Phone: (225) 926.2291 8470 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806
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Great Expectations Capital/Growth Fund
Thank you for continuing support and patience during our Great Expectations projects.
It is not unusual for adjustments and corrections to be made after projects of the scope and size of our parking lot are completed and before final payment for construction is made. We continue to work with Reich and Associates and Hardrock Construction on solutions to ground water problems, electrical problems and some issues with the fountain. After the ground water problems are solved, sodding and replacement of concrete in the parking lot will be completed. Landscaping will begin after the electrical and ground water problems are solved. Your patience through these adjustments is appreciated. Please adhere to safety precautions in areas in which work is being done.
Future newsletters will provide updates on Phase II of our Great Expectations projects - "Our Sanctuary: Creating A More Sacred and Accessible Space to Gather in Diverse Worship."
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, April, 2017
The newly sodded areas of the church campus are taking hold and the vibrant green grass popping up is a sure sign that spring is on the way. Even as we enjoy using the new parking areas, Neal Stoltzfus and Bill Rountree continue to work with our architects, Reich and Associates, and representatives from Hardrock Construction Company.
The finishing touches for our new parking and courtyard areas will be in progress the next several weeks. This will involve replacement of concrete in several areas. Please use the kitchen or rear RE entrances if the main entrance is taped off.
On the Green For Green front, the irrigation system is nearing completion and being tested. When completed, there will be another truckload of sod to install to prevent erosion. Further landscaping and tree planting are in the design stage.
Even as these matters related to the parking lot are completed, planning for improvements to the sanctuary is already underway. Look to future newsletters for updates on Phase II of our Great Expectations projects as described in the Campaign's brochure - "Our Sanctuary: Creating A More Sacred and Accessible Space to Gather in Diverse Worship."
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, March, 2017
The re-dedication of the Peace Stones following the annual Martin Luther King Day service was a fitting finale to a day dedicated to peace and non-violence. The silent procession from the sanctuary to the Peace Meadow following both services set the mood for the occasion. Water from the new fountain provided the source for the ritual of hand-cleansing and pouring over "Fear Less" and "Love More," the names given to the iconic Peace Stones. The Senior Youth played a major role in this day that will surely be remembered as a singular occasion in our church's history. The visibility of the Peace Stones will signify to passers-by our church's dedication to peace, while for our members and others who choose to drop in, the Peace Meadow with its surrounding seating will be a welcoming place for quiet meditation and reflection.
The recent sodding of the Peace Meadow and other areas is one more sign of the near-completion of the new parking lot, and a hint at the beauty we can enjoy through all seasons when landscaping is completed. Reaching the $100,000 goal of the Green-for-Green project is needed to make that happen. Please consider making a contribution if you have not done so, or increasing your contribution if you have. Donations made by check should specify G-for-G and can be dropped in collection bags or mailed to the office. Donations of cash can also be placed in containers located throughout the church. Your contributions to the landscaping will help fulfill the "vision of beauty" envisioned in the planning of our new parking lot and church campus.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, February, 2017
Despite a few finishing touches needed to complete the project, the "All Clear" was music to the ears and especially welcome to members who drove onto the new parking lot for services on a cold and rainy Sunday before Christmas. Water flowing from the fountain was also welcoming as members resumed normal entry to the sanctuary. And so we begin the new year with joy at the near-completion of this major project that was delayed in its early stages by the historic floods of August 2016 and other unexpected delays along the way. Through it all, normal church attendance continued in the spirit of "The Church That Shows Up!" as members adjusted to the inconvenience of the alternative parking arrangements. The eventual completion of landscaping will make the new parking lot the enhancement to our church campus that was the goal of our Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign. Contributions to the "Green-for-Green" project to reach the goal of $100,000 needed for irrigation and landscaping will make it a reality. Thanks to GE Steering Team chair Neal Stoltzfus for regular on-the-scene supervision of the project, along with help from team member Bill Rountree.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, January 1, 2017
Our Greatest Expectation will be realized within the coming weeks. The Peace Stones are in place on the raised foundation, making it a highly visible centerpiece for our campus and with its surrounding seating walls a place for gathering for many occasions. The fountain in the courtyard is nearing completion and coming alive with flowing water. The fountain and the sound of the falling waters will be a welcoming feature as members and visitors approach the sanctuary and as we gather in the courtyard after services. With some needed finishing touches to the parking lot, the "all clear" to begin using it is expected to be an early and welcome Christmas gift. If you haven't done so already, consider a contribution toward the $100,000 needed for irrigation and landscaping to complete the landscaping. Our new and revitalized campus will soon fulfill the vision of our Great Expectations Campaign. Payments on your pledges is what did it. Thanks and congratulations.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, December 1, 2016
Our new parking lot is well underway. Concrete now covers all the parking areas, sidewalks have been completed, and seat-walls that will provide seating around the Peace Stones are nearing completion. The fountain that will be the centerpiece in the new courtyard is taking shape. So, as our contractors complete their work in the coming weeks, the expectation is that irrigation will begin with the $40,000 collected to date in the Green-for-Green Project, with landscaping to be added when we reach the projected goal of $100,000 in Green-for-Green. The landscaped parking lot we’ve envisioned is in near sight.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, November 1, 2016
With the anticipation that concrete will soon cover parking areas, the current focus of the Great Expectations Steering Team is on irrigation and landscaping. At a meeting of the Team on September 20 discussions centered on selection of trees and other plantings for landscaping, to be funded by the Green-for-Green funding project. We currently have $40,000 of the $100,000 goal the congregation approved and will proceed with irrigation and critical plantings as the current project nears completion. The Team also discussed grasses and groundcovers to prevent soil erosion, and possibilities for needed maintenance of landscaped areas. Team member and landscape architect Bill Rountree noted that due to the delay in paving of parking areas because of recent heavy rains, the projected completion of the parking lot in late October or early November when temperatures will be cooler will provide conditions more conducive for plantings and grass seeding. Questions related to irrigation, landscaping, and the current status of construction of the parking lot can be directed to Team Chair Neal Stoltfus or Bill Rountree, who meet regularly with contractors with Hardrock Construction Company. Other GES Team members include Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Vicky Smith, Sally Wood, and Reverend Steve Crump, ex officio.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, Great Expectations, October 1, 2016
The bright orange fences that signifies to passers-by that construction is underway on our church campus is visible to members from the inside looking out. What we saw on that first Sunday after work began was mounds of mud and hollow space where we once saw red bricks leading into the fountain, green plants, and blooming flowers. Demolition of the breezeway and walkways to the sanctuary and Fellowship Hall soon followed - mounds of mud translating to progress. Evidence of that progress is that looking out to those same areas we now see new concrete in the courtyard and walks to the sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, and through the archways. That gives hope that in the not too distant future we may look out and see new concrete in the parking areas. That is when we will start to envision a new and finished parking lot, landscaped with beautiful plants and flowers. Our Green-for-Green fundraising fund will make that vision possible. Green containers can be found around the church for your "green" cash, or checks of any color, clearly identified in the subject line as "GG". You'll be proud to help bring the vision of our beautiful new parking lot into focus.
