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A new memorial for Howie
A Friday ceremony will be open to the public to formally name the Whitmore Avenue/Highway interchange the Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson Memorial Interchange.

The event will be held at 11 a.m. Friday on Poplar Street adjacent to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Whitmore Avenue. Ceres police officers and firefighters, city officials and dignitaries like Sheriff Adam Christiansen, District Attorney Birgit Fladager, state Assemblyman Bill Berryhill and state Senator Anthony Cannella are expected to attend. Police equipment, including the armored Bear SWAT vehicle and fire ladder trucks, will also be available for viewing.

Eric Ingwerson will emcee the event.

The naming ceremony recognizes the late Ceres Police Sgt. Howard Stevenson who was murdered in the line of duty on Jan. 9, 2005 outside of George's Liquors on Sequoia Street. He left a widow and three children who are also expected to attend the ceremony.

City officials were successful in getting Berryhill to carry legislation to name the new overpass and interchange for Stevenson. Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk made a trip to Sacramento April 13 to assist Berryhill get Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 20 moved out of the Assembly Transportation Committee. It passed as a consent item.

Originally deWerk hoped to get a section of freeway named after Stevenson but Berryhill's office learned that there were no available unnamed sections in the area. Highway 99 from Mitchell Road in Ceres to the Merced County line was named after Joash E. Paul, the late county supervisor, in 2003. Other portions of Highway 99 in the county are named after the late former state Assemblyman John G. Veneman and Jerry Medina, a teen accident victim.

DeWerk said he sees the naming the overpass just as "more fitting" since it would be seen by mostly local drivers. Kim Chapman, a friend of the Stevensons, said the interchange "actually turned out perfect because of the proximity to the Police Department."

The state was unable to fund the cost of and Caltrans labor of installing the signs declaring the new name of the interchange so the Ceres Lions Club and the Ceres Police Officers Association chipped in $3,900, said Chapman.

"There's been a huge outpouring of support," she said.