A $150,000 grant from The Ford Family Foundation and a $40,000 donation from residents Douglas and Jane Naversen have pushed fundraising for the town’s community center to within $35,000 of its goal.

“The support of the community was almost overwhelming," said Jacksonville Community Center board president Rick Patsche. "A year ago we put this package together. Everybody just rallied behind this after they saw our true commitment."

Creation of a defined mission 18 months ago after 17 years of efforts, followed by a building plan, were keys to success, he said.

Groundbreaking likely will occur in late March or April, said Patsche. Construction is expected to be complete in four to five months.

The Ford and Naversen funds give the group $523,000 in commitments toward the $558,000 goal.

A Collins Foundation matching grant of $40,000, awarded in August, was equaled by donations from individuals, businesses and civic groups, including a couple of $10,000 gifts, several in the $3,000 to $4,000 range and numerous smaller donations, said Patsche.

In addition, Jacksonville Seniors Inc. will donate $153,000 when the groundbreaking is held. The money was collected over the years from sales at the group’s thrift shop on Oregon Street. Artists in Jacksonville have raised $50,000 through the Celebrate the Arts event. In-kind services and donations totaling $40,000 have been pledged.

Ausland Group, which is overseeing the project, has requested building permits from the city and sent out requests for bids, due Feb. 21, to nearly 100 contractors and subcontractors. The town’s Historic and Architectural Review Commission has given approval for the work.

A 50-year lease from the city allows the nonprofit center to build on property at Main and Fourth streets and to remodel and tie in the existing 800-square-foot Sampson cottage to the new, 2,000-square-foot building. A great room for events and classes, smaller meeting rooms, an event kitchen, ADA-compliant restrooms and a small outdoor patio are in the project.

— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.