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Center is nearing its finish
An excitement is growing in Ceres now that finishing touches are underway on the $6.3 million Ceres Community Center. City officials are planning a number of events to celebrate the opening of what will be the crowned jewel of downtown at 2701 Fourth Street.

"I think people are getting extremely excited about it," said Doug Lemcke, the director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities for the city of Ceres. "This has been a seven-year process and now people are finally seeing the results of all the planning and meetings."

A Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony has been tentatively planned for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 30. Plans are to have on hand all of the instructors on hand for the dance, computer and arts and crafts classes to be offered at the center.

Last-minute building problems could postpone the grand opening, said Lemcke. The elevator must be certified and the exterior trellis must be installed and painted. Exterior lettering and application of an anti-graffiti coating are also among the remaining contractor jobs.

The center's massive furniture supply will be delivered May 18 and installed until May 22.

"We'll be open for business June 1 if everything goes as planned," Lemcke said.

The first official ceremony will take place at noon on Friday, May 8 when the Smyrna Lodge # 532 of the Free and Accepted Masons of California hosts a Cornerstone Laying Ceremony. The public is invited to attend to watch the planting of a 50-year time capsule filled with memorabilia relating to Ceres. Lunch will be offered for $3 per person after the ceremony at the Ceres Masonic Lodge, 2904 Third Street. Everyone is invited to attend the lunch but reservations are required by calling Del Davis at 537-5643.

The Masons have a long-standing tradition of "laying of the cornerstone" of public schools and other public buildings ever since the building of the U.S. Capitol. The 45-minute ceremony will be conducted by Larry F. Adamson, Grand Master of Masons in California and include music by the Ceres High School Band, National Anthem by Rachel Garrett, remarks by Vice Mayor Chris Vierra and officers of the Masonic Lodge.

The capsule is slated to be opened by the city on May 9, 2059.

The city is also formalizing plans for an evening "Red, White and Blue Gala," a semi-formal gala for Saturday, June 27. The event will be hosted by the three largest service clubs in Ceres: The Ceres Lions, Ceres Rotary and Soroptimist International of Ceres. Tickets will be $50 per person and will include appetizers, dinner, dancing, dessert, and a raffle.

At Monday's City Council meeting, the Ceres Lions Club donated $5,000 to the Ceres Youth Commission to buy materials for the teen lounge within the center. Lemcke said the teens will help insure the proper use of the room, which will likely include two electronic games. The CYC will be responsible for maintaining and replacing the amenities of the room.