We have photos of some of the work in progress on page 6 of the August newsletter. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, August 1, 2016
The bright orange fences that have bordered the construction areas of our church campus since early June are a visible reassurance that Phase I of our Great Expectations project is underway. The initial work began with demolition of the fountain and areas of the breezeway. We are well on the way to realizing our dreams for our new parking lot, Peace Meadow, and Courtyard.
As is inevitable in construction of the scope of this project, problem areas are likely to crop up in the course of the work. A case in point was discovery that the health of the large live oak that is on the street side of the current parking lot would be compromised with the paving for the new parking lot. The root system would not have the space needed to grow, and the substantial trimming needed on the side of the parking lot would destroy its viability for future growth and beauty. In the light of these foreseeable problems and after careful deliberation, the consensus of the GES Team was to remove the live oak, and to extend the green space with appropriate-sized trees and other plantings. This new area of landscaping will be a part of the Green-for-Green donation solicitations.
And speaking of Green-for-Green: donations in cash or by check can be placed in the bright green receptacles that can be found around the church. Be sure to mark checks GG. Becky Cureau, Great Expectations Communications Chair, July 1, 2016
Good news – here are the words you've waited patiently to hear: construction will soon be underway on our new parking lot and other exterior projects! Board president Melanie Mayeaux and Rev. Steve Crump signed the contract with Hardrock Construction Company in the offices of our architects, Reich Associates, on Tuesday, May 22, and a pre-construction meeting was held in the church office later the same day. The contractor is anxious to get started, and earth-moving equipment will likely already be in place by the time you read this happy news. Pray for sunny skies and a minimum of rain for the work to be completed within the 90 to 120 days projected for completion.
Once the jubilation over this long-awaited announcement dies down, we will all need to call upon the patience that has brought us to this point to see us through the construction. Parking will be across Goodwood Boulevard for members and visitors, with entry through the door to the kitchen. Parking in the adjacent medical complex will be reserved for handicap parking for members and visitors with mobility problems. Other related information will be given in weekly announcements and at Sunday services. Construction notwithstanding, the busy life of our church will go on as usual and you’ll want to be present each Sunday to check out the progress on the parking lot. This is an exciting time in our church as we look beyond the temporary inconveniences of construction to the completion of Phase One of our Great Expectations projects. Let the Hallelujahs ring out! Rebecca Cureau, Communications Chair, June 1, 2016
At the Annual Congregational meeting on April 17, two actions by the quorum in attendance have put us closer to beginning construction on Phase 1 Great Expectations projects:
*Authorization to reallocate $150,000 of Great Expectations Capital Growth Funds in order to sign a contract to begin construction of the new parking lot, Peace meadow, and courtyard. The contract with the winning bidder is expected to have been signed by the time you read this exciting news.
* Authorization to support an additional funding effort of $100,000. Known as "Green-For-Green," this effort will fund the installation of irrigation and landscaping in the Peace Meadow, courtyard, and parking areas. (Note that gifts to this funding effort and other gifts to the church made by check should be clearly identified as: OB –operating budget; GE - Great Expectations; and GG – Green-For-Green, landscaping and irrigation funding). See page 7 for Green-For-Green form.
Prior to commencement of construction, earth from behind the Peace Stones will be removed in ritual and prayer at the close of each service on Sunday, May 29, and relocated to a new and permanent resting place. The entire congregation is welcome to participate.
The Great Expectations Steering Team is grateful to the Congregation for their enthusiastic authorizations that make it possible to move forward on this long-awaited project. GES Team members are grateful to Team Chair Neal Stoltzfus for his leadership through this long process and his work beyond the innumerable hours of GES meetings with our architects over the past two or more years. Thanks, Neal.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, May 1, 2016
At their meeting in early February members of the Great Expectations Steering Team reviewed two bids submitted by our architects for construction of the parking lot and exterior projects. Of the two, the bid that was favored by the Team was more than one-hundred thousand dollars over the amount approved by the Board and voted by the congregation for the project. The architects were asked to re-open the bidding process and to include solicitation of bids from several contractors recommended by members of the Team. The re-bidding process was still in progress as of the newsletter deadline. A report on the outcome will be forthcoming at a later date.
