Church gets new steeple in time for Christmas

Amber Aldaco By Amber Aldaco

Dec. 22, 2017 at 10:06 p.m.

Crews with Clegg Industries Inc. and South Texas Crane Service are seen in the reflection of a puddle while installing the new steeple at First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Victoria. Creating the steeple took Clegg Industries about 500 worker hours over two months to complete. The steeple, which was installed Wednesday, stands 24 feet tall and is about 7 feet in diameter.

Crews with Clegg Industries Inc. and South Texas Crane Service are seen in the reflection of a puddle while installing the new steeple at First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Victoria. Creating the steeple took Clegg Industries about 500 worker hours over two months to complete. The steeple, which was installed Wednesday, stands 24 feet tall and is about 7 feet in diameter.   Evan Lewis for The Victoria Advocate

For as long as David Dentler has been a member of the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, he's never recalled the church building sustaining any kind of damage.

That changed with Hurricane Harvey.

The Category 4 winds of Harvey knocked over a major aesthetic feature of the church - its 60-year-old wooden steeple.

"Even though the steeple fell, I still thought we were fortunate compared to others," said Dentler, the church's board of trustees chair. "It could have been much worse."

Wednesday, a new copper steeple was placed on the church. The steeple is part of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey at the church, which still has roofing work to be done on one wing of the structure. The church sustained about $200,000 in damages, he said.

The new steeple is constructed with aluminum and sheeted with copper, said J.B. Clegg, vice president of operations at Clegg Industries Inc., the company that created the new steeple.

The company started working on the steeple in mid-October, and though the church did not set a deadline, Clegg set his own.

"My goal was to have this done by Christmas," Clegg said. "I'm glad we were able to make that happen."

The steeple was a new and interesting project for Clegg because the company specializes in specialty vehicles, trailers and structures.

"It took a lot of sleepless nights to figure out how this was going to be done," Clegg said.

The octagonal steeple stands 24 feet tall and has an 86-inch base and was created in sections. The original wooden steeple featured four spikes near the top - they were probably used to point north, south, west and east, Clegg said. To keep the new steeple close to the original, Clegg incorporated the same design into the new one.

The 6-foot cross that was also situated at the top of the former steeple was salvaged after the storm, Dentler said. The cross was refurbished and was placed on the new steeple Wednesday.

The Rev. Jim Pearson watched Wednesday as a 110-ton crane lifted the 4,000-pound steeple onto the rooftop. Pearson said the church, which has about 300 members, will probably have a re-dedication ceremony.

"It's thrilling to see it go back up again," he said. "It's been a long time coming."


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