Archived Kitchen Project News

May 24, 2023

The Kitchen Care Team has been busy! We’ve trained dozens of church members how to operate the new equipment and how to keep the kitchen clean, lean and green! The Kitchen Care Manual with step-by-step instructions can be found in the drawer labeled “manuals” underneath the microwave. Fern Stewart and Elaine Imlau from the kitchen care team brilliantly organized and labeled all the drawers and cupboards. They even labeled one drawer “Oh, Shoot, I forgot it at church!”

We expect the kitchen will be in demand for all kinds of events. Please reserve early! The kitchen is reserved separately from Griffin Hall. If you want to use the kitchen, you need to make a specific request for it. You can reserve the kitchen just like any other room by contacting Hannah Notch at

We hope you enjoy your new church kitchen, thanks to all the generous donors and tireless volunteers.


The Kitchen Care Team

May 11, 2023

Wow, What a Celebration!

If you missed the Kitchen Dedication Service last Sunday, do try and catch the recording. So much gratitude and love abounded all morning as we acknowledged all the many donors and volunteers that made the day possible. The new kitchen is simply stunning; even without the backsplash glass yet in place. (And, no we don’t have a date yet for that to happen; keep checking back.) Kudos to Karen Kraemer and her Aesthetics team for the outstanding mid-century design choices. We also learned that we passed the city inspection last week, another big step to check off the project list!

Two Creatives Who Added So Much to the Celebration

Fern Stewart designed and assembled our beautiful Donor Recognition Banner that now hangs above the main kitchen opening.

Our former kitchen held a long unused drop-down wooden door to close the counter opening. Walter Pearson transformed the mahogany door into commemorative medallions as a memento of the project for our donors. If you did not pick up your medallion, find the table that Marilyn Lantz will be tending on Sunday.

Kudos to the Breakfast Team

Sue Huber and numerous volunteers set up serving tables and 19 new round tables, kept us supplied with food and coffee, and helped clean up. Nearly 150 folks were served. And Kay Scott led the Kitchen Care Team in running all those dishes and silverware through the new dish machine.


Many people commented on how beautiful Griffin Hall was with tablecloths on the tables, as well as flowers, and balloons. Susan Gross would have been happy that her memorial flowers and balloons contributed to our

festivities. The new tables were appreciated for their stability (no wobbling) and the smaller size that allowed people to easily converse.


Much gratitude to Rev. Victoria Safford for her thoughtful Dedication message and the UU Singers and accompanying musicians for the inspiring anthem “Big House” by Kyle Pedersen. Our hearts are full to overflowing.

April 26, 2023

Our Contractors Are Moving Fast!

After all the adjustments to satisfy ADA code, our contractors wasted no time getting to the final installations of our kitchen renovation. They make it look so easy but behind the scenes, there was much design work involved and many times measuring and remeasuring to make sure everything fits. Below are the installers placing our beautiful new countertops; what a transformation this is!

Once the counters were in, next came our two new induction stove top units; don’t they just emanate sleek mid-century design? Water and electricity will be up and running yet this week.

Our New Griffin Hall Tables Have Arrived

Our new dining tables have arrived just in time for Food Fair and our May 7th celebration. Everyone will appreciate the smaller size which makes for easier conversations. Plus, the folding design will greatly facilitate set-up and storage.


Final call for anyone wanting to purchase our old tables. They are white plastic topped round folding tables, 60″ in diameter and weigh 50#. We are asking for a free will offering, with a minimum of $10 each, and the buyer will need to transport them. If interested, contact Marilyn Lantz.

Come Celebrate on May 7th!

Everyone is invited to attend the dedication of our renovated kitchen during the 9:30 am service on Sunday, May 7. Attend in-person or watch on Zoom (find the link information in the May 5 Intercom).

Brunch and more festivities will follow for everyone at 10:30 am in Griffin Hall. There will be food for omnivores, vegans and vegetarians.

If you have questions or would like to help, please let Ann Mowery know.

April 4, 2023

Save the Date: Come Celebrate on May 7th!

Our Sunday, May 7th, service will be a Commemoration of the renovated church kitchen with a Dedication ceremony by Reverend Victoria. We will acknowledge the project team members that are managing this project into fruition plus all the wonderful donors that made it possible. After the 9:30 am service, a catered brunch will be served in Griffin Hall. All First Unitarian Church members and friends are invited to attend and share in our celebration of the modernization of our 64-year-old kitchen.

Our GMA Dish Machine!

Our new dish machine has been moved out of Griffin Hall to its final resting place in the kitchen where it awaits the hookup of water and electricity that will enable it to function. And function it will! This GMA Ventless Model will clean the toughest stains and sterilize the cups, pots and pans, etc. to boot. The dish machine has a number of practical and environmental advantages, because it condenses the steam and recycles the hot water, saving water, energy, the amount of chemicals needed, and not requiring a vent out the roof.

It will be so effective (and quick!) at heating pots and pans that people will be tempted to run it for tea water or heat up their leftover casserole. But this would be dangerous and should be discouraged should anyone bring up similar ideas. One tragic story from recent times is that of a Texas man who tried re-heating a large pot of chili in this model of dishwasher when the oven was on the fritz. He apparently ended up with his hand fused to the pot lid. After healing, he occasionally plays percussion with the Ft. Worth Philharmonic when they play Paganini’s First Violin Concerto or other pieces calling for extra cymbals.

This new and wonderful addition to our new kitchen will allow for much more efficient, hygienic, and timely cleaning of our dishes. Here are a few additional advantages of this high temp machine based on its faster wash cycles; usually 90 seconds per load. The hotter water also helps dishes dry faster, making them readily available for reuse or reshelving.

o The exception to this would be using glasses right out of the washer to serve cold drinks, which would warm up too quickly,

o Faster drying phase,

o Less down time between cycles,

o Higher volume of cleaning,

o More effective cleaning.

We’ll surely appreciate the improved performance of this equipment over our previous dishwasher. Just remember not to try re-heating your leftovers!

April 4, 2023

Not All is Good News This Week, But Here’s the Skinny

Folks might have noticed that the wall ovens were recently removed in our kitchen. No one gets through a reno project without at least one glitch; most of us have been there. Turns out new ADA rules say we need more space around the center island. Not much we can do about that (unless we want to fight City Hall); so some adjustments are in the works. Overall, this won’t change much, but it does require we tweak the island. Not sure yet how this will affect our planned finish date; watch the Intercom and the KP webpage for updates!

New Dishes FINALLY Unpacked

Kay Scott and Elaine Imlau helped with unpacking our new dishes, long stowed in Griffin Hall. Fern Stewart is pictured appraising the new mixing bowls and Terry Meek assured all that cardboard went to recycling. The new dishes and flatware will be on full display at our May 7 dedication brunch!


Griffin Hall Tables for Sale (almost gone)!

Last call on the old Griffin Hall tables! They are white plastic topped round folding tables, 60″ in diameter and weigh 50#. We are asking for a free will offering, with a minimum of $10 each, and the buyer will need to transport them. If interested, contact Marilyn Lantz.


March 31, 2023

… Char & Bernie, Our Induction Cook Tops!

Wow, we are so excited! My little brother, Bern,ie and I (Char) have arrived at First Unitarian, and are eager to get out of our packing crates and set up in our new home, which is your new kitchen! I’m a sparkling new Wolf four-burner induction cooktop. And Bernie is a two-burner version, so not as big as me. We journeyed here from the Sub-Zero Group’s manufacturing plant in Wisconsin.

Not to brag, but we are the most efficient heat delivery system available in kitchens today! Induction generates a magnetic field that induces heat directly into the cookware with precise temperature control. The heat we produce is different than what you are probably used to – we don’t generate nearly as much external heat as conventional stove tops. So you aren’t likely to “sweat over a hot stove” when using us. (And, anyway, that doesn’t sound like much fun.) And while most cookware can be used on our surface, not all work with induction heat. A test, we learned, involves something called a magnet. If you put a magnet on the pan’s surface and it sticks, that pan will fry your fish or sauté your sauce on an induction unit! But if not, you’ll have to find a different pan.


I’m just 30 inches by 21 inches, so I will pack a lot of power with four units without taking up much space; Bernie is smaller with only two units. Here’s a drawing from the project contractor showing our placement in the west wall counter near the ovens.

We understand we’re going to be moving out of our Griffin Hall shipping crates and into our new home, hopefully in the next few weeks. We can’t wait to shed these boxes and get to ‘cookin’! See you soon, Char (& Bernie)!

March 23, 2023

More Pieces of Kitchen Project Finished!

New Under Cabinet Lights

Our kitchen crew will love these under-cabinet work lights over the counter tops! Plus, what cool ambient lighting they will provide when events are happening in Griffin Hall. Our design team has done a terrific job, stop by and check this out.



Kitchen Shelving Assembled

Our thanks to Ron Heideman for assembling the new shelving in the kitchen storage nook.




Fire Suppression System Passes Testing

There are many steps to insuring all the equipment in our new kitchen is ready for use. This week the City Inspector and our vendor for the stove top hood fire suppression system pronounced it “ready to go!”



Griffin Hall Tables for Sale (going fast)!

New dining tables are on order for Griffin Hall, so it is time to re-home our current tables. They are white plastic topped round folding tables, 60″ in diameter and weigh 50#. These would be perfect for craft projects, puzzles or picnics. We are asking for a free will offering, with a minimum of $10 each, and the buyer will need to transport them. If interested, contact Marilyn Lantz (she reports six have already sold). Please note: these are being offered for personal use by church members so, no reselling. Tables not purchased will be donated to community non-profit organizations.

March 15, 2023

Kitchen Work Progressing Fast!

First Appliances Installed

Our new double ovens and refrigerator are now in place. As we predicted, work in the kitchen will be moving at a pretty fast pace, so do plan to stop by and check things out.

Griffin Hall Tables for Sale!

New dining tables are on order for Griffin Hall, so it is time to re-home our current tables. They are white plastic topped round folding tables, 60″ in diameter, and weigh 50#. These would be perfect for craft projects, puzzles or picnics. We are asking for a free-will offering, with a minimum of $10 each, and the buyer will need to transport them. If interested, contact Marilyn Lantz. Please note: these are being offered for personal use by church members so please, no reselling. Tables not purchased will be donated to community non-profit organizations.

March 8, 2023

Decorative Tiles Installed in Kitchen!

Mid-Century Modern, noun : a style of design (as in architecture and furniture) of roughly the 1930s through the mid-1960s characterized especially by clean lines, organic and streamlined forms, and lack of embellishment

Karen Kraemer has led the Kitchen Project’s interior design team this past year; we asked her about their decision to go with MCM in selecting the appearance of our new kitchen. Here is her explanation:

The architecture of our present church building is Mid-Century Modern (MCM). The aesthetics committee’s top priority in designing the new kitchen was to stay true to the architectural style of the church. Clean-lined, flat-panel cabinet and drawer fronts with a warm wood appearance, a uniformly white-speckled quartz countertop, and a light aqua-green glass backsplash all combine to give a clean design look consistent with MCM design. The floor tile was chosen for the eye to transition easily from the beautiful colors in the slate hallway floor to similar floor colors in the kitchen. To add a “fun” component to the MCM design of the ’40s-’60s, a 4″ blue wall tile with a 3D raised elliptical shape was chosen as a surprise element under what will be the island counter overhang. That is what you see in the photo below of the newly tiled wall on the island.

Geometric shapes are often characteristic of MCM tiles and are sometimes in bold colors such as teal or mustard. However, the committee chose to keep the color a bit understated here to meet its second goal of a timeless design!

It’s been an exciting week as we begin to see what the kitchen will finally look like! The committee hopes you agree!

Our Grand Opening is scheduled for Sunday, May 7

Planning is underway to serve the first meal from our renovated kitchen on Sunday, May 7th, after the 9:30 am service. Reverend Victoria will dedicate our new space with a short program honoring our project donors and committee members, after which volunteers will serve a delicious brunch. All are invited and encouraged to share in the celebration of this milestone in our church’s building facilities. Watch for future announcements.

March 3, 2023

Signs of Progress in the Kitchen

We are at that stage of the Kitchen Renovation where most of the “behind the scenes” work has been completed and much of the current work is installing the major interior infrastructure that will support appliances and workspaces. Be sure and take a peek on Sunday!

Counter Top Frames Installed

Last week the fabricated aluminum frames for the new quartz countertops were installed in the dishwashing area. Open space beneath is for garbage and recycle containers. Thanks to Karen Kramer for capturing these photos.



New Flooring Being Laid

This week the crew began installing our new flooring! This is a reminder that samples of the various design elements of the project are on view in the Gathering area.

Our Grand Opening is May 7

Fingers crossed that we have survived the major supply chain issues and that our first meal to be served from the new kitchen on Sunday, May 7th, after the 9:30 am service. Reverend Victoria will dedicate our new space with a short program honoring the project donors after which volunteers will serve a delicious brunch. All are invited and encouraged to share in the celebration of this milestone in our church’s building facilities. Brunch will be free but RSVPs will be necessary; watch for future notices.

February 16, 2023

Kitchen Project (Almost) Finish Date Set!

Chuck Holcomb, our contractor on the kitchen renovation, has updated the project schedule. He anticipates that we will have our final inspection on Friday, April 14th. That’s the projected date when the contractor, church committee and architect meet and review the entire project and make a punch sheet of what remains for completion. By April 14th we hope to have everything done and in place, EXCEPT the Spandrel glass backsplash/wall covering. The delivery date for the glass tiles is still unknown; however, we anticipate the city inspection can be completed before May 7th, which means the kitchen will be usable while we wait for the installation of the glass.

Our Grand Opening is May 7!

The first meal to be served from the new kitchen will be a brunch on Sunday, May 7, when we will dedicate the new space with a short program and serve breakfast immediately after the 9:30 a.m. service. All are invited and encouraged to share in the celebration of this milestone in our church’s facilities. Brunch will be free but RSVPs will be necessary; watch for future notices.

Griffin Hall Tables on Order!

As part of this kitchen project, 20 new 48-inch round tables are being purchased for Griffin Hall that will replace the current white plastic top 60-inch tables. The new tables will have durable and attractive laminate tops. Fifteen of the tables will have legs with wheels that fold up and can be easily wheeled into the storage room. The additional five tables are designed with center supports to enable wheelchair access and will be on casters so they can be easily moved about as needed. We appreciate the furnishings Committee’s due diligence in researching best options which even entailed an out-of-town trip to inspect tables first hand. The appeal of these tables is their sturdiness, durability, and ease of storing. Sadly supply chain issues make their delivery date uncertain.

February 1, 2023

Hood, Lights, Cabinets, Oh My!

Our contractors are moving fast these days, so don’t blink, or you will miss seeing the progress. We now have lots of ceiling lights that brighten the kitchen, along with the white primer on all the walls. Look up, and you can also get a peek at the three new skylights.


The new fire suppression hood is up with its control cabinet located just south of the ovens (one of those pesky change orders the committee has had to deal with) and is awaiting our new induction stovetops. It may not look like much, but this is a huge step forward, given all the pieces that were required for its installation. There will be a wood cabinet just below the large control box than will hide the lower box and the electrical conduits.


Here (right) is a look into the storage “cubbie” area where a 6’ shelving unit will be added. All lighting fixtures are now LED (light-emitting diodes). Thanks for the input from our Sustainability Committee!

The Memorial Committee wasted no time in claiming their new storage closet in Griffin Hall! There is now plenty of room for their table covers, dishes, and silver serving pieces (images below).



Thanks to our tireless project Chair Ann Mowery for these photos.

Save the Date! A formal dedication and donor recognition program is planned for Sunday, May 7, immediately following the morning service. A delicious brunch will be available after a special dedication ceremony led by Rev. Victoria. You won’t want to miss the unveiling of the Donor Recognition installation.

Volunteer Needed. We are looking for someone(s) to compile all these Intercom updates and photos into an album for display at the May 7th celebration. Any creative cut-and-paste artistic types interested? Reach out to Mary Ellen Miller.

January 18, 2023

More Cabinets Installed; Cooktop Hood Has Arrived!

We are at the point in the kitchen renovation where “several balls are in the air” and visible work is happening very quickly. More cabinets and the new island are now in place.









And here is our first look at the new exhaust hood.

We were hoping for one smaller than our old hood, but the updated city code required this monster size. Sometimes you just can’t fight city hall, sigh.




Too late for last week’s update, but here are roof photos of the skylight installation.

Save the Date! A formal dedication and donor recognition program is planned for Sunday, May 7, immediately following the morning service. A delicious brunch will be available after a special dedication ceremony led by Rev. Victoria. You won’t want to miss the unveiling of the Donor Recognition installation. Our “Thanks” to Sue Huber, who has agreed to head up organizing this event; let her know if you can help.

Volunteer Needed. We are looking for someone(s) to compile all these Intercom updates and photos into an album for display at the May 7th celebration. Any creative cut-and-paste artistic types interested? Reach out to Mary Ellen Miller.

January 11, 2023

Up to now, most of the KP renovation work has been behind the scenes: electrical and plumbing installed in the walls and the downstairs ceilings, cabinets and countertops fabricated off site, and sewer lines installed, all while furnishings await in boxes in Griffin Hall.

This week we got a first glimpse of our future facility as the skylight installation work began and the first cabinets were moved into the kitchen!

Save the Date! A formal dedication and donor recognition program is planned for Sunday, May 7, immediately following the morning service. A delicious brunch will be available after a special dedication ceremony led by Rev. Victoria. You won’t want to miss the unveiling of the Donor Recognition installation. Our “Thanks” to Sue Huber who has agreed to head up organizing this event; let her know if you can help.