It goes without saying that the attention of the GE Steering Team and our membership has been largely focused on the parking lot and exterior projects for the past several years. As important as this project is, however, it may be well to remember that it is but one of three ambitious goals of the Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign launched in 2012, to which members pledged more than one and a half million dollars - making it the most successful capital campaign in our church's history. Hence, this may be a good time to revisit the three projects encompassed in the GE campaign and to celebrate what has already been accomplished. The goals of the GE Campaign were: I. Our Parking Lot and Peacestones: A Safe and Accessible Campus and Memorial Area; II. Our Sanctuary: Creating A More Sacred and Accessible Space to Gather in Diverse Worship; and III. Expanded Staffing: Increase Our Capacity for a Growing Membership and Ministry. Goal III has been largely accomplished in the hiring of The Reverend Nathan Ryan as our Assistant Minister, and more recently, the hiring of Heath Hebert as Business Administrator; a Director of Communicators is expected to be hired in the foreseeable future. Attention is now turning to enhancements to the sanctuary encompassed in Goal II, and planning will begin as soon as the bid for the parking lot has been finalized. To be sure, we have not been at a stand still in fulfilling the goals of the GE Campaign.
Why not take this re-visitation a step further: take out your copy of the attractive Great Expectations brochure and be inspired anew by the vision for the present and future of our vibrant and thriving congregation that prompted the generosity of our members to make pledges to the Capital Growth Campaign, for which payments have been largely fulfilled. We are, indeed, a generous and forward-looking church community. Becky Cureau, Great Expectations Communications Chairperson, March 1, 2016
In its final meeting of 2015 the Great Expectations Steering Team heard an update from Team Chair Neal Stoltzfus and Team member Bill Rountree on their meeting with our architects. Major discussions centered on repositioning of light poles and trees to provide maximum lighting to the parking areas. With those and draining issues resolved, the GES Team did a final review of construction drawings, and gave approval for Reich Associates to proceed with solicitation of bids, which went out in December.
At an early meeting in January the GES Team will review bids submitted by the architects and select a bid within our budget. Our expectation is that a start date for beginning construction will be announced early in the new-year. Our confident new-year prediction is that we will see the completion of our parking lot and exterior projects within the foreseeable future, with a grand celebration of the accomplishment of this important goal of our Great Expectations in 2016. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, January 1, 2016
The last week of November found members of the Great Expectations Steering Team reviewing the final plans for the Parking Lot and other exterior projects. After the final review we expect to be ready for bid solicitations before the end of the year. Bid Solicitations will be done by our architects, Reich Associates. The Team's expectation is that the early months of the new year will see the completion of all the needed steps prior to announcement of a start date for the beginning of the projects. We feel safe in predicting that by mid-2016 or possibly earlier we will celebrate completion of our new Parking Lot, raised Peace Stones and landscaped Peace Garden, and Courtyard with a sparkling fountain. The GES Team appreciates your patience and understanding as we undertook the steps needed to ensure that this first phase of the renovation projects meets the goals of our Great Expectations Campaign. We are humbled by your confidence in entrusting us with the task of planning this monumental undertaking. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair December 1, 2015
The Great Expectations Steering Team is pleased to report that final touches are being made to construction documents now that several required adjustments to the Parking Lot and exterior project design have been resolved. The new sewer line design is complete, light poles have been placed to provide good lighting coverage, and drainage in the courtyard area is being finalized.
Next steps include the Team's approval of the cover letter for the bid packages, then the solicitation of bids by our architects, Reich Associates. The Team will then evaluate bid responses for cost and earliest start date. As noted previously, the anticipated project time is approximately 90 to 120 days once construction is begun.
The GES Team is keenly aware of members' anxiety to see construction of the parking lot underway. However, in addition to the necessity to comply with city regulations, we are confident that the time required to make the needed adjustments to the design will result in a Parking Lot, Peace Meadow, and Courtyard that will serve our needs far into the future and of which we will be proud. We look forward to announcing the finalization of the steps enumerated above within the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
As always, GES Team members are happy to respond to questions you may have regarding the current status of project planning. Team members include Team Leader Neal Stoltzfus, Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Bill Rountree, Vicky Smith, Sally Wood, and Ministries Team Leader Steve Crump, ex officio. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, Great Expectations Team, November 1, 2015
While the new parking lot and other exterior improvements to our church campus have been front and center for the past months, the September 13 Congregational meeting provided the opportunity for members in attendance to be reminded of another important goal of the Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign: the addition of staff for efficient administration of our church. Introductory to the presentation of the proposed Operating Budget for 2016, Reverend Steve Crump, Ministry Team Leader and ex officio of the Great Expectations Steering Team, announced the hiring of a part-time Business Administrator and introduced Heath Hebert, who explained aspects of the proposed 2016 Operating Budget. Reverend Crump announced that following development of a job description; a part-time Director of Communications will also be hired in the foreseeable future, which will complete implementation of the goal. The earlier hiring of our Assistant Minister, the Reverend Nathan Ryan, was the first step in implementation of the stated GE Campaign goal of "Expanded Staffing: Increase Our Capacity for a Growing Membership and Ministry."
The second item on the agenda was an update of the status of the parking lot and other outdoor projects. GES Team Leader Neal Stoltzfus introduced Team members Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Bill Rountree, Vicky Smith, and Sally Wood, who gave brief highlights of project areas:
I. Parking Lot Construction Planning (new entrance, enhanced parking, handicapped spaces, lighting, and plantings)
II. Plantings and Drainage (underground piping to handle the first inch of rain, water source to maintain plantings, new trees and green areas)
III. Peace Stones and Memorial Area (Memorial area for scattering, spaces for gathering, benches for quiet meditation)
IV. Walkways, Entrance, and Courtyard (Plantings, outdoor space, fountain)
V. Reserved Space (Planning for future growth, expansion, and a new vision)
Neal Stoltzfus discussed Next Steps, which included an update on pipeline requirements and relocation of sewer pipes. He noted that architectural drawings were expected to be finalized and available for review by the GES Team within the coming weeks, and, once approved, let out for bids by Reich and Associates. The actual start date for construction will depend on the schedule of the winning contractor, with the anticipated project time to be approximately 90 to 120 days to completion. Weather and other unforeseen delays notwithstanding, the happy take away from the updates was that the closing months of this year will find us moving from "Great Expectations” to a “Great Realization" in early 2016. Stay tuned.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair Great Expectations, October 1, 2015
The Great Expectation Steering Team understands and shares members' eagerness to see construction underway on our long-awaited parking lot and other projects. With the goal of keeping members informed of where we are in the process, the Team held an Informational Session following both services on August 23. Members in attendance had the opportunity to see a schematic drawing, hear updates on where we are with the beginning of construction, and raise questions and get answers on various matters related to the projects from GES Team leader Neal Stoltzfus and Team members. What attendees learned is that:
1. We are at the stage of approving final construction drawings for Phase One projects;
2. Once finalized, the construction drawings will be let out for bids. Reich Associates, the architects for the projects, will oversee the bidding process;
3. After the bidding process, the GES Team will review the bids. Selection of a construction company will be based on criteria that will include quality of previous work of bidding companies based on observation by members of the GES Team, with the cost also an important criterion for selection;
4. Once a construction company is selected, the date for beginning of construction will depend on the construction company's current schedule.
