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Center opening delayed
If you were planning to attend the Grand Opening ceremony of the Ceres Community Center on Saturday, May 30, forget it. A hitch with the elevator in the new $6.8 million center has forced city officials to postpone event.

A ceremony was set for 2 p.m. Saturday. But the center's elevator needs to certified before occupancy is allowed and the state licensed inspectors found a problem. The computer unit in the elevator's fire alarm malfunctioned and certification was withheld. It could take up to 30 days for them to return, said Doug Lemcke, director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities for the city of Ceres.

The new Grand Opening is set for 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, he said.

"It's set in stone," Lemcke said.

City officials will open the center at a Grand Opening ceremony at 2701 Fourth Street, Ceres. Tours will be offered and the public will be able to meet arts and crafts, yoga, gymnastics, and computer instructors of a new slate of classes to be offered in the center. Hors d'ouevres will be served to the approximately 300 to 400 expected to attend.

The center has only hosted one ceremony thus far, the May 8 Cornerstone Ceremony hosted by the Masonic Lodge. The center was not open to tours, however.

The center features rooms for computer use, dance and art classes, large gatherings for parties, reunions, receptions and community events. Additionally, the Ceres Planning Commission and Ceres City Council will hold their meetings at the center. If all goes as planned, the Planning Commission will meet their on June 15 and the City Council on June 29.

Once the construction phase is over, Doug Lemcke, director of Parks and Recreation, will be concentrating on promoting the use of the facility.

"The goal is to bring in $80,000 to $100,000 in revenue a year to offset operating costs," said Lemcke.

To get out word that the center can be rented for wedding receptions, anniversary and birthday parties and business seminars, the city will be posting a virtual tour on the city website.

Due to budget problems at City Hall, the city has scrapped plans to hire a full-time and part-time coordinators. Existing staff of Lemcke, Cara Butler, Cambria Pollinger and Traci Dayton-Farris will set up office in the center to help run programs.

Besides private rentals, the center will be the hub of community activities such as medical screenings, seminars and other events. The center also offers a senior lounge for games and TV screen as well as an upstairs teen room.

Tickets are on sale for the Saturday, June 27 "Red, White and Blue Gala" to celebrate the grand opening of the Community Center.

The evening attire event, to be held from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., is being sponsored by the Soroptimist International of Ceres, Ceres Rotary Club and Ceres Lions Club.

The evening will consist of a no-host cocktail hour, catered dinner, silent auction, dancing, and guided tours of the new center.

Tickets are $50 per person, or $600 for a sponsor table of eight person. A sponsor table provides preferred seating, special event recognition, champagne, and sponsor listing in the program.

The gala committee is accepting donations to offset the cost of the event, or to provide items for the silent auction. All proceeds earned above expenses will be donated to the non-profit Ceres Community Foundation for scholarships for children to attend the many recreational programs planned for the community facility.

Tickets may be purchased from club members and also at Bank of the West in Ceres or Strickler Real Estate. Those who would like to purchase a table or donate to the event, may call gala committee chair Bonnie White Silveria at 668-9367 or 568-7890.

The city is trying to generate funds by selling room-naming rights to businesses and corporations for $2 per square foot per year. The large assembly room could be named for $10,000 a year, estimated Lemcke.