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Council has eye on approaching Ceres Centennial celebration
city 1918
One of the first city documents officiated the first Ceres CIty Council election ihn 1918. - photo by Courtesy of the city of Ceres

Ceres was founded as a town in the 1870s but incorporation as a city wouldn't occur until Feb. 25, 1918. Anticipating a centennial celebration in two years, the Ceres City Council last week decided to assemble a celebration committee.

"We're starting to get requests from citizens with interest in a centennial celebration and offered donations and other things," said Mayor Chris Vierra.

The city would like to hear from persons who would be willing to sit on a committee to brainstorm ideas for a celebration in 2018. The mayor said the city also wants to see if service clubs will also participate in some way.

"We don't know how big the interest will be," he added.

Vierra believes a 20-member committee would be nice.

Ceres resident Leonard Shepherd, who is a fixture at council meetings, suggested it would be nice councilmembers wore attire worn in the 1910s. "I think you would all look dashing in the period costumes," said Shepherd. That prompted Councilmember Linda Ryno to laughingly suggest "That's a great idea for the guys but not for me and the corset."

"We have plenty of time - it's not like it's anything that's got to be done right away."

The city organized in the Fourth Street insurance office of Clinton Whitmore and the first council consisted of a board of trustees occupied by S.W. Cartright, who technically was the first mayor, and councilmembers Vaughn D. Whitmore, C.H. Sikes, J.U. Gartin and C.T. Haynes. The first order of business at the very first meeting of March 4, 1918, after selecting a mayor, was setting meetings on the second Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Nearly a century later, council meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6 p.m.

The city's first employees, consisting of a clerk, treasurer and city marshal, were paid just $2,000 per year.

Council notices were posted in three places - none of which exist today. They were at Gartin's Ceres Lumber Yard, the Whitmore insurance office and the George F. Wood store.

The first city clerk was J.A. Wagener, the school superintendent, who was known as a strict disciplinarian who took whipped school children who got out of line. Wagener lived in the castle like structure just north of the Ceres Community Center parking lot.

Ceres had a town celebration in 1968 marking the 50th anniversary of city incorporation. It included historical displays such as the case belonging to Allura Ulch that housed the first library in Ceres in 1910 and the desk which was Ceres' first post office set up by Daniel Whitmore in his home shortly after he laid the town out in 1870. He served as the first postmaster for 19 years.