The GES Team's hope is that the reasons for delays enumerated in the August newsletter are countered with the current prospect that finalization of the preliminary steps to construction is now in near sight. In our work as a Team, and with our architects, our guiding principle has been that the magnitude and importance of this project in the near and distant future life of our church warranted the time and careful planning the process required. We are confident that the patience that has been demonstrated through this long planning phase will prevail through the construction from start to finish, and that it will be rewarded with a new Parking Lot, Peace Meadow, and Courtyard that will merit our justified pride. We are on the brink of realizing one of the dreams of our Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign! Becky Cureau, Great Expectations Communication Chairperson 9-1-15
The symbolic ground breaking in June doubtlessly raised hopes that heavy earth-moving equipment would soon be seen on our church grounds. Unfortunately, the delay in beginning construction of the parking lot and other exterior projects has been due to several factors that the GES Team has worked with the architects to resolve in the past weeks. The major reasons for for the delay were:
1) The pipeline company required a review of plans and additional work on the pipeline; they must issue an encroachment permit before UCBR can apply to the City's permit office.
2) The original estimate for the project was $345,000 over the construction budget, which required trimming costs from the original plans. This included moving the rain canopy, which was added late in the design process, to a second phase
3) Additional funding required was requested from undesignated special funds and approved by the Board
4) A less expensive alternative to the fountain in the original design needed to be researched, and consensus on replacement reached by Team members.
We currently expect that the revised construction drawings will be complete by mid-August and ready to be put out for bids. The GES Team will select a contractor after the bidding process, but the date for the beginning of construction will depend on the contractor's schedule.
Informational Sessions regarding the foregoing will be held on Sunday, August 23, 10:35am in the church office, and 12:30pm in the church sanctuary. The GES Team will host an Information Table in the Breezeway or Fellowship Hall on the Sundays preceding to provide information and answer your questions.
Eagerness to see construction underway on these long-awaited projects is understandable. The unforeseen delays notwithstanding, the GES Team feels certain that once completed, the new Parking Lot, Peace Meadow, and Courtyard with Fountain will fulfill all our greatest expectations. Your patience and understanding are deeply appreciated. Becky Cureau, Great Expectations Communications Chair, August 1, 2016
The ritual groundbreaking after services on June 14, 2015, was a signal event in the life of our church. The small keepsake container of soil that members took away serves as a reminder of the far-sighted and visionary actions of those founders and early pillars who purchased these grounds as the place to permanently "plant" Unitarian Universalism in the citiy of Baton Rouge, then built and dedicated our first sanctuary fifty years ago. Observing that milestone along with the ritual groundbreaking for forthcoming projects seems significantly symbolic, connecting our past, present, and future here on Goodwood Boulevard where those visionaries chose to build our permanent home.
As for the near future portended in the ritual groundbreaking: drawings for the parking lot, relocation of the Peace Stones, and courtyard with a new fountain are better than 90% complete as the Great Expectations Steering Team continues weekly meetings with the architect to make refinements and work out other related details. Once completed, the drawings will be let out for bids, after which the congregation will meet to vote on acceptance of the winning bid. Speak to GES Team leader Neal Stoltzfus or Team members Becky Cureau, Bill Rountree, Vicky Smith, or Sally Wood if you have questions. Ministries Team Leader Steve Crump serves as ex officio on the team.
In the meantime, expenses of operating the facilities, paying the professional staff, and meeting other financial obligations continue as usual. With the summer months many members will be occupied with travel and other activities. Please remember to pay your pledges to the Operating Budget and Great Expectations whether staying home or getting away, or arrange for advance or automatic bank or online payments. Thanks as always for your support of our spiritual home as you try to stay cool through the summer heat of Baton Rouge, or travel to cooler climes. Happy Summer. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair GES July 2015
The ground breaking for the new parking lot and exterior enhancements, an event to which we have looked forward with much anticipation, will take place at morning services on Sunday, June 14 and will be an all-church event. So attention all children, youth, members and friends: bring a spoon or other implement for breaking ground and plan to be part of this joyous and historic occasion.
The services will also mark another historic event in the life of our faith community: the 50th anniversary of the dedication of our first sanctuary, now known as Fellowship Hall. In 1964 the ground breaking for our first permanent home was an occasion of much jubilation. Since its founding in 1951, the small membership of what was then the Unitarian Fellowship of Baton Rouge moved from one rented location to another for its Sunday meetings, spending its longest "settlement" at a house on Government Street. But the members had dreams of a home of their own, and worked to realize their dreams. The eventual purchase of the land that now comprises our large campus and costs of construction of that first building were funded primarily by small donations and frequent fund-raisers: bake sales, spaghetti dinners, "rummage sales," and other ingenious means of raising money.
The double celebration is therefore symbolically significant, for both reflect the visionary spirit that has characterized our membership from its very beginnings. Even so, it is unlikely that our founders and the pillars who came after them could have envisioned the sanctuary they built with such pride being replaced twenty-three years later by a larger sanctuary that is now too small to hold its growing membership in one service. And they would likely be astounded by the success of a capital campaign that by far exceeded both the cost of the construction of the sanctuary of which they were so proud and the land on which it was built.
But the visionary seeds they planted blossomed into other enlargements to our property through the years, and into the leap of faith of our most recent capital campaign. One day in the foreseeable future, we will have another historic celebration when we dedicate a new and expanded parking lot, repositioned Peace Stones on a newly landscaped Peace Meadow, and a courtyard centered by a new Acree Memorial Fountain - all because of the generosity of members who caught and pledged to the vision of the Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign. Appreciation for our new-day visionaries is boundless, as is appreciation for all who faithfully pay their pledges to the Annual Budget that supports everyday expenses of this sacred space we call our spiritual home. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, May 31, 2015
The positive and unanimous vote at the April 19 Congregational Meeting on the three motions approved by the Board at its March 17 meeting brings to closer reality the commencement of construction of the parking lot and exterior enhancements; renovations for the implementation of solar panel installation; and installation of a central management control system and selective replacement of HVAC system with high efficiency units. The unanimous vote may have reflected a deeper understanding of the "nuts and bolts" of these projects by members who attended informational sessions held the preceding Sunday, when GES Team members gave detailed presentations and responded to questions and comments of attendees. The shorter, summary presentations that preceded the vote may have likewise helped to fortify confidence in the planning that has preceded, and readiness to move forward with these projects.
The burning question now is "When will construction begin?" The hopeful answer is in June, near Summer Solstice. Over the past weeks the architects have been drafting final design plans that reflect suggested modifications to the parking lot, courtyard, fountain, covered drop-off area, and other refinements. Their presentations at the next meeting with the GES Team will include finalized construction plans and specifications. A Congregational Meeting will be called for members to accept the final plans, after which the specifications will be released for bids. The board-appointed GES Team works on behalf of the membership, and comments and feedback from members is invaluable in its ongoing work toward the eventual completion of this monumental undertaking. Team chair Neal Stoltzfus, and members Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Bill Roundtree, Vicky Smith, and Sally Wood are always happy to respond to questions and receive your comments as we move through the stages of these projects. Reverend Steve Crump, the Ministry Team Leader, serves as ex officio.
The availability of $695,000 in Great Expectations funds to begin work on these major projects is possible because of pledges paid in full by some members and by continuous payments toward pledges by others. First quarter financial statements received recently include current status of pledges made to Great Expectations, as well as to the Annual Operating Budget. Your faithful payment of pledges and and support of our church's present and future will be rewarded when we realize the benefits of solar powered energy and an efficient central management control system for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning. And, oh yes - the new parking lot, inner courtyard for gathering, gently bubbling fountain, and exterior beautification of our church grounds. We can hardly wait. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, May 1, 2015
The Great Expectations Steering Team continues a regular schedule of meetings, with each meeting focusing on some aspect of the projected finalization of the design for our exterior spaces: the parking lot, landscaping, and relocation of the Peace Stones. The March 3rd meeting with our architects focused on ease and safety of parking for our members in the new parking lot with special attention to entry to the parking lot from the street, creation of new spaces, ease of entry to parking areas, positioning of vehicles, safety in exiting vehicles, and safe entry to our church. Of utmost concern to the Team and our architects are plans that consider safe movement of our vehicles, especially keeping our children in mind, as vehicles move in, and back out of parking spaces. The goal is not merely a new parking lot, but parking areas and spaces that fulfill the parking needs of our growing congregation in relation to both utility and safety.
Other meetings, which included GES members and other church members, have focused on our church's energy consumption, and HVAC central management and upgrade for greater energy efficiency. Also under discussion has been installation of solar panels for generation of electricity. The goal is efficient management of energy consumption for our church.
At the Congregational Meeting On Sunday, April 19 members will get updates on the status of architectural designs for Phase I of Great Expectations, and vote on three motions related to expenditures from Great Expectations funds which were approved by the Board at its March 17 meeting. You won't want to miss this important Congregational Meeting and the opportunity to be part of the decision-making process for this important work for our present and our future.
The GES Team is energized by the progress being made toward finalization of plans for launching our first Great Expectations projects, and other activities that reflect the forward movement of our church. The role that we all play in both the present stability and that "forward movement" is faithfully paying monthly pledges toward the Operating Budget, and continued payment of Great Expectations pledges. As always, be sure to indicate OP or GE on checks or online payments. And, as always, know that your support of our church is deeply appreciated. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair for Great Expectations. April 1, 2015
Members of the Great Expectation Steering Team met with architect Marchia Cuddeback, and landscape architects from Reich Associates in a "Project Phase Kick-off" meeting on February 3. The primary thrust of the meeting was a presentation by the architects of projected activities for the coming months through the summer. At a meeting on February 24 the architects will present the results of the current activities of Phase One, design development. Phase Two, to begin this month, will include construction plans and specifications, with projected release of specifications for bids following a Congregational Meeting to accept the final plans. Phase Three, to which we look forward with great anticipation, will be construction following a groundbreaking celebration at a date to be announced. GES members Neal Stoltzfus, chair, Becky Cureau, Bill Rountree, Vicky Smith, and Sally Wood had the opportunity to react to and raise questions about the projected timeline while being enthusiastically encouraged by the progress toward finalization of the designs for the parking lot, landscaping, and relocation of the Peace Stones. Team member Diana Dorroh was unable to attend.
While meeting and working regularly with the architects on Great Expectations projects, some GES Team members are also working along with others on several green initiatives. These include energy management, solar energy for electricity, placement of a compost facility for yard waste, and a plan for a landscape that is easy to maintain. If you have a special interest in any of these green initiatives, speak to GES Team chair Neal Stoltzfus for meeting times.
