Those tracking the progress of the new Columbus Police Department and Columbus Fire Department have been seeing a great deal of change occurring over the course of the past several months.

While inclement weather and side-effects from the March flooding slowed down progress, both facilities are starting to take real shape, revealing a glimpse of what the final products will resemble.

On Friday, Aug. 2, a hundreds-year-old tradition is taking place downtown at the new police building at the northwest corner of 21st Avenue and 14th Street where the Freemasons of Nebraska are preparing to dedicate cornerstone pieces for both the police and fire stations.

The ceremony will be nearly identical to the one performed by America’s first president and Freemason George Washington when he laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 18, 1793, according to released information. A newspaper of that day said Washington placed an inscribed silver plate under the cornerstone. It is not known, however, whether the stone was at a corner of the Senate wing or the corner of the whole building. More than two centuries later, the Architect of the Capitol is still searching for the stone, and metal detectors have failed to locate the silver plate.

The two stones for the Columbus buildings were purchased and inscribed by Lebanon Lodge 323 of Columbus, and the dedication ceremony will be conducted by the Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Nebraska, according to released information. Robert W. Moninger of Burwell is the Grand Master of Freemasons in Nebraska. He is a dual member of Hickman Lodge No. 256 in Lincoln and Blazing Star Lodge No. 200 in Burwell.

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The Columbus dedication ceremony is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Each cornerstone will conceal steel capsules which will contain information about the fire and police stations and will include histories of the departments, photographs, and other mementos of the departments, past and present, according to released information.

Since Freemasonry is an outgrowth of the masonic guilds that were the builders of cathedrals and other public buildings in the Middle Ages, the Masonic cornerstone is checked using the ancient working tools. The stone to this day is checked using the square, plumb and level – all of which those in attendance will have the opportunity to view. The stone will then be consecrated with corn, wine and oil which are Masonic symbols of prosperity, health and peace. It will then be symbolically tapped into place with a gavel.

The oldest known document of Freemason rules, the Regius Manuscript, was written in 1390. It covers standards of workmanship, rules for membership and morals and is essentially the structure for governing today’s Masonic lodges. The oldest lodge of actual working stone masons is believed to be Kilwinning Lodge in Scotland dating back to 1140. However, today’s “speculative” Masons (not actual stone masons) believe modern Freemasonry began with the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, according to released information.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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