The completion of a long awaited renovation will be formally celebrated Friday, July 16, at the Hill Chapel with the Air Force Deputy Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) David H. Cyr, speaking at the chapel's rededication ceremony.
Partially funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Barack Obama's stimulus plan, the renovations will bring seating capacity to more than 480. Additional funding was provided through Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization funds from a Department of Defense program dealing with real property due to challenges to meet federal Anti-Terrorism Force Protection, or ATFP, standards.
"We are excited to move in," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kenneth Crooks, 75th Air Base Wing and Team Hill chaplain of the $1.4 million project. "We want it to be a central point of the community where the community can gather for sacred events."
The chaplain said he felt lucky to come into the project as it was already under way and noted the hard work of his predecessors. He arrived at the base just as the first wall was going up on one side, enclosing the interior.
Although construction started while Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Carl Wright and other chaplains were at Hill Air Force Base, the project's seeds were first planted when a previous 75th Air Base Wing commander, Col. Seb Romano, a practicing Roman Catholic, advocated for the project's inception in 2004.
Among obstacles encountered along the way once construction began was the need to meet the ATFP standards which were relatively new, said Harry Briesmaster, 75th Civil Engineer Group director. This required changing the footing and structural systems to meet both project requirements and the ATFP standards. This delay and another change order in order to allow the improvements to provide a more complete and useable chapel meant the project, first planned to be complete in March 2010, was not finished until July 2010.
Briesmaster said, "The then-chaplain advocated for good weather and it is thought that this significantly contributed to the mild winter conditions experienced in this area especially for much of January 2010 when usually during this time the Wasatch Front just gets pounded by snowstorm after snowstorm." With mild weather and the efforts of all involved, the changes were able to go forward.
The renovation features of note include a baptismal font, a bride's room, red oak wood panels and trim work enclosing the sanctuary, red oak pews, new lighting systems and energy saving features. Additional storage space was also provided in the 1,500 square foot renovation.
"We've had two requests already for reunion memorial services for two World War II units that hold annual reunions," Chaplain Crooks said. He said the solemn and venerable memorial events fit well with the purpose of the completed space, as one aspect of a multitude of typical reunion events.
Crooks has noticed plenty of excitement in the chapel's worshipping communities to see the project through to its completion.
"What I have appreciated from the parishes -- the worshipping communities -- has been their patience," he said.
While change brings its own challenges, the excitement of the worshippers has not been lost on Crooks.
"We've been doing clean up and there's an elderly couple who come regularly to the chapel every Sunday. In fact, they were here (just last week) helping clean and get ready because this has been their home church since 1967," he said.
He said such excitement and dedication to being a part of things wasn't unique to just this couple, "They're not the only ones with that attitude, I've sensed that attitude among many people here. They are excited that it's their facility getting upgraded and renovated and they're happy about it."
While the couple was helping with the cleanup he said they took an opportunity to take a look at things.
"They took a peek inside and they were thrilled at what they saw, very happy and excited," Crooks said as he described the couple's reaction. "They're looking forward to getting back into 'their church.'"
The rededication ceremony, to begin at 3 p.m., Friday, will be followed by a reception in the Chapel Annex, 4aa-aa4:30 p.m. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.
GSBS Architects, P.C., of Salt Lake City, were contracted to design the project, while Revealey Associates, P.C., Consulting Engineers, were instrumental in helping with the adaptation needed for the ATFP changes along with 75th CES and Creative Times Inc., of Ogden, the construction firm.
One thing that is clear to the chaplain, as he has watched the project move through to completion is the contributions of all concerned, and he wants everyone to know that this is not just the 75th Air Base Wing chapel. "It's the Team Hill chapel," he said. "It's for active duty, it's for our Reserves, it's for all the various wings that meet ... it's for the benefit of the community as a whole."