Our church is alive and buzzing with these and other activities that engage members of our Board, Teams, and many individuals. At the same time, our ministers and other paid and volunteer staff tend to the ongoing work of the church, all of which is supported by the Operating Budget. Take it as a matter of well-deserved pride that your faithful payment of pledges to the Operating Budget ensure the stability of our church, while payment of pledges to Great Expectations insure fulfillment of plans for our continuing growth as a beacon for Unitarian Universalism in our city and region. Be sure to indicate Operating Budget or GE pledge on checks or online payments for proper crediting. And thanks as always for your support of our church. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, Great Expectations Steering Team, March 1, 2015
We are buoyed by the prospect of beginning Phase One of our Great Expectations projects: the parking lot, landscaping, and relocation of the Peace Stones. But before the first spade of ground is turned in the foreseeable future (or to quote our fearless GES Team Chair: "in the fullness of time..."), there are a number of critical steps as yet to be undertaken, as explained in presentations at the January 25 Congregational Meeting. In addition to ongoing pre-construction activities these include a much-needed energy management initiative, updating plans for parking, and finalizing construction documents for bid solicitation. The Great Expectations Steering Team continues to meet with the architect as plans continue to develop. There will be opportunities to see final drawings for projects prior to a Congregational Meeting this spring, when members will vote on funding for the accepted bids.
As we move closer to actualization of projects that started as dreams and aspirations in Cottage Meetings almost ten years ago, we might all take a measure of pride in how steadily we have moved toward realizing those dreams that became our Great Expectations. As we move into the fourth year since the launching of the Capital Growth Campaign, we barely remember our exuberant joy in exceeding our goal of $1,580,000 in pledges. And now another reason for joy, with thanks to those who have paid their pledges in full or in part in the amount of $1,002,000 - sufficient to inspire confidence in the completion of Phase One. Members of the GES Team: Neal Stoltzfus, chair, Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Vicky Smith, Bill Rountree, and Sally Wood are honored by the confidence you have placed in them to be faithful stewards of your investment in this undertaking for the future of our church, and energized by your ongoing interest and support.
The positive vote to accept the 2015 Operational Budget, funded by pledges made during the fall THRIVE Pledge Drive, ensures the daily operation of our church. Faithful monthly payment of pledges to the Operating Budget and completion of payment of Great Expectations pledges are crucial to ensuring our present stability and our future growth and standing as a standard-bearer for Unitarian Universalism in our region. Becky Cureau, Communication Chair Feb. 1, 2015
With the new-year come hopes and visions of what lies ahead in the unfolding months. And that is our stance in regard to the launching of our first Great Expectations projects in 2015. The old year ended with the church contracting with Reich Associates, a local landscape architectural firm, to lead the GES Team through design development for Phase One and subsequently to create final construction documents for bid solicitation. That process will continue in the early weeks of the new-year. At the Congregational Meeting on January 25, members will vote on the 2015 Operating Budget and there will be a status report from the Great Expectations Team. Be prepared for great things happening in the coming months. In the interim, members can direct questions or concerns to GES Team members or attend GES meetings. Check the online calendar for meetings dates and times. Team members include Neal Stoltzfus, chair, Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Bill Rountree, Vicky Smith, and Sally Wood.
Great Expectations pledges are being paid with regularity, which bodes well for our hopes of having the needed funds to undertake initial Great Expectations projects. A similar faithfulness is needed for pledges to the Operating Budget. January marks the beginning of the new budget year, funded by pledges to the 2015 Operating Budget made during the THRIVE Pledge Drive. A good resolution to put at the top of new year's resolutions is regular payment to Operating Budget pledges each month, or ahead if finances permit. This will help insure that our church's financial health is good the entire year. Fulfilling financial pledges is a testimony of our faith in the present and future of this church that we love so dearly and a means for ensuring its strong Unitarian Universalist presence in Baton Rouge. Let’s make it a healthy and happy new year for our church – and for ourselves. Becky Cureau, Great Expectations Communication Chair 01/01/15
It is typical for undertakings such as those encompassed in Our Great Expectations projects to seemingly take an inordinate amount of time in the planning and preliminary stages, but which, in reality is what is required for undertakings such as our parking lot and exterior spaces. Be assured that there is steady progress toward concrete action. See the good-news updates and other information about where we are in this phase of the project from GE Steering Team chair Neal Stoltzfus on page 6 of the newsletter.
And, as we move toward that concrete action, the Great Expectations Steering Team has been working on the transition to the Design Development phase, which will be lead by Reich Associates. The next meeting of the GES Team is tentatively set for Thursday, December 4 at 5pm. Check the online church calendar for updates and confirmations of meeting times. Members of the GES Team welcome questions, comments, or suggestions at church, by email, or by phone. Team members include Neal Stoltzfus, chair (firstname.lastname@example.org);
Becky Cureau (email@example.com),
Diana Dorroh (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Bill Rountree (email@example.com),
Vicky Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org), and
Sally Wood (email@example.com). Phone numbers are available in the church directory or through the office.
Generous pledges made to the Capital Growth Campaign and regular payments on pledges give confidence for completion of the projects, while regular payments of pledges to the annual operating budget insure a steady income for the smooth operation of the church. The difference is that GE pledges have a period of three years in which to complete payments, while it is critical that pledges to the annual operating budget be paid in full by the end of December. Please be sure to note "Operating budget" or "GE pledge on checks or online payments to insure proper credit. Your generous support of our church during 2014 is deeply appreciated. We look forward with joyous anticipation to the new year - another year to grow and THRIVE. Happy Holidays.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, December 2014
While anticipation runs high for visible signs of progress on the long-awaited parking lot, the necessary preliminary groundwork continues behind the scenes. Since the vote of the September 7 Congregational Meeting, much of the work of the Great Expectations Steering Team has centered on preparations to move to the next level of planning, including assimilating comments, ideas and suggestions from Q & A sessions prior to and at the Congregational Meeting. More recently, Marsha Cuddeback, our architect, met with Director of Religious Education Beth Williams and the RE Team to hear their concerns and ideas. Additionally, comments concerning programmatic use of our exterior spaces have been solicited in writing on newsprint located in the hallway near the church office. As planning continues, comments and questions can be communicated to the GE Steering Team, which includes Neal Stoltzfus, chair, Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Bill Rountree, Vicky Smith, and Sally Wood.