Looking Ahead: Once the new kitchen is operational, a new Kitchen Care Committee will be responsible for seeing that it is well maintained and for training all users on our new equipment as well as food safety guidelines and practices. This committee will move us into a new level of food safety discipline to ensure our congregants are well nourished with healthy repasts. We are seeking folks interested in being part of the work; full Committee description is here. If you are interested in helping or have questions, check with Ann Mowery.

January 3, 2023

Much construction headway was made on our kitchen remodel during the last weeks in December. Notch and Nail installed the new cabinetry in Griffin Hall which will provide storage for the Memorial Committee’s coffee service, dishes, tablecloths, etc. What a handsome addition! Our thanks to Karen Kramer and her Aesthetics Committee for their thoughtful detail work on this design.

Winter weather permitting (and we all know how iffy that is) the contractor plans to soon cut in the ceiling skylight windows. Much of the lower level electrical and plumbing upgrades have been completed (trust us; you really didn’t need a photo of a junction box).

Let’s get ready to celebrate! A formal opening/dedication/donor recognition is planned for Sunday, May 7, immediately after the morning service. A delicious breakfast will be available after a special dedication ceremony led by Rev. Victoria. We will be seeking helpers to make this event a success: Griffin Hall set-up, cooks, dishwashers, servers, table decorators, musicians, etc.

Update: The last of our new flatware has arrived! Look for the Kitchen Project table in the Gathering Area with a display of our new dishes and flatware. Got questions? Ask any of the Project Committee members during Sunday coffee.

Looking Ahead: Once the new kitchen is operational, a new Kitchen Committee will be responsible for seeing that it is well maintained and for training all users on our new equipment as well as food safety guidelines and practices. This committee will move us into a new level of food safety discipline to ensure our congregants are well nourished with healthy repasts. We are seeking folks interested in being part of the work; full Committee description is on the Kitchen Project webpage.

December 7, 2022

After the Dust Has Settled, Now What?

Much work was accomplished in the last month preparing for our new church kitchen. The old hood is gone, the wall opening to the hallway was made higher, and a new opening was cut for the pass-through to the dishwashing area. Yes, there was lots of noise and dust but the job went quickly.

Significant work is also being done on the lower level and in the walls to provide for the new plumbing(see above) and electrical lines. The exciting news is that our general contractor Holcomb Co. will begin work on the new skylights next week if the weather is cooperative.

Looking ahead, West Des Moines millwork shop Notch and Nail will install the new cabinetry in Griffin Hall, providing storage for the Memorial Committee’s coffee service, dishes, and tablecloths. This will replace a little used closet in the southwest corner of the Hall and provide the Committee easier access to their special events supplies.

Construction Oversight Chair Al Powers has been working with our architect Doug Wells on the necessary change orders, so we comply with the updated city code requirements. No word, yet, on the impact this will have on the project budget; watch this site for updates.

NEW: Look for the Kitchen Project table in the Gathering Area with a display of our new dishes and flatware, floor and countertop tiles, and the design color board. Got questions? Ask any of the Project Committee members during Sunday coffee.

November 17, 2022

Kitchen Project Committee Report to the Board for the November 17, 2022, Meeting

Holcomb Inc. started construction in the kitchen on Monday, October 31, 2022. That kicked off the contract, which allows 120 days for completion, which is mid-March. The old hood that was over the range was removed, and the new pass-through was created in the cement block on the“dirty” side of the kitchen. The wood from the hallway above the current pass-through was taken down, numbered, and stored for return to its original place once the current pass-through is enlarged. Plumbing and electrical work have begun.

We received our first change order from the contractor largely related to changes required for the City permit. The cost of the changes is being negotiated but will be at least an additional$30,000. The City is requiring us to install a fire suppression hood above the range tops. The appliances we had purchased do not all meet ADA requirements. We are in the process of trading those out for ADA-compliant models. Additional costs will be about $2,000.

The kitchen committees continue to meet to address issues of the project.

The Aesthetics Committee has purchased a table, chairs, and bar stools that will fit in with the thedécor they have selected. They are working on a donor recognition art piece with Fern Stewart. Walter Pearson has completed another donor recognition for each household of givers that will be distributed around the time the kitchen opens. We are pursuing outside vendors who could make the cabinet needed in Griffin Hall for the Memorial Committee’s dishes and valuables.

The Furnishings/Logistics Committee has purchased more dishes and silverware after receiving comments at its Forum. The Committee is pursuing serving dishes and utensils, tables for Griffin Hall, pots and pans, shelving, etc. The Committee has adopted a job description for a permanent kitchen committee that will oversee its use. We are looking for those interested in doing the work of keeping the kitchen organized and clean.

The Communications Committee continues to monitor the happenings of the kitchen remodel and present this information to the Congregation via several modalities.

The Kitchen Committee will plan for any cost overruns and address with the Board possible ways to pay for them. At this time, cost overruns are about $10,000. The Committee also started initial brainstorming for a formal opening event, probably in April. We will not wait to use the kitchen until then. The kitchen will have a “soft” opening once it is ready.

November 3, 2022

Work has finally begun in the kitchen with the removal of the old range hood

Our general contractor has also started the necessary prep work for future kitchen improvements including removing the hallway paneling for the new pass-thru to the dishwashing area. Masons will then remove concrete wall blocks to create the opening (anticipate lots of noise and dust).

We have learned there will be some needed amendments to our design plan to enable us to meet updated city code requirements. Our architect Doug Wells and Construction Oversight Chair Al Powers will be reviewing these with the full Kitchen Project Committee this coming week. Fingers crossed we can still be within our budget. Onward.

October 26, 2022

Well, it took much longer than expected, but our general contractor Holcomb Corporation can finally begin work on the kitchen renovation. They plan to start this coming Monday morning! First projects are to take out the old exhaust fan in the ceiling and remove the wood paneling on the hallway side of the kitchen wall. Then the masonry contractor will start breaking out concrete blocks to create the new pass-thru opening to the dishwashing area. Watch out for lots of noise and dust as the KP Committee does their happy dance!

We anticipate there will be some amendments to our design plan to enable us to meet updated city code requirements. Our architect Doug Wells will be reviewing those with the Construction Oversight Committee this coming week and Al Powers will then share those needed changes, and potential added costs, with the full KP Committee. Watch for more about this and an updated timeline in next week’s Intercom along with deconstruction photos. Onward!

October 13, 2022

Well, the news is that the city is reviewing our final design and expect to have that completed by next week and then they can issue our building permit. We anticipate some minor adjustments will be necessary to insure we meet current code requirements. Our architect Doug Wells will make those amendments to our design plans.

Next Step: our General Contractor, Holcomb Corporation, will begin work as fast as possible once the permit is issued. Holcomb has ordered some materials appropriate to this new time line and is ready to mobilize in a few days after the permit is issued. The General Construction contract has a time line of 4 months from the issuance of the permit for completion. So, watch for holes to appear in the kitchen ceiling soon!

October 5, 2022

Getting closer but still waiting ….

Our Construction Oversight Committee and others met this past Tuesday with our architect Doug Wells. We are waiting on one subcontractor before the architect can submit a final request to the city for a building permit. The subcontractor promises to deliver this week and then it’s up to the City to issue the construction permit. Our contractor, Chuck Holmes, is very anxious to get started and promises to start the day the permit is issued. You might hear the celebrating when that occurs!

The first work to be done will be taking out the range hood that is currently in the kitchen (this will result in a hole in the roof) and then creating two more holes for the planned three skylights. Additional vent work will require at least one more hole to be created. After this work is well along, a masonry subcontractor will come in to enlarge the current pass-through opening in the east kitchen wall and create a new pass-through opening for dirty dish return. Those activities come first and will be clear statements that the construction is underway. Keep checking the kitchen as the start date remains uncertain and watch the Intercom for future updates.

September 14, 2022

The sidewalk over the newly installed kitchen grease interceptor was replaced Tuesday. This means the west entrance doors will be open for Sunday service September 18th. Thanks to Al Powers for the photo above.

Our gratitude to all who turned out for last Sunday’s Forum. Kitchen Project committee chairs each presented updates as we near actual work to begin inside the kitchen. All the appliances except the wall ovens have arrived; the ovens were damaged in transit and had to be returned. We don’t expect much of a delay in receiving the replacements.

Al Powers has made available a complete set of the contractor’s specifications drawings for folks to look over. He mentioned that there will be a delay in starting the inside work as our General Contractor has Covid. Marilyn Lantz and Ron Heideman reviewed the process of decommissioning the old kitchen and recycling much of the items removed. Fern Stewart discussed the selection of the stainless steel flatware and Corelle dishes which were on display. Karen Kraemer showcased the design samples selected for the kitchen interior: countertops, back splash tiles, stool and chair coverings, etc. Ann Mowery reported that to date we have spent $140,000 out of the $436,000 raised for the project. Emily Petty consolidated many of the previous Intercom update photos into five panels for display.

