Good riddance to a big mortgage

Monday, October 27, 2008

The folks over at Cape Girardeau Senior Center recently celebrated paying off the mortgage for their building. Early.

But no one could convince senior center administrator Susan McClanahan to burn the paper mortgage. They tried, she said.

"Up until that morning of the party, they were going to burn the mortgage. But we have people on oxygen, not to mention it was dangerous. You can't start a fire in the building," she said, laughing.

The 15-year-old building's original mortgage was $550,000.

"I think it's really important that people know that absolutely no federal, state, county or city money went into paying off that mortgage," McClanahan said. "Every penny of it was private contributions and donations. People in the community have supported us time and time again at our public dinners, bought things that we've sold and most importantly, made memorial bequests."

This year the center received more than $200,000 in bequests, she said.

"One lady left us a large amount, about $60,000, and we don't even know who she is. We don't know if she had an affiliation, if she had a family member served here, or what. She had no children and no spouse. It just, like, fell out of the sky to us. The others were strong supporters of the center and worked hard to get the building built."

Jay and Alma Lee Slinkard and John and Cecelia "Skeets" Sonderman were just two couples of many people who spent "hours and hours and hours" devoted to senior issues and programs.

The payoff of the senior center's mortgage nearly demanded a celebration, especially considering that early resolution "saved some interest," McClanahan said.

"We invited some key people who have helped us and all past board members that we could find," she said. "So many of them are gone now."

Instead of flames, the old mortgage was ceremonially shredded, with a series of honorary representatives: Marjorie Hildebrand stood in for deceased board members, including her late husband and past board president, Richard Hildebrand; Bill Ford stood for the folks who use the center; current board member Victor Gunn shredded for all current board members; Delia Lampley stood for all the volunteers; and with Mayor Jay Knudtson acted as proxy for the community of supporters.

In addition to officials from the United Way of Southeast Missouri and the Area Agency on Aging, McClanahan said she was delighted to welcome her predecessor, JoNelle Lingo.

McClanahan also shredded an old rumor as we spoke. Seems there was a story that a homebound client who expected lunch opened her door to a man with a Styrofoam package who insisted on being paid -- and that's not how the senior center's program operates, she said. Turned out he was a restaurant delivery man at the wrong address.

"There was a language barrier. She was scared. It was a total misunderstanding," McClanahan said. "That was a long time ago, at least five or six months. I can't believe that story is still floating around."

Folks are getting ready for the second annual Sock Hop to benefit the Cape Area Family Resource Center at 1202 S. Sprigg St. Twice attempted as an outdoor event and twice canceled by bad weather, the party will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday inside the resource center. Tickets are $20 a person and proceeds help pay for a new roof. Call 334-8170 or 332-7673 for details.

A belated congratulations to Eugenia Morales for winning the city of Jackson's drawing for free weekly curbside recycling at the fifth annual Recycling Center Customer Appreciation Day contest, attended by nearly 300 people.

Questions, suggestions or tips for Lost on Main Street? E-mail or call 388-3646.

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