The Great Expectations Steering Team meets regularly at times published on the church's website. Recent meetings have focused on development of a covenant for how the group will work together as it continues to fulfill its role of overseeing and directing the actualization of the dreams of the Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign. As the Team's intensive work enters the third year, members are ever mindful of the trust placed in them as signified in appointment by the board to be stewards of this historic undertaking to insure the present and future growth of our church.
Meantime, regular payments to pledges to the Great Expectations Campaign are the financial means of insuring our present and future growth - of insuring the present and future of a strong progressive and liberal religious presence in Baton Rouge. Likewise, regular payments to pledges to the Annual Operating Budget insure stability in the day to day operations of the church. Be sure to write "GE" or "OB" on checks or online payments to insure accurate credit. Your ongoing support of our beloved faith community is deeply appreciated. Together we will continue to THRIVE! Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, Great Expectations Steering Team, November 1, 2014.
Following the positive vote on the motion presented at the September 7 Congregational Meeting, the architect can now begin design development for parking and peace meadow, taking into consideration suggestions and ideas made at Sunday morning Q & A sessions and at the Congregational meeting. The vote authorized expenditure of $75,000 from the Great Expectation Capital Growth Fund to support the next stages of the design process and the eventual solicitation of bids. Next steps include planning for infrastructure for draining our site and avoiding all the existing underground plumbing on our property, together with the myriad details of materials and parish building codes. The Great Expectations Steering Team continues to meet regularly with the architect as planning and development of our long-held hopes for a new parking lot progress.
As the architectural and engineering professionals work to create a detailed design matching our aspirations to available funding and parish building code regulations, members can follow the progress by reading this column, attend a planning presentation to be announced later this fall, or communicate with GE Steering Team members with questions or suggestions. Team members include Neal Stoltzfus, chair, Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Vicky Smith, Sally Wood, and Kay Zimmerman. Check the website calendar for GES meeting times.
The motion to approve the position of Executive Director and Electronic Media Coordinator also passed with a positive vote at the Congregational Meeting. The funding plan supports the position with staff support funds of $253,000 from the Great Expectations Capital Growth Funds on an annual declining basis combined with a congregational commitment to steadily increase contributions to fully support these positions from the annual budget after five years.
The congregation's vote to proceed with these two major goals marks a significant milestone in the Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign, launched two years ago this month. We are well on our way with planning and tangible progress toward fulfilling dreams for our church that began in those Cottage Meeting sessions of five years ago: Our Parking Lot and Peacestones: A Safe and Accessible Memorial Area; and Expanded Staffing to Increase Our Capacity for a Growing Membership and Ministry. All that is needed now is faithful payment of pledges so that we can fulfill all our Great Expectations. Becky Cureau, Communications Chair, Great Expectations Steering Committee, October 1, 2014
We stand at the brink of undertaking phase one of the first goal of the Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign, Our Parking Lot and Peacestones: A Safe and Accessible Campus and Memorial Area. Members had the opportunity to see the architect's design for the exterior master plan for this goal presented by architect Marsha Cuddeback and landscape architect Jon Emerson on August 17, and to raise questions and provide feedback. Similar opportunities were available on two subsequent Sundays. A recent mailing to all members included a reduction of the master plan with side-bar commentary, and background information for the vote to be taken at the Congregational Meeting on Sunday, September 7 to approve the conceptual master plan for the exterior campus, authorize award of a contract for the creation of construction drawings and solicitation of construction bids.
Part of the Campaign's goal of Expanding Staffing to Increase Our Capacity for Growing Membership and Ministry was realized with the hiring of our Assistant Minister, Nathan Ryan, over two years ago. Another vote at the Congregational Meeting will approve the creation of the positions of Executive Director and Technology Ministry, and funding plans to support the two positions. Rationale for these positions and their funding are included in the recent mailing to all members, as well as rationale for the Proposed 2015 Annual Budget, which will also be voted on at the meeting. These thoroughly detailed materials were provided to allow your informed votes at the September 7 Congregational Meeting.
What has brought us to this exciting place in the history of our church is the success of our Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign and pledges that exceeded the Campaign's goal of $1, 580,000 by members who caught the vision for our church's present and future! Continuing regular payments of those generous pledges will insure the full realization of all our Great Expectations. Timely payment of pledges to the annual operating budget likewise insures our continued stability and growth. You deserve to take a bow and to be proud of your caring support of our beloved and Wholly Unitarian Universalist faith community. Becky Cureau, Great Expectations Communications Chair, September 1, 2014
Excitement and anticipation ran high as members of the Great Expectations Steering Committee met recently with architect Marsha Cuddeback and landscape architect Jon Emerson to view at long-last the proposed design for phase one of our Great Expectations projects. The beautifully executed design for the exterior master plan includes: (1) Parking with well-drained, environmentally friendly spaces for cars; (2) Exterior landscaping and spaces for outdoor gatherings; (3) Passage ways that insure safe movement of people and automobiles through our church property; and (4) Designated space for future building expansion. Committee member were invited to make comments and give feedback for the architects' further refinements of the design.