The KP Committee will be setting up a table display in the Reception area so those who could not attend Sunday can check out our progress to date. Fingers crossed, we might be able to commission our new kitchen by year’s end. As always, reach out to any of the committee members with your questions and watch this space for future updates!

September 7, 2022

The Kitchen Project Committee Chairs will be on-hand during this Sunday’s Forum to present an update on the contruction schedule, and to answer ALL of your questions about the project!

Equipment continues to be delivered and decisions made about colors, styles, textures, lighting, etc. There will be updates from Construction Oversight, Aesthetics, Furnishings/Logistics, and Budget/Finances. Samples will also be available for your perusal.

Be there or be square!


August 31, 2022

First Unitarian Community: It’s Time for a KP Quiz!

Folks, The Kitchen Project Committee is making real progress, both strategically (i.e., making decisions) and materially (as in acquiring appliances). So let’s take a moment to review some information and see how well you’ve been paying attention to previous KP updates and how much you know or can deduce (or guess correctly) about items we’ve yet to report on here.

  1. Which is NOT a reason the kitchen committee decided on the type of dish-washer they did?

A) A high temp washer (180°) uses extremely hot water to sterilize dishes, whereas a low temp washer (130°) depends on harsh chemicals to do the job.

B) A high temp washer uses a booster to heat the water to 180° and is able to recycle water for the next load. A low temp washer, also known as a “fill and dump,’ requires each cycle to use fresh water because of the chemicals in each load e.g., chemicals plus detergent, plus rinsing soap.

C) The chemicals in low temp washer can damage some plastics, steel, silver, aluminum, pewter, and other alloys.

D) Environmental concerns – A high temp washer does require a bit more energy to get the water to 180°, but the low temp one uses a new dose of chemicals for every load.

E) Alchemic research indicates that high temp washers are more likely to convert trace elements into gold which can be sold, thus providing income for the annual budget and/or endowment fund.


2. Our new oven and cooktops were manufactured by which company?

A) Sub-Zero Group in Madison, Wisconsin

B) Amana Appliances in Amana, Iowa

C) B & L Industries, Largo, Florida

D) La Nordica, Montecchio Precalcino, Italy

E) Heisenberg/White Industries, Albuquerque, NM


3. The aesthetics committee is designing the kitchen with mid-century modern colors. Which color will you NOT likely see in the new kitchen?

A) Bright Orange

B) Aqua Blue

C) Scottish Plaid

D) Teal Green


August 25, 2022

Kitchen Project Closer to Actual Construction Work! 

The Kitchen Project Committees has been juggling many balls in the air this past month.  Here is a rundown of what’s been happening; but, for even more info be sure to attend the Forum at 11:00 am, Sunday, September 11th, following the morning service.  Samples will be on display, the anticipated schedule will be announced and all your questions answered, see you there!!!  


Kitchen Grease Interceptor Installed 

Waldinger Company made quick work of putting the separator box in place after the hole was dug.  If you missed seeing it in person, photos below show just how huge the box is, it needed a crane to lift it into place!  Now we wait for the concrete guys to restore the sidewalk.   It is exciting to see this piece of the project done.  NOTE:  The west doors will remain closed until the sidewalk work is completed.  The south entrance is an alternative handicapped entrance.  



Finally, Holcomb Contract Signed 

Our Board Chair Reba Eagles and Finance Director Alice Stewart put their “John Henrys” to the long awaited contract with Holcomb Construction.  We very much appreciate Al Powers hanging in there to nail down all the nitty-gritty details to meet our expectations of the work ahead.  In the meantime, Holcomb has submitted our plans to the city for our building permits.  Once they are approved, Holcomb will begin ordering materials.  Next up is working with Holcomb to outline a construction schedule; we do not expect this to happen until after Labor Day.  Stay tuned!  

The Project committee approved the proposed lighting fixtures: mid-century round design for the main area, a strip light for the storage area and two hanging lamps over the island; all with LED bulbs.   Just more steps in many to get us to the actual site work stage. 


Aesthetics/Logistics/Furnishings Updates  

(insert design board photo, understand it is not the best, but gives the idea) 

Aesthetics has settled on a Sherwin Williams mid-century color called Agua Verde for behind the spandrel glass wall tiles.  The team is currently shopping for stools for the island and the regular height table and chairs for the open area.  Limited space makes these selections a bit challenging but this crew has proved they are up to it!  Work on the donor recognition fiber art piece is underway, the committee is finalizing all the donor names to be included and seeking bids for the name plates which will be incorporated into the piece. 


Furnishings is close to a decision on the new flatware style, they are looking for best weight, durability and price.  Additionally, they are sourcing new tables for Griffin Hall.  One piece of good news:  Logistics reported that ALL the appliances are expected to be delivered around Labor Day!  Just a reminder:  these will be stowed in Griffin Hall until installation, thus use of Griffin Hall is limited to church events only.  


A Shout Out to the KP Team 

Many recent KP updates have commented on how much of these spring and summer months has seemed to be “hurry up and wait” but now we are able to report the fruition of much of the work done “behind the scenes” to prepare us for the start of actual construction of our new First Unitarian kitchen.  Here’s to those who have been diligent in their research, sourcing, measuring, pricing and selecting of all the parts that will make our new kitchen a place for generations to enjoy:  Dagny Fidler, Eric Hayes, Pat Headley, Ron Heideman, Karen Kraemer, Marilyn Lantz, Mary Ellen Miller, Ann Mowery, Al Powers and Janet Thurtell.   

July 27, 2022

Kitchen Grease Interceptor Installation Has Begun!!!

You probably noticed those utility locate flags outside the west church doors.  Well, Monday, Waldinger Company began the dig to install the grease interceptor for our new kitchen.   Hip, hip, hooray!



This is evidence that we are nearing the start of the inside remodel work!   NOTE:  The west doors will be closed for the next couple of Sundays.  The south entrance is an alternative handicapped entrance.


Aesthetics Committee Reveals Design Choices

Karen Kraemer and her Aesthetics team have put together a design board to show off their choices for the interior elements of the new kitchen.  You can see their selections in the photo:  the blue is the proposed glass backsplash, the white is the Glacial quartz countertops with uniform tiny flecks, the Monticello Maple laminate is for the frameless Mid-century modern custom cabinets with stainless steel hardware pulls, and the multicolored floor tile blends beautifully with the hallway slate tile for a pleasing transition.   You can check out these samples during our upcoming KP forum which is scheduled for 11:00 am, Sunday, September 11th, following our regular service.


General Project Updates

We continue to work with the architect to get the contract into its final form.   Yes, this is taking more time than anticipated but we want to get the details right (remember our previous mention that “patience is a virtue”).  The Construction Oversight Committee will conduct a final review of the contract before it goes to our Board President and Finance Director for signatures.  Our General Contractor Holcomb Construction has requested building permits; however, they will not start ordering materials until there is a signed contract.  Once that happens we will have a meeting with Holcomb to spell out a projected construction calendar.  As we wait, other pieces of the project are falling into place (see above re the grease interceptor install).


The Furnishings/Logistics Committees have merged and are about to sign the contract for countertops and installation.  And (trumpet blast) our new dishes have arrived!   The committee decided upon a Corelle white-on-white linen weave pattern; each place setting (120) includes two sizes of plates, one 18 oz bowl and a mug. The mugs are a good size and heavier than standard Corelleware so should hold up well over time.  The Committee is now working on selecting flatware, serving dishes, Griffin Hall tables and kitchen nook shelving.  Be sure and attend the September 11th forum to check out their choices!


100% of Kitchen Project Pledges Paid!!!

During the August 31st service Ann Mowery announced that ALL Kitchen Project pledges have been paid.  The total raised is $435,000!  This means we will most likely not need to dip into the $40,000 offered by the Endowment Committee to support the project.  What an amazing testament to the value this congregation saw in the proposal to renovate our 64-year-old kitchen!   Our gratitude is immense.


Gentle Reminder

Use of Griffin Hall is limited to church events until the kitchen renovation is completed.   Event planners should expect that there will be materials stockpiled in the hall.

July 27, 2022

Our New Kitchen Dishwasher Has Arrived!!!!

The passing of our old dishwasher was noted a few months ago in this space. It was well-loved, well-used and its time had come. This week we are delighted to announce the arrival of our BRAND NEW dishwasher! You can check it out in Griffin Hall as it is uncrated and fully visible. Here is a photo from the manufacturer.

It is a super-duper energy efficient and sleek CMA-180-VL High Temperature, 3-Door, Single Rack Dishwasher. Were it a car, it would be like a cross of the Batmobile and an Audi Q6. But this baby will get our pots and coffee cups clean before you can say “Holy baked on ziti, Batman!” The system can run on a 90-second cycle (60 second wash/rinse and 30 second steam evacuation) using only 0.89 gallons of water per rack. Based on this 90 second cycle, the dishwasher could clean 40 racks/hour!

