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Wait No More Community Celebrates Teen Center Opening
It's been a long haul but the Riverbank Teen Center is finally open.

It was cold outside on Saturday and the speeches for the ribbon cutting and formal opening were kept mercifully short.

Director of Parks and Recreation Sue Fitzpatrick, Mayor Virginia Madueno, City Manager Rich Holmer and Teen Committee leaders Gerrick Figueroa and Tristin Platt said a few words, cut the purple ribbon together, and the shivering crowd hurried inside to tour the facilities, eat cake, watch dancers and other demonstrations, and generally enjoy a party.

The white uniformed Karate for Kids members took over the shuffleboard table while other teens commandeered the computer terminals. Some youngsters headed for the lounge and its video games and others sought out the exercise room while the adults feasted on cake and coffee and talked.

While the Karate for Kids group could not entice many spectators to return to the cold and watch them perform outside, the Maddox Youth Center Break Dancers drew an admiring crowd within the building.

The Teen Center was due to formally open Tuesday, March 1, according to city Recreation Supervisor Kerrie Webb, with drop-in hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, with hours to be adjusted as needed. The age limits are 13 to 19 years. Recreation aides and volunteers will staff the center.

There is a proposal to charge a membership fee of $25 per year.

That was due to go before the Riverbank City Council for possible action on Monday, Feb. 28, past press time for The News, but would not apply until April 1 if approved.

Teens seeking to use the computer terminals and exercise room will have to get some training from staff before they are allowed on the expensive equipment, Webb noted.

Indigo, Hammond & Associates of Davis are the architects and Menghetti Construction of Modesto the general contractor for the $800,000 building located next to the Riverbank Community Center on Santa Fe Street. The design has innovative features such as straw bale walls encased in stucco, roll-up, metal garage style doors at the front and back, and exposed post and beam in the interior.

Financed initially with a state grant of $250,000, it was conceived in 2004 in talks between city officials, local teens and the architect but encountered several delays when the grant was frozen.

"This has been a project the community has worked on since 2004," said Madueno. "The youth and teens of the community worked together with the city and won a highly competitive state grant, participated in the design and raised the matching funds of $35,000. They continued to fundraise and with the help of local businesses were able to buy furnishings."

Among the leading contributors were Best Buy with $10,000, WestAmerica Bank with $5,000, Applebees with $3,000 and Donaldson Foundation with $2,500, she added.

Many other contributors, all recognized by bricks set in the floor at the entranceway, helped the project come together.