COLUMBUS - Friday afternoon saw a centuries-old ceremony performed in Columbus to dedicate the new police and fire stations.

The two stones for the buildings were purchased and inscribed by Lebanon Lodge 323 of Columbus, and the ceremony was conducted by the Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Nebraska. Former Grand Master of the Grand Lodge Philip Lorenzen spoke to attendees about the historical significance and tradition behind the cornerstone.

"In ancient times, buildings were plumed, squared, and leveled by stone masons, " Lorenzen said. "A cornerstone was the starting point for every edifice, and if not set perfectly, the quality of the entire structure would be flawed and imperfect, and would not serve a long and useful life. Since a cornerstone is perfectly hewn, it is symbolic of the quality of these facilities, and the level of service they and their leaders will provide throughout the years of usage of these facilities."

Each cornerstone also concealed steel capsules, which contained mementos from each department. Police Chief Chuck Sherer says the CPD's capsule included historical records of the department, patches, business cards, badges, and other memorabilia. Fire Chief Dan Miller said the CFD's capsule contained photographs of the current firefighters and VFD members, as well as rosters and badges of personnel.

Mayor Jim Bulkley spoke at the ceremony, and discussed how the two facilities showcase the dedication that both the City of Columbus and residents how towards high-quality public safety.

"This is a reality because we presented it to the people, we put it to a vote of the people, and it passed overwhelmingly, and I think in Columbus we can be proud of what we get from the police and fire departments, they are among the best anywhere you could want," Bulkley said. "This is a facility to let them work in an environment that they deserve, and I think that everybody in the community would expect that, and welcome that."

Both the new police and fire stations are still under construction, but both projects are on track to be finished by the end of the year.