Men and women from throughout the state applauded grandly on Saturday from inside the Community Room to commemorate a historical occasion for the Columbus Community Building.
Mayor Jim Bulkley, Councilman Charlie Bahr, Police Chief Charles Sherer, Police Capt. Doug Molczyk, Sgt. Jaymee Levander, Fire Chief Ryan Gray and Assistant Fire Chief Nate Jones, along with many residents and visitors, watched as The Most Worship Grand Lodge of Nebraska and Lebanon Lodge No. 323 carried out the cornerstone laying ceremony.
Freemasons are the world's oldest fraternity of men who base themselves on the code of ethics of the buildings of King Solomon's temple, according to Grand Marshal Eric BenSalah. He and his fellow officials from throughout the state, ranging from Kimball, Omaha, Gretna and Lincoln, among many others,, were honored to conduct the ceremony for the voter-approved community building.
“I think it’s an absolutely beautiful building,” BenSalah said, noting the natural light and ample space. “I thought the ceremony went really well.”
The cornerstone ceremony tradition dates back to the 1700s. BenSalah said the Saturday ceremony stayed true to tradition and was very similar to the one done by the first U.S. president and Freemason George Washington, when he laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 18, 1793. Similar ceremonies were held for the new Columbus Police and Fire departments after they opened to the public a couple of years ago.
The Grand Master of Masons of Nebraska, Most Worshipful John L. Millington, walked everyone through proper procedure during the ceremony and then called on Mayor Bulkley to address all those in attendance. Bulkley said he had been looking forward to the ceremony following the public grand opening of the building on July 8th, noting how that event had gone very well.
“This then seals the deal. It’s official,” Bulkley said. “Here we are. The community has responded extremely well. We are very excited by what we have and the future this building will give to the generations to come.” [Watch the video of Mayor Bulkley's address during the ceremony on the City's YouTube channel by clicking here.]
The mayor cited all the work that went into the building, noting more than 150,000 man-hours, more than a million pounds of structural steel, more than a quarter-mile of library shelving, two elevators and three full stairways.
The City was invited to put a few artifacts inside as a time capsule. Items that were included were a Columbus Community Building Grand Opening pamphlet, City leaders’ business cards and a survey marker.
Bahr watched from the audience as the ceremony took place, crediting the organizers for making it happen once it was over. He left impressed.
“It was very nicely done,” Bahr said. “This was a good opportunity to stop in and see it. They did a really nice job.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley, right, shows off the Community Building cornerstone with members of The Most Worship Grand Lodge of Nebraska on July 22nd in the Community Room following the conclusion of the ceremony.)