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Sigma Tau Chi Alumni Association Newsletter – September, 2023


The picture that I am using is a show piece, it is to demonstrate how nice the old Fraternity house could look if we invested a few dollars into her upkeep. Just notice the shutters, and the railings over the Gerry Hendershot Porch. We’re hoping in the next five (5) years to complete these changes, and make further plans for the old “Lakeside” residence in Oswego.


We need to start off an apologize to those of you who may not have received an e-mail of other notification of what’s going on at the house. We have tried to keep up to date records but have not been able stay on top of everything. The good thing is that Brother Rory Carrigan has personally addressed this problem and we have a complete database with the brother’s information. On behalf of the EC and Members of the Board I’d like to thank Rory for all the hard work.





In this message:


 


Fall 2022 Project Recap

By Howard Botting


The background:


As most of you know, once Covid hit we had a real problem getting most repairs at our house done. It was a perfect storm of tremendous demand for contractors, along with our previous contractor, falling ill and not being able to work. I proceeded to interview about eight different recommendations from people in Oswego, and I really was not finding anybody that could do the work before the following year, or they had questionable manpower situation’s. During a meeting with the actives in the spring semester an alumni Brother Matt Romano was present. After listening to my description of the problems, he inquired “hey have you ever heard of Rich & Gardner have you tried them?”


In my prior career before becoming a teacher I actually had done work with Rich & Gardner so I knew exactly who they were but I knew they were a commercial contracting firm of Syracuse. This is not typically someone I would’ve thought about to work on our house just because of the geographic distance involved as well as that they probably wouldn’t typically work on a fraternity house. Matt shared the fact with me that his little brother was Matt Gardner, whose father owns Rich & Gardner. And reaching out to Rich & Gardner, I’m with one of their estimators, Jim Riscica, who turned out to be a fabulous person, as well as being a fraternity member (different college, so not a Sig Tau) from back in his college experience. One thing I found through the years when having people come to look at the house, is that anybody who had previous fraternity membership from their college days, are always super excited to see our house and generally excited to try and help us out.


Meetings and estimates followed, with Jim giving us a worst-case scenario to repair rotted wood structures and install the new columns at the house being around $69,000. While this number turned out to be the very top of what we figured we could potentially afford this worse-case scenario from both our alumni account (typically used for large capital expenditures) and the house account (typically used for small capital projects). However, this was not an easy call since we would potentially expending all of our resources. After much discussion and trepidation, we decided we could pray for a less that worse-case scenario and sign the contract.


Brothers, are we ever glad we took the leap of faith!

How it turned out:


Rich and Gardner turned out to be a really good fit to work with. They communicated as much as needed, sometimes with daily updates and suggestions that helped speed the process along. Work started on 8/29 and the contractors left on 11/9. Over the 10 ½ weeks they not only handled the original scope of the contract, but also allowed us to add on associated items. Rotted wood was removed and replaced around the first-floor walls making up the balance of the dance floor and rear kitchen storage area. All of the previously purchased columns were installed and soffits built out as needed. Additional rot was found removed and replaced on all three exterior walls of the Fishbowl. A donated steel exit door (thank you Matt Mahan) was installed at the end of the kitchen hallway to access the new stairs and patio (also a big thank you to Matt Mahan for leading this project and paying for it all out of his own pocket!!).


The contractors pointed out where some masonry was in poor condition and scheduled their mason for 3 days to cut-out and repoint. We had a local roofer work together with the R&G guys to replace the two flat roofs on the outsides of the Presidential and Alligator bedrooms. The paint was handled by another local company to paint all sections of new wood. The only hiccup was that the weather turned before he could get to the last two wall repairs, but he is scheduled back to finish up in the springtime. New steel railings were custom built to fit around both flat roofs that face north. These were sourced through Brother Todd Chase’s employer, who basically allowed Todd to build everything at “cost”. Can’t get any cheaper than that!!


By the numbers:


Rich and Gardner

1st Draw

36,030.97

2nd draw

11,659.85

Enwright Roofing

Alligator and Presidential Roofs

4,300

Minetto Painting

Paint & Soffit repairs

3,765

JPW Structural Steel

2 Railings: Presidential and Alligator

785

The above totals $56,540.82. So as you can see, the work included items not originally planned for but also masonry, paint, roofing, and code-compliant railings. Rich and Gardner were a great source for contracting and were worth every penny. We will definitely be working with them for future porch projects since they have the employees, can do the work and do a good job staying under budget!


