One hundred years and a day after the Feb. 25, 1918 incorporation of the city of Ceres, current city officials and community paused to look back during a Monday evening gathering at the Ceres Community Center attended by former council members, mayors and city staff - some who came dressed up in assorted period costume.
The council gathered around a celebratory cake, mirroring a tradition set in 1968 when city officials Gene Robirds, Claude McKnight, Guy Whorton, Walter White and others cut one for a photo.
Sal Cannella, who was mayor from 1980 to 1983, represented the earliest serving official still living. Once Cannella left the council he served in the California State Assembly. When he was defeated for the state Senate in 1998, Cannella went to work for the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which he retired from last year.
"Now I'm just traveling and enjoying life while I'm still healthy enough to do it," said Cannella.
He remembers getting involved in city politics to fight a low-income apartment complex. Cannella also remembers how the city had to deal with the low of revenue at the passage of Prop. 13, the Jarvis-Gann Initiative. Serving with him at the time were Jim Delhart, Brian Carlin, John Eberle and Steve Wright.
"This brings back a lot of memories," said Cannella who was poring over a display of photos displayed from his council years. Pointing to a council photo that featured him sporting a perm, Cannella laughed and said "I look like a girl there. The shadow behind it makes me look like I have long hair."
Brian Carlin, who was mayor from 1983 to 1985, also attended. A retired plumber living in Modesto, Carlin is still involved as a member of the Ceres Memorial Park board of directors.
Stan Risen, who spent over 11 years on the Ceres City Council and recently retired as the Stanislaus County chief executive officer, dropped by. He was able to visit with others who served with him, including Andy Constantinou, Blair Bradley and Paul Caruso.
Former City Engineer Joe Hollstein, now a resident of Lake Tahoe, dropped by to see who he could recognize after hearing about celebration while in the area. Hollstein said he noticed the new downtown revitalization effort, mentioning prior attempts to give it a facelift when he was in charge during his 28 years with the city. Hollstein, who retired in 2011, also had a chance to see the landscaping for the Whitmore interchange which he was instrumental in construction. Hollstein commented that he is pleased the city is pursuing a diverging diamond concept for the Service Road interchange, saying there is one in Reno and commenting "it works surprisingly well."
Missing from the celebration were living former mayors Gary Condit (who served 1974-76), Jim Delhart (1985-87), Richard McBride (1990-94), Barbara Hinton (1993-97), Louie Arrollo (1987-90 and 1999-2001), Leo Havener (1997-98), DeLinda Moore (2003-05) and Anthony Cannella (2005-10).
The gathering moved into the Ceres City Council which was devoid of any real business to focus on Ceres' 100 years existence as a city. Pastor Adrian Condit of Village Chapel Free-Will Baptist Church delivered the invocation and said "God has been good to the city and all of us." He thanked God for his favor on the city over the past 100 years and for those who served in various capacities.
Honored at the event were members of the Ceres Centennial Committee. Present were Paul and Sharon Caruso, Laura Akin, Lee and Sheila Brandt, Lisa Mantarro Moore, Sheryl Trout, Couper Condit, and Keith and Brandy Meyer.
City Manager Toby Wells read a proclamation from Gov. Jerry Brown issuing congratulations to Ceres for its 100 years. A proclamation also came in from state Senator Anthony Cannella and state Assemblyman Adam Gray, as presented by Lisa Mantarro Moore, also a former City Council member.
"There's a lot of history in this room," commented Moore on the assemblage of former city officials. She served on the council from 2001 to 2005 and two years as vice mayor.
Stan Risen rose to present a commendation by the Board of Supervisors.
Each former city official present was invited to come up and review their years of service.
Eric Ingwerson said he spent about 17-½ years serving the city on the Planning Commission and City Council, in addition to four on the Ceres Unified School District board.
"It was a great honor serving in here and it's great to be back and celebrate our 100th year as a city," said Ingwerson.
Risen said he served on the Planning Commission from 1986 to 1990 and the Council from 1990 to 2001. He said because he was "an Air Force brat and my folks moved every three years." By the time he came to Ceres he had attended nine different schools and he wanted a place to call home. "I'm proud to say I've been a Ceres resident now for 40 years and am very proud of this community," said Risen.
Caruso said he has been in the area since 1961 and moved to Ceres in 1987, the year he was elected to the council. He served until 1991 when he was elected to the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.
"I can't think of a better place to live, really," said Caruso.
Blair Bradley said he got involved in city government as a member of the Substance Abuse Prevention Committee and Parks and Recreation Committee, and then Planning Commission. He served two terms on the City Council and was surprised at city staff expertise and the complexities of government.
"I did not know as a councilman that we had to serve on like 45 subcommittees," said Bradley. "I lost track of time with my family but it all worked out." He told the council that "I still feel sympathy for you but I will never join you again."
Carlin said he served 14 years on the City Council and mayor.
Andy Constantinou said his family moved to Ceres in the 1970s and served six years on the council.
The event was the first of many celebrations planned to mark the centennial this year. A "Taste of Ceres Gala" dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday March 23 at the Ceres Community Center. The centennial will also be featured during the May 5-6 Street Faire, at the summer Concerts in the Park series and at the Halloween Festival and Christmas Festival in 2018.
The centennial committee will be issuing a commemorative collector coin, shirts, wine glasses, baseball caps and sweatshirts.
The committee is attempting to raise approximately $15,000 to build a Centennial Plaza feature on Fourth Street near the Community Center. Chad Kennedy of O'Dell Engineering voluntarily drew up a design for a feature at the corner of Fourth Street and Magnolia.
The centennial will mark the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Ceres although Ceres itself traces its founding back to 1869. The first recorded map of the town of Ceres was filed Feb. 20, 1875. Ceres was incorporated as a city on March 4, 1918 and serving as the first mayor was S.W. Cartwright who served only a month and nine days until the first city election was held on April 8, 1918. Vaughn D. Whitmore beat out Cartwright by a single vote to become Ceres' first elected mayor with 28 votes. Besides Whitmore and Cartwright, elected to the first City Council were C.T. Haynes, J.U. Gartin and C.H. Sikes.
Sponsorships are payable to the Ceres Community Foundation (for tax deductions), and may be directed to the Ceres Centennial Celebration, c/o City of Ceres, 2720 Second Street, Ceres CA 95307. To pay by phone or for more information, call 409-2676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org