Thursday, 02 February 2023

Construction officially begins on Clearlake Oaks community center

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Church member Ginger Frank (foreground) and District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing dig in their shovels during the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the planned Thornton-Canady Community Center in Clearlake Oaks on Thursday. Several church and community members took turns at the shovel as part of the official beginning of construction for the center, which will be available to the entire community. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



CLEARLAKE OAKS – A small, heartfelt ceremony on Thursday afternoon broke ground on a new community center that will offer services to young and old alike.


Members of Clearlake Oaks Community United Methodist Church, Supervisor Denise Rushing, county Deputy Redevelopment Eric Seely and other community residents gathered for the 1 p.m. ceremony, held at The Plaza at the site of the planned Thornton-Canady Community Center.


Church member Ginger Frank said the 4,350-square-foot, one-story building will feature a 400 square foot reading room which will also be used for senior day care; a 2700 square foot recreation room where teens and children can play basketball and badminton, and where community meetings and other special events can be held.


The center is named for the church's late pastor, Bill Thornton, and his wife, Associate Pastor Ruth Canady.


The Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, the church's senior pastor, led the ceremony, which included blessings and prayers for the property and its future purposes. Schlosser asked Canady to be the first to take a shovel and turn the soil at the site of the planned center.


“When we first came here, Bill had a vision,” said Canady.


Thornton and Canady worked with the church for years to help set changes in motion in Clearlake Oaks, which was acknowledged during the brief ceremony.


County Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, who couldn't make the groundbreaking, sent along a letter with Rushing expressing his sincere appreciation to all those involved in the project.


“This facility, along with the reconstruction of The Plaza and the new Nylander Park, will make Clearlake Oaks a model for other communities in Lake County,” Cox wrote.


None of Clearlake Oaks' projects would have been possible without community involvement and support, said Cox, who credited the church and its members for helping make the community's dreams become realities.


“The renaissance that Clearlake Oaks is undergoing is a direct result of this community's resolve,” Cox wrote.


Cox said he was confident that Pastor Thornton “is looking down upon those gathered at The Plaza today with a smile on his face.”


Rushing added, “I am continually awed by the power of the heart and – when people decide to come together – what is possible.”


Seely added that Clearlake Oaks' community members are “building on each others' successes.”


Schlosser said the church family is dedicated to making the community better. He credited Canady for her guidance in teaching about the power of a small group of people who are willing to open their hearts.


He added that he hopes the center will be a place of welcome to everyone.


Church and community members shared how the power of teamwork and prayer had made a difference in Clearlake Oaks.


“I see such a fresh breeze blowing into this town,” said Steve Alden, the former chair of the church's building committee.


Ken Young, a Clearlake Oaks resident and a staffer at the Community Care HIV/AIDS Project-Drop In Center, said when he and his wife moved to the town seven years ago, it was a very different place. Meth labs were all over the Oaks then, he said.


“There's physical evidence that things are changing,” said Young.


Frank said construction on the building began last week. The ground where the building will sit had been raised and leveled with fill. Trenching for the slab and retaining walls scheduled to start after Christmas, Frank said.


The steel building cost $149,000, and came in pieces which need to be assembled, a process which will start in January, said Frank.


The finish work on the building's inside will be completed with volunteer labor.


Schlosser estimated that the total cost of the building and assembling its shell will reach $175,000, funds which the church accumulated through fundraisers and a loan from the California Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church.


Eventually, the goal is to include a commercial kitchen in the building, said Frank, which is likely to raise the total construction cost to about $300,000.


Anyone interested in donating time or money to the effort is encouraged to call church treasurer Margaret Medeiros at 998-9563; or Associate Pastor Ruth Canady, 928-4453.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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