What's next:


We are in discussion with an architect recommended by Rich and Gardner. I met with them at the house for 2 ½ hours on January 2nd. We discussed the scope of the porch projects (Montcalm and Bronson street sides) and took extensive measurements of both interior and exterior surfaces. We are currently awaiting the fee schedule to get the plans (required by the city) drawn up so we can get Jim Riscica to prepare an estimate so we can feel comfortable providing accurate numbers to the Brotherhood. Stay tuned and please give generously. Every dollar collected will be matched by one extremely psyched alumni who is willing to make a dollar for dollar contribution!! Now,,, THAT is one psyched Gator!!


Yours in Brotherhood-


Howard Botting

First Past President

Sigma Tau Chi Alumni Association




 


2023 Chapel Floor Project

By: Howard Botting


While I know many brothers are on our Facebook group and have seen the pictures of the ongoing project in the chapel at the house, this report is really meant to recap the work done so far for those not on Facebook or anyone who missed it.

Brother, Matt Schockmel made a very generous donation of two pallets of oak hardwood flooring to the house. Matt drove all the way from Massachusetts with his truck and trailer to deliver the wood to the house. The gators at the time helped unload the wood into the house, where it’s been acclimating for the past 10 months.




While Matt fully intended on leading the installation efforts. He unfortunately suffered a pretty serious injury while working on a project at home. This made it impossible for Matt to continue as he initially had hoped to. Knowing that this would be a pretty significant project, and that the finishing of the floor would be pretty “smelly” since we are using an oil based floor finish, we know it would be better if there were no brothers in the house at the time. In other words, this isn’t something we can really do in the middle of a semester. I put out a request via our Facebook group to see if anybody was available to help install the floor. Brothers Matt Mahan, James, Reber, Chris, CJ, Spiegel, Bob Verso, Dave Martin, active brothers included Ben Sasso, Griffin Schumacher.


First three work days were spent ripping out the old floor that was there, pulling thousands of nails from the floor, and identifying rotted materials which were damaged by insects & liquids. Day 4 found us removing the original masonry infill between the original floor joists, sistering the floor joists with some very strong engineered lumber. Any of the original 6 1/8”x 5/4” subflooring that was rotted, was replaced with freshly machined Douglas fir lumber. Matching wood that was 175 years old was a bit of a challenge, but we accomplished it with a table saw and a planer. After all the repairs are made. We coated the entire wood floor with paint to help with repelling any moisture that may work its way down. The next day we proceeded to lay down a half inch plywood over the entire surface to provide a fresh nailing surface for the new floor, and to help tie in all the repairs that we had to make. Once again we voted the entire plywood with paint to assist with moisture repelling. Since Brother Mahan had the most experience with this type of project, we made him our project leader, and followed his lead. Matt came up with the awesome idea to include some contrasting colors and make a border all the way around the room with Brazilian Walnut and Maple. Over the next three days, we proceeded to install all the hardwoods to the floor. As you can see from the pictures, it came out really nice. The gray smudges you see on the oak flooring are factory applied knot filler. The oak flooring was a “rustic” oak, so that includes knobs and all the extra filler will go away once the floor is sanded flat. Matt is headed up next week (starting 8/8/23) to sand and apply several coats of finish. We will wait about a week for the finish to fully cure and apply several more coats of finish. We’re using Waterlox, a product which was used previously in the house, and which has had outstanding resiliency to everything the brothers can throw at it!

On the project, over the 8 work days we have invested $3,754 in materials and related job expenses which does not include a total of 285 man-hours of labor!


Check out the photos of the work and consider making an alumni donation to support our future projects!






Yours in brotherhood

Howard Botting

 

Fundraising Report

By: Gary G. Maher

On November 1, 2022, we started a fundraising effort to raise funds to replace and repair the Montcalm Street Porch. After six (actually 7) months of asking for your help, I am pleased to announce the results of our efforts.


As many of you know, this past fundraising effort was done in conjunction with an un-named brother who pledged to match all funds, up to $50,000.00. The only request was to dedicate the new, improved porch to our friend and fellow brother, Gerry Hendershot. As some of you may know, Gerry was very sick and was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Rochester, New York. Gerry passed away in February, 2023.


