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Church more accessible to handicapped

November 23, 1996

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

CEARFOSS - Today is a big day for the congregation of Salem Reformed Church and thanks to some new construction, everyone will be able to attend.

A service of dedication begins at 9:30 a.m.

"We felt morally obligated to do this work,'' said Jim Bryan, chairman of the building committee at the small but active country church located on Salem Church Road.

Bryan explained that for years, people passing by Salem Re-formed Church would see the ramp and conclude that the church was fully handicapped accessible.

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But Bryan said that wasn't the case.

"We had the ramp, but not the bathrooms, etcetera,'' Bryan said.

Technically, the Americans With Disabilities Act exempts many church buildings. But if the building is open to the public for meetings by other groups, it must comply, Bryan said.

Now the church has handicapped-accessible restrooms for men and women, a handicapped-accessible water fountain, a sacristy (church kitchen for sacramental use), and an elevator.

Another consideration was keeping the improvements in tune with the church's history, which will number 250 years in 1997.

The addition was built of limestone to match existing buildings.

"We still have hearing and visual barriers,'' Bryan said. "But we have eliminated all other physical barriers.''

While all this construction was going on, other needed projects were completed, too, Bryan said.

"All underground tanks were removed, conforming to Environmental Protection Agency requirements,'' Bryan said.

New boilers were also put in, thus improving the heating and cooling equipment in the church sanctuary, church school and Hoffman Fellowship Room.

The entire project was relatively small but complex, Bryan said. It was financed through gifts and loans.

"The congregation has really rallied behind the project,'' Bryan said.

The project is dedicated in loving memory to Mrs. Edna A. Kuhn, according to the Rev. Clark Hayes, pastor of the historic church.

The general contractor was Henry Eby and Sons. The mechanical contractor was Beaver Mechanical, Inc.

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