The Board of Trustees began the year 2015 with some major decisions.  It was decided to proceed with the design of a new heating plant; a dual boiler wood pellet system which will distribute heat to three buildings; the main church, the education building and the brick block apartment building.  The vendor selected for the new system is Sandri Energy of Greenfield, MA.  While the design proceeded, we applied for a 75% state grant through the Department of Energy Resources.

In April we received approval of the grant contingent on our having the 25% share on hand.  Our share was to be $45,300.  At a special Church Charge Conference held on April 19, 2015; the church membership VOTED approval of the following recommendations of the Trustees:

ITEM 1 – Proposed LOAN of $45,300 from the Conference Trustees to be used as a 25% match for the 75% grant of $130,974.75 awarded by Massachusetts DOER to fund a new “Renewable Thermal / District Energy” wood pellet fired heating system for HUMC.

ITEM 2 – Plans for two new ADA compliant bathrooms.  This project has been submitted to the Belchertown Community Preservation Committee for a grant. The Church share of this project will be in two forms; (1) available cash on hand and (2) volunteer participation of in-kind labor.

ITEM 3 – Authorization to open an Equity Line-of-Credit [LOC] account with the Country Bank for the primary purpose of maintaining cash flow payments on the heating system project.  The state grant mandates that HUMC make all payments to the contractor as submitted; then apply for reimbursements under the grant.  Progress payments will range from $10,125 to $66,467; therefore, the church needs a readily available source of cash.  This LOC may also be used to make progress payments as needed on the new handicap bathrooms project.  In addition, the LOC may be used as seed money on projects included in the upcoming capital campaign. As financial commitments come in, the Trustees can move on projects in anticipation of collections.

ITEM 4 – Discussion of other proposed Capital Projects and authorization to proceed with a related three year Financial Campaign to raise funds.

On May 11th, at the Annual Town Meeting; the ADA bathrooms project was approved for a Community Preservation Grant of $25,000.  This project proceeded immediately and was completed in August; just prior to the start of the Vacation Bible School Program. The two new bathrooms are unisex and one includes a shower. Both include baby changing stations and electric hand driers.  These new bathrooms make HUMC fully compliant with ADA guidelines and more capable of serving the Town as an emergency shelter.

The new heating system was completed and placed into operation on October 6th.  Final adjustments will be ongoing into the 2015 / 2016 heating season.  Our church has become a better steward of the planet by significantly reducing its CO2 output.

Other investments made to improve our church included replacement of all toilets in the education building.  All new windows were installed in the BCPS rooms on the second floor of the education building. Also half of the eight foot fluorescent lights throughout the church buildings have been replaced with LED fixtures for better safety and energy efficiency.  The remaining 50% of the lights will be done in 2016.  Security was improved by installing CCTV cameras in five locations with a DVR to monitor and record activities 24 / 7.