DeKalb County inspectors and the permitting process.  Since March 16, 2020, the DeKalb County Department of Planning and Sustainability has operated “virtually” with remote operations due to Covid-19.  Getting permits pulled and inspections coordinated has been challenging and requires enormous effort and pressure to push through.  We are grateful to DeKalb commissioner Jeff Rader for his office’s help.  It’s still bumpy, but we’d be even further behind schedule without our commissioner’s assistance.  Today, we are still awaiting our hard-ceiling inspections resulting from delays in permitting and inspections and questionable additional requirements imposed by the fire marshal.  We are seeing some movement finally on this front and hope to have the ceiling inspection completed within the next week.

Elsewhere, we are still seeing some delays in specific trades.  For example, concrete is tough to obtain due to massive construction in the Atlanta metro area and difficulty in obtaining concrete mixing components brought to the SouthEast part of the country via long-haul truck drivers.  A labor shortage in the trucking industry has put concrete orders out to a five-week lead time even for companies as large as Choate.  We have will-call tickets in with five concrete companies in the metro area so that if other jobs cancel or a truck has left over, we are ready to take it on demand.

Due to all of the above, we have adjusted our schedule.  We now expect punch list completion in July, with our first service at our new home on August 7, 2022.  Our worship team and board will be announcing plans for July within the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned to the Weekly Update to hear about the exciting options to keep our community connected throughout July.

Unfortunately, our perfect safety record ended this week when one of our window installers had an accident.  While working on the upper transom above the exterior doors leading into the social hall, a subcontractor stood on the top step of a 7ft ladder and fell while holding the glass.  The site rules require not using the top two steps of any ladder.  The worker was wearing other safety gear, which protected him from the shattering glass.  The job site was shut down briefly and the injured man was taken to Urgent Care.  He was cleared by the doctor and returned to work (at a different job site) the same day.  Choate qualifies the incident as a “near-miss” and used the event as a teachable moment for other workers on the site with a real-life example of why safety rules are in place.  Choate is opening an investigation as the gentleman should have also had a second person with him but was not present when the incident occurred.  We are grateful there was no serious injury and that this worker was able to recover quickly.

Finally, we offer the disappointing news that SouthFace did not award us the third grant we applied for last month.  The news came to us over the weekend as a surprise.  We are thankful for the first two grants and will follow up with SouthFace to better understand why the final grant was denied.  SouthFace had recommended that we make energy-saving improvements at an increased project cost, including sanctuary EnergyStar windows, doors, and the vestibule. While we had counted on SouthFace funding for those impactful improvements, there is no doubt that the recommended measures will serve UUCA and our planet as we honor our 7th principle.

While it seems like we’ve nothing but disappointing news to report above, we are moving into an exciting construction phase.  Work began this week on our new parking lot and will continue for the next four weeks.  The exterior playground ADA ramp is coming along nicely, and millwork and cabinetry are showing up in the classrooms.  The elevator installation and the exterior painting of the building both begin next week.

“GoodUse provides technical assistance and funding in the form of matching grants to nonprofits to assist them with resource efficiency upgrades to their facilities. These upgrades save the nonprofit valuable funds on utility bills that can be reallocated into their mission. Information about GoodUse can be found here .”