Community center rebuilds after fire

Local News

GILMAN, Ill. (WCIA) — People are rebuilding the Garage Community Center after a massive fire burned through part of it earlier this year.

The fire happened on May 9, 2018 in Gilman at North Central and Second Street. It destroyed the old lumberyard building and the smoke carried over to the community center next door. Originally the insurance company said they would only pay for half of the repair costs, but then they came back with a better offer. 

The center’s president Ray Smith recalls the moment he found out about the fire saying, “I got a phone call telling me you have to get down here because the fire did go through the roof.” 

The center had to close down because of the damage. 

Smith says, “When I got here it really hit me hard. I fell to the ground crying because it meant a lot to me because this is for the kids.” 

For years this was a place kids could come to have pizza nights, play games just hang out in a safe spot. 

Smith says, “It keeps them out of trouble, it keeps them off the streets and it gives them someplace to be.” 

Every Friday they would open their garage door to let kids in. Mason Manzke says, “I like this place because it’s a good place to hang out with your friends.” 

They closed for about three months. It was devastating for people who cared about this place. The repairs cost around $80,000 and they didn’t have enough money. But discouragement would only last for a little while. 

Smith says, “We had enough insurance to cover everything. Plus we’ll have extra to get extra things fixed.” 

They’re getting more games, installing a new garage door entrance, tearing out walls and repainting. Some of the kids helped to clean up. 

Alyssa Cnudde says, “I painted all the blue columns everything and I helped with the walls and clearing all the stuff out of here.” 

They still have a lot of work to do, but at the end of summer this place will reopen.

Smith says, “It’s getting more exciting because the more construction we get done the more exciting i am to get the doors back open for the kids.” 

The grand reopening is Saturday September 8, 2018 at noon. Anyone is invited to come. 

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