Atwater makes fixes to damaged building; places ‘God’ on wall

The Atwater City Council unanimously agreed to pay $37,691 for repairs at the city’s Community Center this week.

The council voted during its regular meeting Monday to cover the cost of cleaning needed for the building after a vending machine caught fire in the hallway June 18.

The hallway, restrooms, offices and other rooms saw smoke damage from the flames, according to city records.

City staff awarded a contract to Service Master cleaning company through an “urgency purchase” policy, which allows the city to make the award without bidding for services.

The city plans to ask for bids for the construction needed to restore the other damage to the building in the coming months, according to city staff.

During the same meeting, the council unanimously approved a plan to place an “In God We Trust” sign on the wall of the council chambers.

Several members of the public agreed to pick up the tab for the roughly $300 sign, which is a red circle drawn around an American flag with the words wrapped around the top.

The decision comes after the council received a letter, according to city records, from Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute, a nonprofit legal defense group. In the letter, the group promised to defend the city at no cost if it faces legal opposition of the sign.