The new “ventless heat recovery system condensation removal system” captures and distributes normally exhausted (via a ceiling hood) heat from the wash/rinse tank, using this FREE energy to pre-heat cold water prior to feeding the booster heater to bring the water to 180 degrees. How cool is this! Incidentally, the “180” in the unit’s name represents the temperature of the heat sanitizing process.

Here are more details for the mechanical nerds among us: The water vapor from the wash and rinse cycles is condensed to heat the incoming cold water and evacuate the steam from the wash chamber. The final rinse valve receives cold water (41-65F) that is processed through the “heat recovery system,” providing nearly cost free heating capabilities for water supplied to the booster heater, which reduces the recovery time for the booster. The 12kW electrical booster heater assures 180F sanitizing rinse every cycle. The wash tank uses a 6kW tank heater. Wash tank screens, which filter re-circulating wash water, prevent soil from entering the spray arms.

In addition to the savings in operational costs, we also save THOUSANDS of $$$ on installation as no venting through the roof is required. This unit is all durable stainless steel and comes with many safety features to insure ease of operation which makes it a perfect choice for our church kitchen. The cost was $19,000 which includes the stainless steel counter, sink and back splash. Our local vender is Bolton & Hay; thanks to Pat Headley and Janet Thurtell of the Furnishings team for all the homework to find us this state-of-the-art machine!

This long awaited kitchen improvement won’t be hooked up until we have the necessary electric and plumbing installed. But, the Kitchen Project Committee is so

excited that there’s talk of putting together an interpretive dance to depict this awesome technology at a future worship service. Stay tuned!

Entrance Via East/West Doors

We anticipate work to begin soon on the installation of the kitchen grease “trap” outside the west entrance and the new lift inside the east entrance. During this work, these exterior doors will be still be accessible but the lower auditorium doors will need to be moved a bit to accommodate the lift. Al Powers is working closely with the carpenter and anticipates the work will begin next week. We expect these interruptions to be brief but they may overlap a Sunday. Watch for future notices and do catch Al Powers’ Construction Spotlight during this Sunday’s service (along with a VERY special announcement from Ann Mowery).

July 21, 2022

General Contractor Bids Under Review

The good news is we received three General Contractor bids for our Kitchen project!  Architect Doug Wells and Construction Oversight Chair Al Powers are doing their due diligence to insure all specifications are covered in these proposals. The two lowest bids were very close and both agreed they could start work before Sept 1.  Holcombe, the lowest bidder, was recommended by Doug and accepted by the Construction Oversight and the Kitchen Committee. The Board accepted this decision on July 16 and will be looking for a contract to be drawn up for their review. Al will then take the contract to the Board for approval. Given that the Board has returned to meeting only monthly, we anticipate being on their August 18th agenda. Another step before actual work can begin is to receive the necessary building permits from the city. Therefore, we now anticipate actual work to being after Labor Day.


Grease Interceptor Prep

As we reported earlier, installation of the kitchen’s grease “trap” will mean the sidewalk area outside the west doors will need to be torn out.  This will include the plantings in this space so expect to see those removed in the near future.   We anticipate the concrete tank to be delivered the last week of July.  When this work begins, we will not be able to use the west doors; so watch for notices.

Watch This Space

Below are photos of our now deconstructed and empty kitchen.  We will post progress photos in future updates.


Donor Recognition Plans

The Aesthetics Committee has been working on design plans to recognize all Kitchen Project donors.  There are two pieces to this: an artful piece will be hung above the hallway side of the serving counter opening which will include all donor names and a special commemorative token is being designed to be given to each donor family.  This means all donors need to be certain they have returned the donation card designating exactly how they want their name to appear.   Don’t know if you have done that?  Reach out to Ann Mowery to confirm your name is on the list!

Griffin Hall Use Reminder

As we near the start of construction work in the kitchen be prepared to see part of Griffin Hall being used to stockpile materials.  The new dishwasher will be delivered next week!  This should not take up much space but will mean we have less room for events & programs.  For the time being, Griffin Hall will only be available for church functions.  No outside rentals will be allowed until it is deemed safe to do so.


July 6, 2022

Grease Interceptor Coming

Check out the white lines on the photo above. That’s where the concrete will be removed and the hole dug for the grease interceptor. This is a good spot to avoid the trees. The flowers will have to find new homes at least temporarily. Digging could start in July which will mean broken up concrete and dirt piles until the interceptor is installed and the concrete contactor does their work. The west entrance will be closed during this time. These are what we’ve been waiting for–active signs a new kitchen is on the horizon. Contact Ann Mowery if you have questions.




June 30, 2022

Waiting For Bids

Construction Oversight agreed to extend the bidding period by one week and expects to receive bids from three general contractors. The architect will make his recommendation from among the three to the Construction Oversight Committee. That committee will review the bids, consider the architect’s advice and select a contractor the week of July 4.

June 22, 2022

True Patience Means Waiting…

Like most home remodels, the First Unitarian Kitchen Project team has had to practice much patience during these last three weeks while we waited for decisions to be made and responses received from our professional collaborators.  But things have been happening behind the scenes.

Cabinets and Grease “Trap” on Order

The Aesthetics Team led by Karen Kraemer has chosen the cabinets and selected the number, sizes, and placement needed for our kitchen design.   The committee received four bids, three of which were well within our estimates. After careful review, the Aesthetics Team selected Notch & Nail, of West Des Moines, to custom build and install cabinets.

A contract has also been signed with Waldinger for the grease interceptor which will be placed on the west side of the building under the sidewalk near the west entrance. Digging will begin later in July. After the installation, sidewalk work will be required to restore the area.

GOOD NEWS:  both contracts came in under our initial cost estimates!

General Contractor Bids

Construction Oversight Chair Al Powers has been busy reviewing details for the construction bid package with our Architect Doug Wells. Bid specifications were sent to six general contractors. A pre-bid meeting with possible contractors was held last week and bids are due to the architect’s office on June 24. We expect to receive at least three bids. The architect will review the bids and make a recommendation to the Construction Committee who will make the final selection the week of June 27.

May 25, 2022

What’s new with the Kitchen Project?

Ann Mowery and the KP team have been busy working behind the scenes, researching equipment, studying cabinet options and rethinking the kitchen flooring.  Here is her update:

The appliances (induction stove tops, double oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher) are on order.  See below for details on the stove tops.

The asbestos and tile flooring was removed.  The Aesthetics Committee is reviewing potential floor surfaces after finding out the flaws of using polished concrete, our original plan.   Durability and environmental impact are our chief concerns.

Aesthetics is also securing bids on cabinetry by May 27. We want durable cabinets that can be delivered by August or September.

The architect and the Construction Committee are working together to complete plans and specifications.  We are in the beginning stages of contracting with Waldinger to build the grease trap (interceptor).  The scope of work is nearly complete to begin getting bids from a general contractor, who will do the construction as well as oversee electrical, plumbing and masonry.

Stop by and take a look at our bare bones kitchen and take note of the cracks in the concrete floor.   Have questions?  Look for this sign on Sunday mornings.


Introduction to Induction

Dear First Unitarian Church of Des Moines:

Wow, we’re excited!  My little brother and I just learned we’re going to be moving to your kitchen in Iowa (wherever that is)!   I’m a sparkling new Wolf four-burner induction cook top.  And my brother is a two-burner version, so not as big as me. We were born at the Sub-Zero Group’s manufacturing plant in Wisconsin.  We are the most efficient heat delivery system available, induction generates a magnetic field that induces heat directly in the cookware with precise temperature control.  We understand we’re replacing burners which were part of a big old ten-burner Wolf range.  I’m just 30 inches by 21 inches so I pack a lot of power without taking up much space.

Here are my specs:

30″ CONTEMPORARY INDUCTION COOKTOP CI304C/B FEATURES  Distributes heat more evenly with 40 percent faster temperature response than gas or electric Transfers heat more efficiently because the energy is supplied directly to the cookware Enjoy cooking with lightning-fast highs and subtle lows The Bridge function joins two induction zones into one large area, enabling use of an induction-capable griddle, open roaster, or fish poacher Install flush against counter for a clean contemporary design Promote safer and easier cooking with cookware sensing guards Cleanup is a snap with the black ceramic glass surface Enjoy the illuminated touch controls and convenient lock feature COOKTOP SPECIFICATIONS • Unframed edge for flush installation • Black glass ceramic surface • True simmer and melt settings • Boost mode for high heat • 1 – 1,400 W element • 1 – 2,100 W element • 1 – 2,100 W element with 3,700 W boost • 1 – 2,600 W element with 3,700 W boost

Stay tuned – I’ll write more as we get closer to our moving day!

A Gentle Reminder re Kitchen Project Pledges

To date we have received over 90 percent of the amount pledged toward our church kitchen renovation. The payment due date is June 30th and we have just a few outstanding.  If you need special accommodation to meet this deadline, please contact Ann Mowery. Donations can still be made if you missed the opportunity to participate during our fund drive last fall and winter. We are grateful for everyone who stepped up to support this project with such generosity!