We started our fundraiser and ran our request by the brotherhood, hoping they would jump in to help a brother when he was down. In the first six months we raised approximately $20,000.00, thanks in part to many psyched Alumni who dug down deep to help. What was truly amazing was as we came closer to the end of the fundraiser, the money came pouring in. I would like to thank Hal Didner and the pledge class of Fall ’82 and Spring ’83 for their fundraising challenge, and other brothers like Jim Bill, Frank Murano and many others. Yes, even Gerry Hendershot who donated $1,000.00. By the end of July, 2023, we had raised just short of $30,000.00.


The un-named Brother, who match the donated funds, sent us a check for $40,000.00. This was a match of the $30,000.00 raised and another $10,000.00 to push the numbers higher. We even received another check from a brother for $1,000.00. This brought our total raised to $71,000.00.


Construction on the Montcalm/Hendershot Porch is currently out for bidding purposes and we are hoping that we can start before the Fall rainy season sets in. We are hoping to have the project done in time for next years Alumni Weekend, where we will install a plaque honoring Gerry and the guys who helped make this project possible.


We are already looking forward to the next project, which depending on our budget, will enhance the Montcalm/Hendershot Porch with the addition of a memorial walkway to honor all our fraternity brothers. Please keep an eye out for news and fundraising request for this project.


Thank you again to all the brothers for all your time and effort in helping us keep this little piece of Oswego alive.


Yours in Brotherhood,


Gary G. Maher

Board of Directors

Sigma Tau Chi Alumni Association.



 

Membership Data Improvement Project

By Rory Carrigan


I have prepared a notice for the newsletter regarding the data improvement project. Please share with the EC members for their review and editing. It doesn't matter to me who it is sent from and would appreciate any fluff anyone wants to add. I am a bean counter by trade!. I see the notice in the newsletter as an introduction to the project and a separate mailing sent after the newsletter as noted in the notice. I am attaching the current profile data file and the file to provide updates which would be part of the mailing. Most of the information gathered was from alumni association data, college data and other public data sources. It should be noted that the profile data includes deceased members, spouses and some others who were included in alumni association data provided to me. I am attaching a separate file that includes some notes etc. that we can use to pull out deceased, spouses and others that alumni association feels should be excluded. I would be happy to participate in a call to discuss what should or should not be included. If it is easier for me to just work with one person to go through this that would be fine with me. Thanks


Alumni Association Membership Data Improvement Project-

Our success is dependent on our members and our ability to keep in contact. You will be receiving the email below in a separate mailing! Please take the time to update our Alumni Association records. Thanks in advance!

You are receiving this email as part of a comprehensive project to substantiate and update Alumni Association data for all brothers on record. As you may know, the Sigma Tau Chi Alumni Association started a fundraiser on November 1, 2022 with the purpose of fixing the Montcalm Street porch. The porch will be named The Gerry Hendershot Porch in honor of Gerry who recently passed away on February 19, 2023 from Leukemia. As part of this fund raising project we found that our membership profiles needed serious updating. We estimated that only 30% of all fraternity brothers were included in the Alumni Association database. Many were incomplete and outdated. We are looking to expand and improve the accuracy of our membership database.

Our goal is to confirm the following information for all fraternity brothers- First name, last name, email address, mailing address, phone number and pledge class (ex. spring 2010). We were able to obtain college Alumni Association data and incorporate it into the Alumni Association database. We now have 1,152 unique records. The college data was pretty accurate. There were over 400 matches with our alumni members and approximately 200 additions. The four hundred individuals in common were compared and the differences reconciled where possible with software available to the public (Truthfinder, Peoplefinders, Spokeo,etc.).

We ask that you take five minutes to confirm your profile data in the attached file “Ongoing Data File”. This is the current information that we have for you and other Sigma Tau Chi Alumni and associates. You can confirm your email and profile data simply by responding-Confirmed to this email. You can submit updated information by returning a completed "Update Data File" also attached to carrigan.rory@gmail.com

Thanks for your support!



 

Financial Report

By Gary G. Maher


Brother Bob Verso took over the handling of the Fraternity’s Books as the Fraternity Treasurer. Bob with assistance of President, Jeff Langdon will be collecting rents and paying the bills for the fraternity house.


As for the Alumni Association, please remember to pay your dues, $100.00 per year. It’s through your donations that we are able to continue working on the house and fixing the place up. As you all know, a 250-year-old house takes a lot of work to keep going in the right direction.



