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Cars lined street curbs and filled nearby parking lots as hundreds of people flocked to the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the city of Ceres' long-awaited new community center at 2701 Fourth Street on Tuesday, June 16.

Mayor Anthony Cannella, fellow councilmembers Chris Vierra, Ken Lane, Guillermo Ochoa and Bret Durossette, Ceres Unified School District Board Trustees Teresa Guerrero, Eric Ingwerson, Faye Lane, Jim Kinard and Betty Davis, Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim DeMartini, and representatives for California State Senator Jeff Denham and Assemblyman Bill Berryhill attended the historical event.

"It's like no other community center I've seen in this area," Cannella said. "This is a very good investment and it's going to pay dividends in the future. It's our hope this will be the catalyst to help with the redevelopment of downtown Ceres."

The $6.8 million community center covers 25,623 square feet.

"This is a very unique building," said Recreation Director Doug Lemcke, who attended 80 construction meetings within a span of 18 months before the completion of the project. "It's two story. It has a security-camera system. Three cameras outside and nine inside. It's also got great acoustics. This is going to generate thousands of people a week to downtown Ceres."

Ochoa rented both assembly rooms at the Ceres Community Center for his parents' 50th wedding anniversary on June 6. About 450 family members and guests were in attendance. Four bands performed.

"This is A-plus," he said. "No doubt about it. It's very elegant."

Ceres Shock competitive girls basketball player Janae Jackson, 12, toured the new community center with her mother.

"I like it," she said. "It's cool."

Added Lemcke: "I'm proud of the comments I'm getting from the community."

The 17-room center's main features are:

• A large assembly room of 5,131 square feet that will be able to handle receptions, community gatherings, social affairs;

• A smaller assembly hall of 3,354 square feet with seating for 180 people; a second partition can split the room in half for dual use at the same time;

• A conference room that can seat 16 comfortably;

• City recreational staff offices;

• 12-station computer lab of 746 square feet for community use with internet access;

• Senior citizens drop-in room of 754 square feet where socializing and games can be played;

On the second floor is:

• A meeting room which could serve as a classroom with modular desks;

• A teen activity room, designed by the Ceres Youth Commission, where students can socialize and study.

• Recreational room with maple hardwood floors that will serve as a place to do instructional fitness such as yoga, pilates and gymnastics;

• Arts and crafts room with tile floors and washable walls where kids and adults can learn art mediums such as clay, acrylic, watercolor and oil painting. Lemcke envisions sewing classes and macramé classes being offered in the room.

Izabella Duran-Soriano, 7, and other members of the Steps Dance Art Center performed inside the second-story, recreational room as part of the grand-opening festivities.

"The last two weeks, we've had reservations for weddings and quinceaneras," Lemcke said. "There's really something for everyone in this community center."

Jeff Benziger contributed to this article.