This is an important weekend in the lives of many in the Central Valley and foothills.
Earlier this year, four boxes weighing more than 100 pounds each were shipped to the Mariposa County Fire Department from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Inside each box was a sizable section of a steel I-beam that had once been part of New York City's World Trade Center. Now these twisted, rusted beams represent that fateful day in America's history: Sept. 11, 2001.
Fire Chief Jim Wilson jumped at the chance to receive the artifacts when pieces were released to law enforcement agencies, fire departments, nonprofit organizations and communities in memory of those who lost their lives in the tragic event.
The sections symbolize the four groups who were affected that day: law enforcement, fire service, military and civilians.
Donna Brownell, director of the Mariposa County Arts Council, immediately put out a call to local artists, soliciting designs for a memorial to be built in town. The chosen rendition was submitted by Judith Barton, an artist from Merced. In collaboration with the artist, Fire Captain Dennis Buck welded the four I-beams together in what appears to be a jumbled configuration, reminiscent of the disaster's wreckage.
Wilson said, "However, the angles are anything but random. Each angle builds on the other at 9, 11, 20 and 01 degrees. When viewed from above, two of the artifacts are welded at 17 degrees to match the number of elapsed minutes between the airplane impacts on the twin towers. The balance of the arc is 343 degrees, matching the number of FDNY firefighters who lost their lives."
The memorial will be built with private and donated funds, to be completed sometime in the near future at the Arts Park.
Tomorrow, the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, a commemoration ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. at the Arts Park on the corner of Highway 140 and Fourth Street in Mariposa. The public is invited to join the Memorial Committee for this occasion.
DEDICATION OF NEW CHURCH
In 1998, Pastor John Trujillo and members of Mariposa's First Baptist Church began praying and looking for a piece of property on which to build a new facility for its sanctuary, school and various ministries, with ample room for administrative offices, parsonage/
missionary housing, a large kitchen and fellowship hall, plus a gymnasium. Locating a suitable piece of land wasn't nearly as hard as wading through county and state regulations in order to secure a building permit.
Tom and Roberta Standen, church members and local business owners, sold their real estate company, giving Roberta the necessary time to serve as building project coordinator. In an eight-page document she recently wrote for the church historian, listed are 25 miracles she believes took place during the initial six-year period, before construction could even begin.
From 1998 to 2004 the congregation of less than 200 was able to pay in full the price of the property. Working with Daniel Cook & Associates Architects and using the stewardship program Building God's Way, once the permit was secured, construction took seven years, as church and community members who supported the project joined together to raise the new building. With a sanctuary seating more than 500, it is the largest facility of its kind in Mariposa County. Overcoming a number of unexpected hurdles, including construction costs skyrocketing following Hurricane Katrina, the $1.5 million project ended up costing close to $4 million. Folks with construction skills rallied together to do much of the work. Today the building is almost completely debt-free.
Just weeks ago when Pastor Trujillo finally held the certificate of occupancy permit, tears filled his eyes.
A special dedication service will be held Sunday. For details of service times and photos, visit First Baptist Church of Mariposa on Facebook.
Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.