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Calexico dedicates buildings in honor of Luna, Rodriquez

February 03, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Saturday was about remembering those who gave selflessly to their community as the City Council here dedicated local facilities in the names of the late Horacio "Horace" U. Luna and Jose B. Rodriquez.

Crystalline blue skies and a warm winter sun provided a picturesque backdrop for the rededication of the newly rebuilt Horacio Luna Gun Club on Anza Road and the dedication of the Jose B. Rodriquez Community Center Complex and the nearby community day-care center, both on Dool Avenue.

As part of a community building project, the Calexico Redevelopment Agency — presided over by the Calexico City Council — paid for the construction of the gun club, the day-care center and restrooms at Cortez Park. All three projects were bid together at a cost of $1.3 million.

The gun club, which had been dedicated to Luna several years ago, was condemned and had to be torn down around 1998.

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With members of Luna's family present as well as the leadership of the local Juarez Lincoln Club, which will manage the site, Calexico council members spoke about Luna's contributions to the community.

"Horacio dedicated his life to his family. Family was No. 1," City Councilman Victor Carrillo said. "His second family was the community. He embraced Calexico. There was never a person turned away by Horacio."

Luna, who died in 1991, was a member of various city commissions, including the Calexico Recreation Commission.

Active in sports programs for Calexico youth, Carrillo said Luna sponsored Little League teams and assisted players with registration fees.

Carrillo said Luna was a proponent of "not only developing the mind, but fitness of body."

Councilman Gilbert Grijalva said of the rebuilt gun club: "Now it's something worth having his name on.

"Horace was a guy who always had a big smile on his face and a laugh that was unforgettable," Grijalva added.

Horacio's son, Mark Luna of Calexico, expressed his family's gratitude for such a fitting memorial.

Cesar Luna of Calexico said, "I just think it's a tribute to my brother and his being involved in the community. He's just the type of person who deserves this."

While the firing range of the Horacio Luna Gun Club will not be open to the public, the club house will serve as headquarters for the Juarez Lincoln Club, of which Luna was a member, and as a community gathering point available for parties and events.

Said Juarez Lincoln president Danny Buelna: "It's beautiful. … Horacio did a lot for the community."

Buelna added the council was generous to take on the construction.

Initially, Buelna and other members of the club asked that the city provide the materials and that club members build the facility. However, the council decided to build the project out right.

Around 3,000 square feet in size, the club cost about $600,000 in Redevelopment Agency funds.

Less than an hour after the gun club ceremony, the council and members of the community reconvened at the Calexico Community Center on Dool Avenue to unveil a plaque renaming the facility the Jose B. Rodriquez Community Center Complex.

An assistant postmaster with the Post Office in Calexico, Rodriquez was active in a number of community organizations and programs aimed at youth. He had served as past president of the Calexico High School parents' and teachers' association and worked with the local chapters of the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. He died in 1997.

Calexico council member Frank O. Montoya said his relationship with Rodriquez dated to their days in the Calexico Elks Lodge, where "we would work hand-in-hand in doing things for our community."

He added of Rodriquez, "He was one of the most intelligent men I've ever known … I've learned a lot from him."

The day's final dedication of a day-care center to be leased and operated by Campesinos Unidos Inc. provided a chance for city officials to express their intent to continue to build structures that will benefit the community.

"This is a reflection of the new philosophy of the City Council and the Redevelopment Agency," Calexico Mayor Javier Alatorre said.

Grijalva added government can't and shouldn't be expected to do everything for people. However, he said this is a fine example of what city government can do to improve the quality of life.

"This facility is beautiful. It will be a jewel to the community," he added.

Jose Lopez of Campesinos Unidos said projects such as the day-care center are the types of projects the community wants to see completed.

The new facility, which has yet to receive an official name, will house some 80 kids. Campesinos Unidos presently runs its day-care center from an old house near a trucking yard and the city maintenance shop.

The city Redevelopment Agency is also funding the renovation of the Women's Improvement Club and Carnegie Library, both near the corner of Heber Avenue and Fifth Street.

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.

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