Editor’s Note: In today’s article -- our next-to-last before “signing off” -- we thought it a good idea to recap the problems that SGG has had (and continues to have) with its “new” facility’s prematurely crumbling infrastructure. The new facility was supposed to address all of the concerns that SGG had with its old one. It did not. Instead, it has brought new problems of its own – problems that are popping up with disturbing regularity. Here is our article…
The average life of a house roof these days (with standard asphalt shingles) is about twenty-five years, give or take. And, unless it suffers unusually severe wind damage or whatever, it lasts that long without encountering any leaks. But not so with the SGG cult center: its roof life seems to be measured in months, not years. The roof at the cult center’s “new” West Chester facility, not yet fifteen years old, has been springing leaks almost since the day the cult center was built. And, as we’ve reported several times, there are two reasons for this: first, the roof is horizontally flat (vs. “pitched”) because Tony Cekada – overruling SGG’s architect on this -- wanted it that way (because this made the place look more “medieval”; and, second, it leaks because it’s shoddily built.
Actually, the whole facility, from the ground up, is shoddily built. The roof itself has sprung so many leaks that Dannie has felt compelled to promise his Gerties a “leak report” (as if roof leaks were an expected, regularly occurring sort of thing). And the rest of the cult center is not faring much better, either. In previous articles (click here and here), we reported how poorly constructed the cult center is (and also how unnecessary the building of this new facility was).2 Dannie’s “sermon in stone” (as he still refers to it), for instance, is actually stone veneer (from China) that is hung on (with “pins”) – an arrangement that not only provides no structural support to the building, but actually detracts from it structurally.
The result of all this shoddy workmanship has been one problem after another: a roof that’s had a half dozen or so leaks (and as many unsuccessful attempts at repairing it), several (prematurely) failing HVAC units, several electrical problems, repeated infestations of vermin (including raccoons and mice), and a parking lot that needs re-paving (and new lights). Even the goldfish-stocked “grotto” -- another useless frill -- has had to be repaired. Hardly a week goes by without Dannie mentioning the need for something to be fixed – and hinting (or downright asking) for his Gerties to pay for it.
And the reason that Dannie must continually beg for money is simple: he and Tony have never “put any acorns away for the winter.” (They thought the “good times” of the Brueggemann “gravy train” era would last forever – but they didn’t.) These problems that SGG is now facing should have been anticipated– and money set asidefor them. But, because Dannie and Tony have blown SGG’s “acorns” on vacation travel junkets and their other creature comforts, there’s no money left in the kitty to pay for needed replacements – or even for routine maintenance. And now Dannie is trying to pass these expenses off as unforeseen “extras,” as it were.
What makes all of this so ironic is that the “new” cult center needed never to have been built in the first place. The old facility (in Sharonville, Ohio) was much better constructed than SGG’s (now crumbling) “new” facility (and, in fact, will probably still be standing long after the “new” SGG is a pile of rubble). And, although not quite so big as the new facility, it had ample space for SGG’s congregation. It also had a large basement (which the new facility hasn’t) that could be used as a “cry room” for mothers with babies – and one that, unlike the new facility’s vestibule “cry room,” was air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter. Plus, best of all, the Sharonville facility was completely paid for.
Now some people might argue that the old facility was crowded – especially when it came to the school (located in its basement) and “storage.” But SGG’s supposed need for “extra space” -- for its school and for “storage” -- could easily have been met by buying the building next door -- an “Odd Fellows Hall” – which was not only available, but could have been bought “for a song.” (That Odd Fellows Hall also had plenty of parking space – another one of the “reasons” given for moving.) There was absolutely no need for the new facility.1
And, speaking of the new facility, the Brueggemann family (who comprised by far the biggest contingent of SGG’s congregation – and most of its revenue) offered free land in northern Kentucky (where most of the Brueggemann’s lived) on which to build it. But Dannie wanted it built north of Cincinnati, because he claimed that it was SGG’s “demographic epicenter.” (It wasn’t. Northern Kentucky, with its large Brueggemann contingent, was its true epicenter.) But Dannie wanted the new facility built in West Chester -- because was closer to the restaurants that he and Tony frequented. (The old facility, by the way, was just as close to those restaurants – perhaps closer.)
