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The winter cold is creeping in, but we will be nice and toasty at Saint John’s. After years of planning and collecting money, the heating system replacement project is finally complete, and the new equipment is humming away in the boiler room. We have some fine-tuning yet to do, and our Trustees are working on replacing thermostats and otherwise updating the controls and valves of the system, but the main part of the project—the expensive part!—is done.

Council member and head Trustee Eric Gardner has been working for at least a year and a half to collect bids, guide Council through the decision process and work with Tra Mar mechanical, the local company selected to replace the boilers, through the replacement process. Tra Mar removed the old system and replaced it with two high-efficiency boilers, five new pumps and a room full of new copper pipes and fittings. Preschool Director Kandy Wise’s office was the staging point, so she had to be moved out for the summer while the work proceeded.

Here’s what the boiler room looked like before the project began. The huge boiler was a surplus unit from Colorado State University when it was installed here at Saint John’s almost sixty years ago. It was massive, inefficient and more boiler than the church really needed. But Saint John’s certainly got a good deal on it!

This photo was taken just after the boiler was removed, having been sliced up like a loaf of bread to get it safely out of the boiler room. Eric Gardner and Don Gibbons got into the space to clean it up, paint the floors and walls and make it look at least a little less creepy.

Tra Mar worked through the summer, and this is the final product. The two boilers work with each other to keep a loop of water heated to a certain temperature. That temperature is based on the weather outside: the colder it is, the hotter the water going out to the heating system. So we’re neither needing to keep a big tank of water hot nor getting the water to a temperature higher than what’s needed, saving us gas costs and mechanical wear. You can also see in the background an instant hot water heater, which is what now provides hot tap water and replaces the electricity-devouring booster heater that used to power the dishwasher. Another source of potential savings!

Once Tra Mar was finished with the bulk of their part of the project, we took advantage of Kandy’s office being empty, our carpet installers being here for a warranty fix and some available Thrivent Choice Dollars to get the carpet in her office replaced. Kandy and her son, Seth, repainted the room, and she found some great deals on new furnishings to reorganize. We moved her back in to what now feels like a new office.

Now that the system has been replaced, Eric Gardner, with the help of Rudy Nicholas and the rest of the Trustees, are replacing old thermostats with wifi-programmable units, cleaning out the heating fins of the hot water registers throughout the church and otherwise tweaking the system to make sure we’re saving as much money as possible on utility bills while still keeping everyone nice and warm.

The heating system replacement was funded primarily from the “Choice Dollars” our members designated to the church from Thrivent Financial. We also received a number of donations from members specifically for the project. Many thanks to all who donated and who continue to designate their Thrivent fraternal dollars to Saint John’s, the Foundation or Open Arms Preschool.

This project has been one we’ve fretted about for many years. It’s such a relief to finally have it done, and we thank everyone who through the years have explored ways to get it accomplished. Special thanks to Eric Gardner, who has spent countless hours shepherding the project through to completion and brought so much wisdom and know-how to the process.

The thirteen members of the Church Council are the “Board of Directors” of the congregation, tasked with general oversight of the life and activities of the congregation to the end that everything be done in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws.