Flandreau’s Ss. Simon and Jude Catholic Church is replacing its elevator to improve access to its sanctuary and fellowship hall.
The project, started a couple weeks ago, is scheduled to be finished at the end of August or early September, said the Rev. Doug Binsfeld.
The old elevator, which was a closet-sized residential elevator, is being replaced with an elevator similar to what would be in a hospital, he said. The old one installed dozens of years ago was difficult to use for someone who is in a wheelchair, unless the person had someone helping them, he said. In addition, it wasn’t working well anymore and occasionally people would get stuck inside.
“Sometimes it wouldn’t stop where it needed to. It would just shut itself down, and people would get stuck in the elevator,” Binsfeld said.
Church members started a fund to replace the elevator, but the project has been more expensive then estimated so they will continue to raise money and encourage more donations to the fund. Once everything is included, the project is expected to cost $490,000, he said.
“The people were real supportive of it,” Binsfeld said. “It’s going to really push us on the budget. But we can make it.”
Part of the cost of the project is architectural fees to help match the elevator addition to the look of the 101-year-old building. Workers have torn off the old elevator area and will rebuild for the new.
“We’re trying to keep it as close to the design of the church as possible,” he said.
Once completed, people will be able to go up to worship and down to the fellowship hall. If there is an emergency, an ambulance crew would be able to use the elevator, as would any pallbearers for funerals. As it was, people would have to carry a casket or stretcher up and down steps.
Until the project is completed, parishioners who are unable to use steps can worship in Elkton or Colman where both Catholic churches are handicapped accessible, Binsfeld said.