 

A Word From Our President

By: Jeff Langdon


Greetings Brother Alumni.


This is my first introductory message as your current Alumni Association President, and I am privileged to be doing so. The first year of my tenure has been a lot of fun and as always, I’m thrilled with the level of volunteer Brothers that contribute to the health and perpetuation of our fine Fraternal Organization.

We certainly can always use more hands as that definitely makes the workload that much lighter. If you’re not sure how to volunteer, please just ask any Brother you know. The House of Blue is constantly in a state of renovation and repair. We are always on one project or another. When not working on major projects we have a local handy-man who does everything from unclog a sewer-line to changing shower heads to re-wiring an obsolete circuit. His fees are modest and

his work is trustworthy but his availability isn’t 100% guaranteed so we try and capitalize on his time whenever we can get him there to execute the usual laundry list of repairs. His expenses are paid out of the rent paid by the in-house Brothers but we can always use Alumni donations to have him perform larger projects. Please keep that in mind if you have an idea and would like it implemented. We can work together to make your idea for an improvement a reality.


Recently the Chapel floor was completely removed and new hardwoods were installed. The wood materials were generously donated by Matt Shockmel. The labor provided was donated by Bob Verso, Jim Reber, Matt Mahan and CJ Spiegel. Omnipresent as ever is Howard Botting with contributions by Active Brother Ben Sasso and a few others I can’t remember. Apologies for any omissions. This new floor should be a welcome improvement to take us into the next 75 years. With the renovation of the North façade complete we are pivoting to the new porch. I’ll defer to Gary Maher’s portion of this newsletter to expand on this.

At this past summer reunion, I had the privilege to take a Member of the University Alumni Association (yes – we are a University now) around our house and describe the various initiatives that we have underway. He was impressed by our commitment and dedication to maintaining and restoring this Oswego landmark. He further commented on how amazed he was with not only our longevity but our health as an organization, particularly the Alumni base. It’s a shining example of those who have gone before us and those who continue our work with pride.


Yes, my first year has been fun and educational. I take great pride in serving as the temporary president. This is a two-year term so I’m trying to help as much as I can while time flies by but with those who selflessly dedicate their time the job is a lot easier. Thank you to all who help keep us alive and prosperous. If you can please pay your dues. They’re only $100 a year. If you can afford a few dollars more your generosity is truly appreciated. Thank you all for your dedication to the best Fraternity not just in Oswego but the entire SUNY System!


Yours in Brotherhood!

Jeff Langdon – Fall’86



 

Looking Ahead to 2024 and Beyond

By: Gary G. Maher


We’ve retained a contractor for the Hendershot Porch, and are in the process of getting the required permits from the town. We are waiting for the active community to come back for the fall semester and at this point we may have 19 guys living in the house. We should be starting the removal of the old porch and cleaning up of the material under it within the next few weeks. As you know, the weather in Oswego can be fickle, so we are going to do as much as we can before the weather closes us down for the remainder of the year.


Looking ahead towards 2024, we will be continuing with the work on the house, especially the porch, but again we are going to work when we can and when Mother Nature permits.


In 2024, we are planning on another Alumni Work Week for sometime in July. Right now, we have a tentatively scheduled for July 12, 2024 through July 19, 2024. We are planning to install more wood flooring around the main floor of the house. This is a labor-intensive project, so the more volunteer’s we get the better. If you like to join in and assist with the work, please contact me at garymaher8@gmail.com; or Matt Mahan. Matt will be taking the lead on this project, with the help and assistance of Matt’s son.


If you’re not a hard-working type guy, we also need help in cleaning the kitchen and cooking meals for the brothers. Yes, its sounds disgusting, but someone has to do it. I, myself will be helping the guys in the kitchen and making runs to the store for food, beer, ice, cups and fixing meals for the boys. We’ll be taking a collection for food. The Brothers will also be supplying the bourbon. As you know an army runs on its stomach, so we need all the help we can.


Rooms in the house are limited, so reserve early. Just because you are renting a room come the Fall, you do not have a reservation for Harborfest. So again, you need to contact one of the Alumni on the committee to reserve a place to sleep. Again, bring a tent, sleeping bag or air mattress so you can crash in a comfortable spot.


If any of the active community would plan to come up for the festivities, you must let us know your coming if you plan to crash at the house.


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