May 18, 2022

Out With The Old Cupboards & Flooring; In With An Aesthetics Team!

Old Kitchen Cabinets Off To Their Final Resting Place 

The auction of kitchen stuff during the FFFFF added $590.00 to the renovation project fund!  Thanks to everyone who made purchases.   Sadly, no one bid on the old kitchen cupboards.  Following removal, they were brittle and unstable.  Once again our stalwart project volunteer Ron Heideman stepped up along with Sherwin Back (Dash) to move them outside for demolition.  They then loaded the debris and hauled it to the East Polk Landfill for final burial.  Regretfully, they were the only mourners at the gravesite.


Removal of Kitchen Flooring Happened This Week

Because of the asbestos in the flooring, a special removal team was contracted to tear out the old tiles.  They made quick work and were finished in one day.  Special ventilation had to be used to insure the safety of those in the church and also to prevent contaminated dust being left behind.   Project Chair Ann Mowery captured the air containment process (lots of plastic covering kitchen door and counter opening with a plastic tube exiting out a Griffin Hall window).  She also sent photos of the now bare floor showing multiple cracks.


Meet Our Team Creating the Kitchen’s New Look

Karen Kraemer, Aesthetics Chair

When Ann Mowry called me to ask if I’d chair the Aesthetics committee for the church kitchen project, I had recently retired from my part-time audiology job and was happy to be considered to serve in this capacity.  I’ve remodeled kitchens and bathrooms in both of my own houses and experienced the joy and satisfaction of making them both more functional and aesthetically pleasing.  I love taking a space and reinventing it.  Given the opportunity to work together with an enthusiastic, talented committee to create a “new-and-improved”, timeless mid-century modern kitchen at First Unitarian that will last for years to come is a challenge I’m excited to take on!

Cheryl Long

I was never that interested in aesthetics until Meredith Corporation, where I worked for 21 years, started to transform its building.  The original was very outdated.  The original building had 1940’s green tiles and old decrepit office furniture, dirty carpets and mismatched everything.  Over several years this beast of a building turned into a beauty-an innovative architectural showpiece that featured natural light for every employee, comfortable furniture, interesting artwork (like 6′ tall metal flowers), unusual paint treatments and new equipment.  Suddenly it was a delight to go to work and a pleasure to have guests from New York who were expecting a backward town and company.  Since then, I’ve realized the importance of our surroundings and the difference it makes in so many aspects of our lives.

Heidi Levine

I am excited to be working with the committee which gets to shape the look and feel of our new kitchen.  I love mid-century architecture and design and finding ways to reflect that aesthetic while creating space that is warm, timeless, and functional has been a fun challenge.  I have done two home kitchen remodels and was on the planning committee for a kitchen renovation at another UU church.  Since I moved before that project came to fruition, being on our kitchen aesthetics subcommittee is giving me a kind of closure experience!

Heidi Lackmann

I joined the kitchen aesthetics committee because I was inspired by the focused efforts of the initial committee, and I want to have a role in this reinvigoration of our church community.  My goals are to create a warm & timeless environment where church members and friends can come together and feel at home.  I appreciate Scandinavian simplicity and practicality, clean lines, natural wood and an overall sense of ‘hygge’ – coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of well-being.

Janelle Bailey

I have been a member of the church for the past 9 years and always enjoyed being part of a hospitality team.  In our home the kitchen is a central place to be together as a family. My focus for the church kitchen remodel was its functionality.  I want it to be a useful thoughtful space we can all enjoy for many years to come.  My husband and I have been involved in remodeling our kitchen and many other home remodeling projects.  I bring my knowledge and years of patience to this project to help us create a functional and welcoming space.

May 4, 2022

The First Unitarian Kitchen is most definitely now closed! 

Deconstruction of our kitchen took a major leap forward this week as a muscular team of volunteers removed ALL the cabinets and counters on Tuesday.   This was an amazing effort with a great crew completing the work in under three hours!   Here is the team; from left, Al Powers,  Ann Mowery, Tom Thurtell, Ron Heideman, Sherwin Back and Walter Pearson.   

Awaiting their move to Habitat Restore, the cabinets are temporarily stowed in Griffin Hall.   

There is an old adage, the lost is always found.  Might these keys belong to someone in the congregation?   If so, you can collect them from our new Director of Finance and Administration Alice Stewart. 

At the auction, held as part of last Saturday’s FFFFF, we received a successful bid for the ten-burner, two-oven Wolf range!  It will be removed this weekend; watch for next week’s KP update for more info about its new owner.  All auction proceeds will be added to the Kitchen Project Fund. 

Al Powers has also been busy disconnecting stuff in the kitchen.   He turned off the gas and water lines, removed the garbage disposal, fire extinguishers and Bunn coffee system for future use.  Asbestos removal will begin Monday, May 16 and should be fully completed with the all clear by Wednesday, May 18, after the required air testing. 

Behind the scene, there is a whole lotta work going on as the Furnishings and Aesthetics Committees are selecting new cabinets and kitchen equipment.  Watch for their reports in future updates!   

Here are more photos of the team removing the cabinets and counters. 

And here is the final product!

April 29, 2022

Emptying Our Kitchen is Filling Other Needs in the Community 

Deconstruction of our kitchen continues. If you take a peek inside, you will notice the dishwasher is gone (it has been sighted sitting in Al Powers driveway waiting recycling).  Among other recent steps has been the removal and donation of our old kitchen dishes and items used for preparing food to two of Des Moines’ largest homeless shelters.  

The schedule to begin contractor work in the kitchen has changed (we take them when they are available!).  Asbestos removal will begin May 16th followed by the floor refinishing.  That means the kitchen will be closed beginning May 1st as the water will be shut off that day    All cabinets, counters, and other items sold at the April 30th auction must be removed before May 16.  Ron Heideman is coordinating the removal of the cabinets on May 3rd with help from Tom Thurtell, Walter Pearson, and Sherwin Back. 

Pat Headley, our KP Furnishings Committee chair, reports that our many dishes, bowls, saucers, silverware and a few serving bowls went to Catholic Charities’ Warehouse in the city’s River Bend neighborhood. They are seeing dozens of Afghan refugees in their programs and need to help them get settled. Pat reports, “When we asked if they wanted this stuff they said ’yes’ in a hurry.”  Sam, who is the regular warehouse staff (donations are accepted 9:00 – 3:00 on Mondays) said that he appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into the selection and packing of items. 

Several commercial-sized pots and pans went to the Central Iowa Shelter and Services (CISS). This is the busiest free meal site in the area, preparing hundreds of meals daily. They were excited to add these items to their kitchen. Pat added that the furnishings committee feels good about finding such fitting places to donate our kitchen supplies.  

 All project committees have been hard at work reviewing final drawings and cost estimates from the architect.  Not surprising that inflation and supply chain issues have raised the total estimate.  After much discussion over each line item and several revisions, the estimated cost now matches the funds committed to the renovation.  Good work by all! 

Reminder:  the auction of cabinets, counters, refrigerators, stove and other items is this Saturday, April 30, during the PPP and FFFFF event at the church.  Ron Heideman will be on hand to answer questions and assist with the bidding.   

April 20, 2022




A lot of work has been happening behind the scenes this past month to prepare our church kitchen for its renovation. Because the first piece of the deconstruction involves removing the current flooring (due to the asbestos in it), this week’s Kitchen Project update is like a business closing ad: “Everything Must Go!” Or, as KP volunteer Ron Heideman puts it, “The End is Near” for clearing out the kitchen!


To facilitate that work, the KP Logistics Committee will hold a silent auction of the cabinets, counters, appliances and miscellany to any and all interested parties. The auction will coincide with the Saturday, April 30th, PPP and FFFFF events at the church that evening. Ron will be on hand during the auction to answer questions and assist bidders. Below is the listing of the available items; note that most items must not be removed before May 23, the closing date for all kitchen usage. To see photos of these items, go to our Kitchen Project web page (insert link).


Help make way for our kitchen remodel! Take a look at these items and choose your memorial keepsake from the old kitchen days! Unless otherwise noted, all items must be removed from the building between May 23-31. Silent Auction April 30th during the FFFFF. Questions or to make early bids, contact Ron Heideman.

Click through the gallery below to read the description and minimum bid for each image.


Other items not pictured:

  • South Wall Lower Cabinets with Counter Top 4 units-3 doors, two columns of 4 drawers, 24”deep. Buyer must transport. Available: from May 23-31 Min bid $5
  • Stainless Steel Utility Table The pots and pans table just inside the kitchen door. Buyer must transport. Available: from May 23-31 Min bid $20

April 13, 2022

Why does our renovated kitchen need a grease trap? 

The short answer is it is required by city code.  Here is the long answer:  First, KP Construction Committee Chair Al Powers corrected our terminology,  “It isn’t a grease trap, those are small smelly units installed in the kitchen.  Fortunately, we get to avoid the stench with a unit installed outside the building; these are called “interceptors” and look something like a septic tank.”   Thanks for that technical edit, Al!   Now, to the why do we need one.

The Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) implemented the Fat, Oil, and Grease (FOG) Ordinance in 2006 to help decrease the number of grease-related sewer blockages, backups, and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs).  FOG can block our kitchen drain, our neighbors’ drain and main collection lines, potentially becoming an environmental and public health risk.   The primary goal of the FOG Ordinance is to eliminate FOG-related sanitary sewer overflows.  All WRA communities collectively adopted the FOG Ordinance in 2006 and have since seen a significant reduction in SSOs, FOG-related sewer blockages, and FOG buildup in the public wastewater collection system.

The FOG Ordinance defines a Food Service Establishment (FSE) as “an operation or enterprise that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption.”   This includes, but is not limited to, restaurants, bars, schools, daycares, churches, nursing homes, bakeries, grocery stores, caterers, food/meat processors and other food preparation operations.  Every FSE is required to have a grease interceptor installed when any remodeling affects the kitchen drains.

What is FOG?

The short answer is it is the congealed gunk washed from kitchen drains.   Here is the long answer:  FOG refers to the fat, oil and grease that are generated from normal operations of FSEs.  FOG is commonly washed into the plumbing system during clean-up through the kitchen sink.  As it cools, it congeals and decreases pipe capacity both inside the building drain pipes and in the main sewer system.

Where will this grease interceptor  be located?

The unit needs to be outside the building and in a location where it can be routinely emptied.  The clean out involves pumps, hoses and a collection truck so best if it is near a street or parking area.  It also needs to be near the city sewer line.

The design is being finalized, but the most likely location is in the sidewalk directly west of the west entrance doors.  The corners of the proposed location are marked with paint stripes.

The size of the unit is determined by the maximum number of meals that will be served and how often meals will be served.  Based on serving a maximum of 125 meals on an occasional basis the minimum size is 2,150 gallons.  The smallest standard size that is readily available is 5,000 gallons, so that is what will be installed.

What the heck does this interceptor look like?

The interceptor is a concrete tank (kinda like a septic tank) about 9 ft wide, 16 ft long, and 6 ft deep.  It will be buried with the top of the tank about 4 ft below grade.  There will be six (6) manhole covers set in the sidewalk and the adjacent drive that will allow access to the interceptor for inspection, cleaning and maintenance.

The city code requires that the unit be inspected and cleaned every three months, unless it is shown that less frequent cleaning is adequate.  Because of the expected low usage of our kitchen and the fact that our unit will be larger than required by the code, we expect that cleaning will only be required about once every 2 or 3 years.  The city and the WRA will probably require us to have it inspected at 3 and 6 months.  We can then establish a cleaning schedule based on the results of the initial inspections.  So there you have the why? what? and how? of a grease trap, oops, “interceptor.”

April 5, 2022

It Takes a Wide Area Code to Raise a Church Kitchen

One of the many things that make UUs “uunique” is the fact that most congregations – whether in large metropolitan areas or smaller cities – have members living in dozens of zip codes.  Our congregation is no exception – not only does our membership directory include every Polk County community but many in surrounding counties and beyond.  We draw several members from adjacent counties, especially Dallas.  Story County is understandably an exception due to the presence of the Ames UU Fellowship.

Our Kitchen Renovation Project — like our entire congregational life — involves many people from well beyond the city limits of Des Moines.

First Unitarian volunteer Ron Heideman is a “communitarian” from outside Polk County, having lived in Indianola since 1977.

Ron is one of several First Unitarian members who live in Warren County, which includes Norwalk, Carlisle and Indianola.   Our two Heidi Ls (Lackmann and Levine) are also Warren residents and both are serving on the project Aesthetics Committee.  That group is planning the design and functionality of cabinets, counters, wall colors, flooring and the like (more on that in a future story).

Ron joined First Unitarian three years ago and was drawn to the Kitchen Project with a particular interest in making the new facility as environmentally friendly as possible and also recognizing that he has a variety of skills that would come in handy as the effort develops.  He readily agreed to join the Logistics Committee and has already contributed in many ways, including managing the removal of the wooden roller that used to close the kitchen counter opening.  Ron has also helped with the process of clearing the kitchen, lending a comforting and compassionate presence as the dishwasher passed away and engineering the temporary removal/relocation of other appliances, such as the refrigerator shown below.

Ron also serves on the church’s Green Sanctuary team and is very interested in recycling as much as possible of the “stuff” that needs to be removed from the old kitchen.  To that end he will be managing an auction of our dated but very utilitarian kitchen cabinets.  “I want to avoid sending the cabinets to the landfill.  We’ll give church members the opportunity to use them in their homes or we’ll donate them to Habitat Restore.”    (Watch for the auction date and details in next week’s update.)

From the near and not-so-near metro area, the mix of individuals and families who constitute the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines make our congregation a community; a community filled with talented and willing volunteers, enabling us to move things like the Kitchen Project from concept to reality. Thank you, Ron Heideman, for being on our KP team!

March 30, 2022

We reached out to Kitchen Project Co-Chair Ann Mowery to answer our pressing question about why there is a hole in the kitchen wall where the pull down door was?   

Turns out the architect just needed to determine how the supports were put into that wall since we will be removing part of it.  Al Powers knocked the hole in the wall and photographed what was inside.  So, no chance we will see any of the Cassidy Hole-in-the-Wall gang hiding in there. 

Al has also been working with the architect on the best site for the grease trap.  They are needing to find a spot that is accessible for easy clean-out and away from our beautiful oak trees.  He expects to write a separate contract for the grease trap and begin that work before the kitchen construction.   

Ann also reported that a complete set of drawings from the architect are expected on April 1st (no fooling) for our final review.  All the project committees will review these for any final changes before they will be used to solicit bids from contractors.  “We are hoping to present the final design with a plan on how to secure a contractor to the Board of Trustees on April 21,” Ann reported. 

“The schedule for closing the kitchen is totally dependent on when a contractor can start work. That will not be before May 23; however, it may be later depending on the contractor’s schedule.”   The Logistics  Committee will be responsible for emptying the kitchen at the appropriate time.  This will include taking down the cupboards, removing appliances, and finding storage or a new home for the contents.   

Well, they certainly didn’t waste any time removing appliances!  Eric Hayes along with stalwart volunteer Ron Heideman was caught hauling one of the refrigerators to the large activity room for Family Promise use.  Thanks to Marilyn Lantz for the photos of this move.   

Stay tuned for future news of the cabinets auction and the re-homing of various kitchen odds and ends. 

March 22, 2022

The Kitchen Project is moving beyond the kitchen.   But First Unitarian folks can rest easy; the planned “kitchen creep” is limited to a small area where currently no one spends time and which is underutilized for its original purpose. 

As a result of thoughtful consideration of space, function and aesthetics by our crackerjack volunteers, the Kitchen Project will include relocation of our Memorial Committee’s silver coffee/tea service, glass dishes and cups, and good china to a new secure storage unit in Griffin Hall.  

Memorial Committee Chair Susan Jellinger is excited about this move.  “I had mentioned moving the old  cabinets from the kitchen to this space, so this idea of actually building new cabinets sounds fantastic!” 

The new secure storage cabinets will be in the southwest corner of Griffin Hall that most of the time could be described as behind the piano (as that is where the piano seems to spend most of its time). The space is to the left of a cabinet where audio equipment is stored and was originally conceived of as coat storage, but evidence is scant that it has ever been used as such.  

Why is this a good idea?  Well, for one, it will free up space in the new kitchen design allowing for more versatility of storage space and more room for people to move about.  But as much as anything, time and experience have proven that the “good dishes and silver pieces” are mainly used at events that take place in Griffin Hall.  So logically, it makes sense to have the coffee/tea silver set and fine tableware where they are to be used.  Of course, once used, they’ll still need to be conveyed to the kitchen for cleaning but when dry can be returned to their new home in Griffin Hall.  So if you smell sawdust in that part of Griffin Hall, it won’t be because someone sawed the legs off the piano but instead will indicate the creation of new shelving and cabinetry representing improved form and function. 

By the way, look for more on the history of the silver coffee/tea set in subsequent Kitchen Project updates. 

March 18, 2022

Deconstructing a Kitchen: Part I

As the Kitchen Project has moved from concept to reality, those of you who’ve been in the building recently may well have noticed some changes. A few items have been removed. Last week the demise of the dishwasher was reported. To an extent, any renovation follows a logical progression of removal of “layers” of a sort. For example, before you can eat the fruit of a banana, the skin has to be peeled away. Or in construction projects, for instance, old cabinetry has to be removed from walls before being replaced.


Kitchen Project Committee member Ron Heideman determined last week that the wooden roller door and its supporting track framing the kitchen counter window should be among the first things to go. And go it did. Ron and Walter Pearson worked two hours on a Saturday morning to remove the door and associated parts.



