Fundraising efforts for building the new Community Center here got a boost Wednesday when Ameren Missouri donated $1,000 toward its construction.
Employees of the Ameren Callaway Nuclear Plant met with Charles Schmid, president of the Portland Community Center board, at the site of the community center to present him with the check. Dirt work has already been started at the site, but Schmid said further work will have to wait until the weather warms.
"We'll work on it anytime ... just as soon as the weather permits," he said.
The Portland Community Center burned down on Aug. 15 after an electrical fire started due to a malfunctioning air conditioner, Schmid said. Since that time, members of the center's fundraising committee have been trying to raise the needed $60,000 to build a new structure.
Paul Pealer, chairman of the committee, said the insurance company provided $24,500 and donations and fundraisers have brought in another $20,500. With Wednesday's donation, he said the committee is up to about $46,000 and needs about $15,000 more. However, Pealer said they have enough money to start construction on the outside of the building.
Schmid said the group is counting on a lot of volunteer labor to construct the building, so money can just be spent on materials.
Saying the members needed all the support they could get for the project, Schmid said, "we certainly appreciate Ameren doing this."
"A lot of us live and work in these communities around the plant here," said Steve Leroux, maintenance coordinator at Callaway Nuclear plant and a member of the grant team for the center. "So, we want to be good neighbors and support the efforts of the community center."
Leroux said the community members help out the plant when it's needed, and donating to different community causes was a way to return the favor.
Pealer said the community center was an important meeting place for Portland residents.
"It's the only place in that part of the community in Portland to have family reunions, get-togethers, to socialize," he said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the construction of a new center can send money to Portland Community Center, P.O. Box 118, Portland, Mo. 65067.