Volunteers join in Portland to build new pavilion even after tornado

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PORTLAND, Mich. - The town of Portland is bustling less than two months after a tornado destroyed several homes and historical buildings.  Part of the construction that is underway though has been in the works for several years.  Volunteers from around the country are in town building a new community pavilion.

Around 50 volunteers were in town Monday framing the pavilion, which will be about 80 feet from the Red Mill.  The project is a grass roots effort that people say have been brought closer together since the tornado.

“I’ve got to say that the tornado brought us together more than it’s ever been, but I believe that it’s always been a community thing," said Noreen Logel, Friends of the Red Mill chair.

The "Friends of the Red Mill" has worked with the founders of the Red Mill Farmer's Market to plan the pavilion.  The group also received help from another non-profit, the Timber Framers Guild.

“Everybody loves to timber frame, and a lot of the guild members here could not do it professionally so this is their ‘workcation’ to learn more, to hone their skills of the trade, and to teach others how to do it," said William Denton, Timber Framers Guild pavilion project manager.

Since the beginning of August, volunteers from the U.S. and Canada, along with local volunteers, have been framing the structure.

“We have so many people from Portland here working and they’re just taking a lot of pride from the community," said Ed Leik, pavilion designer, and Timber Framers Guild member.

Organizers feared that because of the tornado, the project would be stopped because of a lack of available contractors.  But, they raised about $275,000 of the needed $400,000 in less than three years.  Part of that money came from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The timber for the project is homegrown ash and white oak.  The roof will not be plywood, but will be tongue and groove work.  It will also be put together with wooden pegs instead of the normal hardware.

“It’s not going to have a plywood roof when you look up, it’s going to have a tongue and groove roof," said Logel. "It’s not going to have your typical posts and hardware showing because it’s put together with wooden pegs. I think that it’s going to be a work of art.”

There is no expected finishing date yet, as more fundraising needs to take place. Logel said the Friends of the Red Mill is working to raise about $125,000 in funds for the pavilion's indoor bathrooms, lighting, and flooring. If you would like to contribute, contact the Friends of the Red Mill.



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