Ron stated, “I specialize in demolition! It’s fun to take things apart and see how they work. Taking off the vertical wood revealed the counterweight channel. Each channel had a 75 pound lead weight fastened by a heavy cable to the top of the door. It took both of us to ease the weights out of the channels to the counter. Neither of us had a truck, so Walter cut the 150 pound door into 24” pieces to transport in his small SUV.”


The Kitchen Committee decided that everything removed from the kitchen would be reused or recycled as much as possible. The door will be cut into small pieces and fashioned into memorabilia. So at least part of the “old” kitchen will live on in another form or forms. The lead will be recycled at Scrap Processors of Iowa. You can see pictures here of parts removed during the rollerectomy (photos courtesy of Ron).

Look for more updates in the Intercom and on this website page as the process moves forward and other “layers” disappear. In some cases, there will be requests, such as clearing various forgotten serving pieces that populate the cabinets. Other articles will be appeals to adopt such items as the cabinets and stove, when the time comes for those items to move to a good home in exchange for a modest donation. Watch for updates!

March 11, 2022: Obituary For A Dishwasher

Obituary For A Dishwasher

The First Unitarian Kitchen Dishwasher (pictured here) died this past Tuesday, March 1.  It was 65 years old and had a long, productive life. Cause of death was age-related complications. The massive appliance did not have an official name but was called many things, most of which can’t be printed here, especially in recent years as it became more fussy and crotchety in its old age. The death was announced by Ann Mowery, who co-chairs the Church’s Kitchen Project Committee. “Its time had come; probably about a dozen years ago. But with TLC, duct tape and occasional makeshift spare parts, the thing managed to hang on well past its natural life,” reported Mowery.

Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers or detergent, anyone wishing to honor the dishwasher is encouraged to donate to the Kitchen Project Fund, which is covering funeral expenses. Those using the kitchen in the near future are reminded that until a new dishwasher is installed, dishes and utensils that would normally be washed will need to be washed by hand or of the disposable variety. As of this writing, the back shelves are well stocked with paper, plates, cups, bowls etc.

March 4, 2022: Kitchen Project Subcommittees are Up and Cookin’!

from the Kitchen Project Committee

Kitchen Project Committee: Ann Mowery and Dagny Fidler, co-chairs, Mary Ellen Miller, Ron Heideman, Fern Stewart
  • Construction Oversight: Al Powers, Chair; Dagny Fidler, Scribe; Bob Brunia, Dana Sorenson, Jan Svec, Tom Thurtell
  • Logistics: Ann Mowery, Chair; Linda Appelgate, Eric Hayes, Ron Heideman, Marilyn Lantz, Fern Stewart, Janet Thurtell
  • Aesthetics: Karen Kraemer, Chair; Janelle Bailey, Heidi Lackmann, Heidi Levine, Cheryl Long, Chelsea Hayes for consultation; Ann Mowery
  • Furnishings: Pat Headley, Chair; Kevin Boeckholt, Eric Hayes, Terry Lowman, Fern Stewart, Dagny Fidler, Liaison to Construction Oversight and Ad Hoc; Ann Mowery
  • Communications: Mary Ellen Miller, Chair; Kathryn Sutton, Tim Wilson, Deidre Fudge; updating information on the project’s progress, documenting the project’s history, creating a table display in the Gathering Area, and producing monthly Sunday service Spotlights
  • Fundraising: Mary Ellen Miller, Chair; Linda Appelgate, Karen Herwig, Steve Herwig, Marilyn Lantz, Cheryl Long, Ann Mowery.
If you have questions or wish to volunteer, please contact the appropriate chair. To learn about each committee’s work, check out those job descriptions on our new Kitchen Project website page.
The Communications Committee is still seeking volunteers to help with: 1) producing the monthly Sunday Service Spotlight about the KP, 2) create a permanent history of the renovation (photos, video, narrative), and 3) create a table top display about the KP for the Gathering Area and keep it fresh between Sunday services.
Scheduling Note: The Kitchen Project Committee is uncertain when the church will be without a functioning kitchen but is currently asking for no rentals in Griffin Hall from May 23, 2022 through the New Year. Once we have a contractor selected and dates to work with, we can change the scope of the closure. We know this might affect Hospitality, Wednesday night programming, Food Fair Events that people might want to offer, rentals, forums, etc. During the construction, there will be no water or sinks or cooking available from the kitchen and there may be items stored in Griffin Hall. If you have questions, reach out to Ann Mowery.

Feb. 25, 2022:

2022 First Unitarian Kitchen Project Committees & Duties

Kitchen Project Committee:  Ann Mowery and Dagny Fidler, co-chairs, Mary Ellen Miller, Ron Heideman, Fern Stewart

  • Construction Oversight: Al Powers, Chair; Dagny Fidler, Scribe; Bob Brunia, Dana Sorenson, Jan Svec, Tom Thurtell
  • Logistics: Ann Mowery, Chair; Linda Appelgate, Eric Hayes, Ron Heideman, Marilyn Lantz, Fern Stewart, Janet Thurtell
  • Aesthetics: Karen Kraemer, Chair; Janelle Bailey, Heidi Lackmann, Heidi Levine, Cheryl Long, Chelsea Hayes for consultation; Ann Mowery, Ad Hoc
  • Furnishings: Pat Headley, Chair; Kevin Boeckholt, Eric Hayes, Terry Lowman, Fern Stewart, Dagny Fidler, Liaison to Construction Oversight and Ad Hoc; Ann Mowery, Ad Hoc
  • Communications: Mary Ellen Miller, Chair; Kathryn Sutton, Tim Wilson, Deidre Fudge, Ad Hoc; TBA—still need people to put together the project’s history, displays in the Gathering Area, and produce Spotlights
  • Fundraising: Mary Ellen Miller Chair; Linda Appelgate, Karen Herwig, Steve Herwig, Marilyn Lantz, Cheryl Long, Ann Mowery.


Kitchen Project Committee Duties:

  1. Answers design questions, e.g., adding a small undercounter dishwasher and bar sink
  2. Oversee the renovation of the kitchen;
  3. Oversee the decommissioning and recommissioning of the kitchen;
  4. Oversee the expenditure of funds raised for the project;
  5. Request the use of any funds needed from Endowment;
  6. Recommend to the Board what to do with any leftover funds;
  7. Assure that the Congregation is being informed about the progress of the project;
  8. Oversee and coordinate the work of all the subcommittees.

Construction Oversight Duties:

  1. Work with the architect to finalize the design;
  2. Determine the process for retaining a contractor (design build or design bid build) and recommend contractual procedures to the Board for its approval;
  3. Review contractor proposals and recommend a contractor to be retained by the church;
  4. Work with the architect and contractor to develop a project schedule;
  5. Review construction progress;
  6. Address questions that come up during the course of construction;
  7. Work with the architect and contractor to authorize minor changes to the design;
  8. Review and recommend Board approval of any change orders requested by the contractor that change the cost of the project or other terms of the contract;
  9. Review and recommend approval for contractor’s payment applications;
  10. Work closely with the architect and contractor on all aspects of the design and construction, representing the church’s interests in the project.

Logistics Duties:

  1. Determine when the kitchen needs to cease use and notify those making rentals;
  2. Work with the Furnishings Committee, Hospitality Committee, Memorial Committee and staff to determine what items should be kept for long term use;
  3. Plan for and oversee the disposition and removal of all items from the kitchen, including appliances and cupboards, with a focus on re-use, re-purposing and recycling;
  4. Plan with staff and appropriate committees, e.g., Hospitality, Memorials, where items are to be stored during construction and oversee their storage;
  5. Conduct an inventory of the items to be stored and supply this information to the aesthetics committee.
  6. Work with Hospitality to address what services can be offered during the time the kitchen is closed and how to provide them.
  7. Work with the Furnishings Committee to restock the kitchen at the end of the construction.

Aesthetics Duties:

  1. Work with the architect to select finishes—counter tops, cabinets, paint, chairs, table, etc.;
  2. Works with the architect to identify how we will recognize donors, e.g., wall tiles; select mechanism, and work with the Fundraising Committee to get everyone named appropriately.

Furnishings Duties:

  1. Work with the architect to select appliances;
  2. Select and purchase (after approval of the Kitchen Committee) dishes, silverware, glassware, pots and pans, etc., needed to make the kitchen functional and meal serving possible, e.g., new tables for Griffin Hall;
  3. Provide information to the Logistics Committee on space requirements;
  4. Plan orientation for the church community on how to use appliances, etc.

Communications Duties:

  1. Submit biweekly Intercom article;
  2. Arrange for a monthly Spotlight during the Sunday service;
  3. Work with Communications to have up-to-date information about the project on the website, Facebook and other forms of media;
  4. Create a history of the project;
  5. Set up a display area in the Gathering Space;
  6. Snail mail a project update to donors and volunteers midway through the project;
  7. Special invitation to the celebration brunch.

Fund Raising Duties:

  1. Thank donors;
  2. Provide list of donors to Aesthetics Committee for recognition;
  3. Follow up on pledges that have not been paid.