Jehovah’s raise new home
Jonathan Schwab – Mail Staff Writer
Detail work and a certificate of occupancy are all that remain after about 570 volunteers constructed the one-story, 3,800-square foot Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Poncha Springs Thursday through Sunday.
An open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the new building south of U.S. 50 off La Plata Avenue. The building will be a Bible education center and will house weekly Sunday meetings.
The construction process, called a quick build, used materials from Hylton Lumber in Salida.
Loyal Jessey, who supervised construction, said, “We do the quick build so we can get back to where we live – back to our normal routine.”
The congregation formerly used the building now occupied by Montessori Creative Art School in Salida.
Unlike many Kingdom Halls, the one in Poncha Springs was built with windows -two on the north side. Volunteer Phillip Fisher of Salida said Kingdom Halls usually don’t have windows to lower insurance cost and simplify construction.
The building is far enough from neighborhoods that congregation members don’t have to worry about people throwing rocks at windows, he said.
Fischer helped house volunteers in about 25 recreational vehicles in the RV park east of Salida. Other volunteers stayed in motels and with local Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The building has a main auditorium and stage, a foyer, two multi-purpose rooms for libraries or small gatherings, and a restroom.
Jessey, an Elder in the Salida congregation, has traveled to many quick builds around the state with Regional Building Committee 2 composed of Jehovah’s Witnesses from southern Colorado.
The committee is responsible for construction and maintenance of places of worship.
In addition to Salida and Poncha Springs, members of Regional Building Committee 2 came from Buena Vista, Nathrop, Monte Vista, Woodland Park, Gunnison, Cañon City, Center, Denver and Alamosa.
Volunteers also traveled from New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming and Virginia.
Jessey said construction of Kingdom Hall was quicker in the past, but more recently has taken an extra day or two because “there is much more attention to quality and safety. We have a safety meeting every morning and an inspection every afternoon.”
He said some past Kingdom Halls were built too quickly and portions didn’t last long.
Regional Building Committee members wanted a complete project that would require minimal future repair.
About 60 Jehovah’s Witnesses live in Salida and Poncha Springs, Jessey said.
Gourmet meals for construction crew members were provided by professional caterer Sherman Leache of Littleton and his staff – many of whom were working together for the first time.
Leache has been cooking for construction crews for 10 years, including some of the crews rebuilding in the New Orleans area.
Food included Chicken Cordon Blue, vegetarian entrees, enchiladas, and cake.
“We all gain about five pounds each time we do this,” Jessey said.
By Sunday, the building was ready for sound system wiring. Sound crew members, led by John Daily of Colorado Springs, arose at 5 a.m. to have most of their work done before construction workers returned to the job.
The first weekly meeting, pending issuance of an occupancy permit by Chaffee County officials, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday.