DURHAM, Mo. -- The Durham Community Center is slated to get some major repairs through a $30,000 fundraising campaign.
The 55-year-old building is a popular gathering spot for wedding receptions, family reunions, community events and other local celebrations.
"It's used by a lot of people for a lot of different things," said Mary Johnson, the center's longtime treasurer.
However, the center has been falling into disrepair in recent years. The exterior wooden siding is deteriorating and coming off in places, and the concrete floor is cracking from the flooding that occurs whenever the town is hit with heavy rains.
On top of that, the center has airflow and visibility issues. These issues began years ago when the former open-air shelter house was enclosed on all sides by heavy wooden panels. As a result, in order for parents to be able to look outside to see their children on the playground or nearby ballfield, several top panels on hinges must be unscrewed and carefully lowered down from the inside, which can be a burdensome and unsafe operation.
The board plans to address this issue by installing two overhead sliding doors on the center's south side facing the playground and one overhead door on the north side facing the ballfield and restrooms.
The board also wants to install new siding on the exterior, put in a new concrete floor that's 5 inches higher and make some electrical improvements.
An estimate from a contractor indicated all of this work would cost about $30,000. So the board decided to launch a capital campaign that, so far, has included several small fundraising events and private solicitations from individuals and businesses.
"We've got a lot of small donations," Johnson said. "We've hit the $10,000 mark, so we're one-third of the way there."
Even though the fundraising campaign has a long way to go, the board plans to get started later this month on the various improvements so the center will be ready to start hosting gatherings early next year.
Johnson said a local bank offered to give the organization a loan that can be paid off gradually as more donations arrive.
"We're just hoping the donations will come in," Johnson said.
Johnson has been involved as a volunteer with the Durham Community Center ever since the facility was built in 1963 -- one year after the former Durham School on the same site was destroyed in a massive fire.
"That's when people got together and bought the ground," she said.
Many improvements have been made over the years.
The ballpark was built in 1993 for more than $45,000. Then in 2000 a half-mile walking path was installed. That was followed by a campaign to plant 90 memorial trees with plaques bearing the names of the people who donated the trees.
New bathrooms were built in 2009, and new playground equipment and an outside basketball court were added in recent years.
The park is often a beehive of activity -- especially on spring and summer nights when baseball or softball games are played under the lights.
Phil Harvey, who serves on the center's governing board, said he's glad to see steps being taken to repair the center and make it even better for the future.
"It's something that has needed to be done for a long time," he said.
Donations to the Durham Community Center's improvement campaign can be mailed in care of Johnson at 101 W. Bryan, No. 23, Ewing, MO 63440, or dropped off at United State Bank in Ewing.