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TID opens million dollar digs
Turlock Irrigation District has returned to downtown Ceres.

Last week the district had a soft opening for its $1 million office at 2944 Third Street, which was the site of the former Chew 'N Chat restaurant. For about the last five years the needs of TID customers were served at a rented office space in the Richland Shopping Center. Those customers were told about services being switched over to the new office as of Monday, Oct. 19.

"Ceres has grown so much we felt we should we owe it to our customers to have an office there to provide all the services," said Steve Boyd, TID's assistant general manager of Consumer Services. "Historically we have been in downtown. But when we checked there was nothing to rent in downtown."

TID officials learned that property on Third Street was available. The site was cleared after Silva's Family Restaurant burned to the ground. The building was originally the home of the Chew and Chat restaurant.

Ceres and TID have a historical connection. The first office that TID constructed was in downtown Ceres in 1905, a stone building office on Fourth Street. The building remains there today. Later TID constructed headquarters in Turlock.

Prior to the office at Richland Shopping Center, TID customers could pay their bills at a contract station at Ceres Drugs.

"The Ceres office gets a lot of business," said Boyd. "We have about 9,000 transactions per month."

Most of those transactions involved the payment of bills but also included starting electrical service and stopping service.

TID found that it needed a bigger facility. With the tiny lobby and two service windows, lines often ran out the door, said Boyd. TID also had concerns about the security of its customer service representatives. The new office features secured windows for employees who handle money. A gated parking lot in the back also offers protection to employees as they come and go.

"I think people will find it a very customer focussed lobby," said Boyd. "And we have the ability to grow and add more customer reps."

A conference room is located to the left of the entrance to the lobby for community meetings on projects relating to electrical and irrigation matters.

"Aesthetically we wanted to be a good neighbor. It looks great and we're glad to be in the neighborhood."

The city of Ceres tried to leverage TID's project in its downtown redevelopment plans and asked TID to consider a two-story structure. The district said no but designed the building with height to give the impression of a two-story building.

Manager Mary Jo Talbot is responsible for the operation of the Ceres office as well as the one in Patterson.

The new office is open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A ribbon cutting and open house is being coordinated with the Ceres Chamber of Commerce, said Boyd.