Next steps include the GES Committee's presentation of the finalized design to the Board at the August 14 Board meeting, following which Marsha Cuddeback will make a presentation of the proposed design to the congregation at 12:45pm on August 17. Extended opportunities for viewing the design will take place following the first service on August 24 and both services on August 31, with members of the GES Committee available to answer questions. Members will vote for acceptance of the design for the exterior master plan at the Congregational Meeting following the second service on September 7. Our hopes and dreams for a new parking lot and exterior beautification of our church campus is a closer and closer reality.
Insuring that reality and the ongoing vitality and growth of our church depend on timely payments of GE pledges and pledges to the annual operating budget. Be sure to indicate “GE Pledge" or "Operating Budget" on checks or online payments. Our care and support is what makes our church a welcoming place for members, visitors, and those who have yet to find us.. Becky Cureau, Great Expectations Communications Chair, August 1, 2014
Momentum toward launching the first project of our Capital Campaign goals is steadily picking up, as evidenced by activities in the past weeks, and in projected activities for the coming weeks and months. During May the Great Expectations Steering Committee held frequent meetings with architect Marsha Cuddeback to go step by step through various design elements of the master plan for phase one: the parking lot, Memorial Garden, and exterior landscaping. Members had the opportunity to raise questions and provide input after both services on Sundays in May, which were taken into consideration as Marsha spent the month of June in preliminary architectural design work which the Steering Committee will review in meetings in July. A Master Plan will be developed during July, with more opportunities for members' questions and input during August, and a congregational meeting on September 7 to accept the Master Plan and authorize creation of construction documents and initiation of the bid process.
A congregational meeting will later be called to approve acceptance of the bid and authorize construction. Phase one of our Great Expectations will then be underway. Will we be able to contain our joy?
As you contemplate that coming joy, remember that the success of realizing this and all our Great Expectations goals depends on regular payments of Capital Growth Campaign pledges, and that the ability to meet our financial obligations depends on regular payments of pledges to the Annual Operating Budget. Indicating "Operating budget" or "GE pledge" on checks or online payments will insure that you are properly credited for your ongoing support of our church. Thanks for your generosity and commitment to the present good health and continuing growth of our church. Becky Cureau, Communications Chairperson, Great Expectations, July 1, 2014
The Great Expectations Steering Committee meets regularly to develop plans related to the implementation of Phase One of the Great Expectations Capital Campaign goals: the parking lot and landscaping of all areas of the campus and enhancements to the Peace Meadows. The evaluation of all the trees on our church grounds by a professional arborist was part of Phase One, and the six trees deemed to be unsafe will shortly be removed and replaced. A contract is expected to be signed in the coming weeks with Marsha Cuddeback, who will serve as our architect. Plans that she will develop for Phase One are projected to be ready for congregational approval by late summer or early fall. The GE Steering Committee includes Neal Stoltzfus, chair, Becky Cureau, Diana Dorroh, Vicky Smith, Sally Wood, Kay Zimmerman, and Steve Crump.
The goal of the Great Expectation Campaign related to administrative needs of our growing membership is addressed in regular meetings of the Staff Planning Team, which is also discussing office spaces needed to accommodate additional staff. The Team includes Diana Dorroh, Capi Landreneau, Neal Stoltzfus, and Steve Crump.
Fulfilling all the goals of the Great Expectation Campaign requires regular and consistent payment of pledges made to the Campaign, just as meeting the day-to-day operation of our church depends on faithful payment of pledges to the Annual Operating Budget. It is due to the generosity and commitment of our members to the ongoing work of our church that sustains and advances our role as a much-needed progressive religious force in our city and region.b Remember to indicate “GE pledge" or "Operating budget" on checks or online payments.
Becky Cureau, Communications Chairperson, May 1, 2014
The Great Expectations Capital Growth Campaign is now in phase one of implementation. A team from the GE Steering Committee has interviewed three landscape architects who have agreed to prepare proposals, which will be reviewed during the first week of April. Marsha Cuddeback, our long-time architect, is working with the team. The scope of the project for which proposals are being prepared include the parking lot, the Peace Meadow, and other spaces around the church. The projection is that a plan will be ready for the congregation to approve by late summer or early fall.
A Staff Planning Team is also meeting to discuss the projected additions to the staff, included in the goals of the Great Expectations Campaign, which will meet the needs of our growing membership and our position as one of the leading Unitarian Universalist churches in the SW District.
These are exciting times in our church as the goals of the Capital Growth Campaign begin to become reality with the success of going "Over the Top" - with pledges. The Campaign however will be ongoing until all pledges are paid in full, which is critical for completion of all our goals. Be sure to indicate "GE pledge" or "Operating budget" in online payments or on checks. Timely payment of both pledges is important for the present and future of our church. Becky Cureau, Communications Chairperson, April 1, 2014
Even before going “Over the Top” last month in the Great Expectations Capital Fund goal, we achieved two of the Campaign’s undergirding Strategic Growth goals: hiring our Assistant Minister, and paying off our mortgage. The GE Steering Committee is now concentrating on implementation of plans for beautification of our outdoor spaces, including a new parking lot, landscaping the meadow and other areas of our campus, upgrading the Peace Stones, and outdoor lighting. Marsha Cuddeback, our long-time architect, is assisting in identifying a landscape architect to design this phase of the projects. We have been helped tremendously by Marcia’s involvement in our planning over the past months, and we extend our deep gratitude and good wishes as she pursues professional involvements that now require her full attention. We look forward to her future consul and guidance as we undertake other aspects of the Great Expectations projects. And now, having made history in our church by achieving the goal of $1,580,000 in pledges, it is critical to the success of completing all our projects that pledges are paid in a timely manner and within the committed time-frames, or earlier if possible. Remember the joy of seeing the “meter” filled to the top in last month’s newsletter? Look for the meter to return in coming months as we “fill it” with pledges paid - our next critical goal. Please remember to note on checks or online payments as Great Expectations Pledge or Operating Fund. Becky Cureau, Great Expectations Communications Chairperson, March 1, 2014