The land on which the new facility sits, by the way, was actually more suited for commercial use. Donated by a previous SGG benefactor, the lot adjoins an industrial park. And that being so, it was commercially valuable. In fact, it could have been reportedly been sold for a half-million dollars or more – more than enough to buy that Odd Fellows building, with plenty of money left over. But Dannie wanted his “sermon in stone,” because (he thought) it would look more “impressive” – which it really doesn’t.2
Another irony about the new facility is that one of the biggest reasons for its being built was the “school.” Dannie’s “great endeavor” was built to accommodate a large number of students; and in anticipation of that, “the principal” was sent for to run it (along with his large family). But the school never “blossomed” – especially after the principal’s aberrant behavior became embarrassingly apparent. Enrollment, never robust to begin with, continues to dwindle to this day. The school, built to accommodate as many as two hundred students, now serves little more than a dozen. That must be the bitterest of ironies for Dannie: the school has never come to fruition – yet he is forever after saddled with the cost of paying for it. (It’s like having to perpetually make payments on a car, but not being able to drive it!) 3
Dannie’s SGG, like that London Bridgeof nursery rhyme fame, is indeed falling down. It’s a Hollywood stage set, built for “the show” – Dannie’sshow. Dannie and Tony probably figured that it wouldn’t last for the long haul, but long enough to get them into retirement. But even that is now in jeopardy: the repair bills are beginning to mount up. And as SGG’s Hollywood stage set continues to crumble, the more the costs to patch it up it will continue to climb – eventually reaching a point where they will become unsustainable.4 (The only future that we see for it – when it eventually falls into ruins – is as a wildlife refuge for raccoons, or possibly an archeological dig site for baby bunny bones.)
As time inexorably marches on, this will only get worse; and the Gerties will be asked to throw even more good money after bad (as they are already doing). So, Gerties, before Dannie’s dump becomes a complete pile of rubble (and its rotting infrastructure gets reclaimed by raccoons, rodents, and other assorted critters), we suggest that you get out while you still can. Or -- better still -- get out now.
1 Another reason for building the new facility was that it would be more “energy efficient.” But that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case, because Dannie is always whining about “high heating bills.” The new facility, for one thing, does not have gasservice; and therefore, for all its energy needs, it must rely on electricity (which is substantially more expensive). So, the difference in energy cost between the old and new facility is probably negligible. (Another thing: the reason why SGG’s HVAC units are prematurely failing is that they are heat pumps, which don’t last as long as conventional heating devices.)
2 On its website, the panoramic view of SGG’s facility does look “impressive.” But, for one thing, the picture is “turned” about 45* on its side, to make it look like a large, campus-like complex in a pastoral setting. The truth is, it’s right next door to an industrial park (its “school” – on the right side of the picture – is about 50 feet away from a corrugated-metal factory building). (Click here to see this on “Google Earth.”) And the “structure” on the picture’s left side -- a “cloister walkway” – is actually a walkway to nowhere.
The walkway was originally intended to connect to a large Gothic-style church (Dannie’s “sermon in stone”). But the church never materialized. (The Gerties, even as gullible as they were back then, wouldn’t “spring” for that boondoggle -- so Dannie had to settle for using the school’s (intended) gymnasium as a “church.”) What the picture also doesn’t reflect is SGG’s leaking roof, its deteriorating parking lot, its raccoon-infested “church,”and a host of other problems with its prematurely failing physical facility.
3 It is widely known that Dannie cannot get rid of “the principal.” He’s stuck with him, whether he likes it or not – even though all of the latter’s kids are now “graduated.” (The school, by the way, has had more Lotarski graduates than all its other graduates combined.) Most of the “school’s” rooms, by the way, are not used for “teaching,” but as repositories for Dannie’s and Tony’s junk: their horde of “ecclesiastical goodies” that they’ve accumulated over the years. It seems that its only real value has been as a warehouse, not an educational institution. (For more on the school, click here and here.)
4 During this past Winter's arctic cold spell, Dannie happened to mention in his January 7 ’Corner: “How busy we’ve been! Oh, our fair share of frozen pipes and catching up from Christmas, but more.” [Our bold emphasis.] Frozen pipes? If the facility had been properly built, this should never have happened. If the piping had been put between interior walls – as it should have been (and which has been common construction practice for the past 50 years or so) –it never would have frozen. But it was obviously installed in the exterior walls (without proper insulation to boot) – a fatal design flaw. But that’s been the bane of both SGG and the Brooksville cult center: they’re both shoddily designed -- and shoddily built.