George could not find any and the center was closed. A short while later the IVROP SOS program started looking for a place in Calipatria for a recreation center.
The council decided to lease the program the former recreation building while the former police station was renovated for the SOS program.
Efrain Silva, local project director for SOS, said the rec center is funded by a U.S. Department of Labor Youth Opportunity Grant. The SOS program is administering the grant.
The grant was awarded in March 2000. Funding for the center has been approved through June 2003, after which Congress will have to re-authorize funding.
The Calipatria Police Department has moved into a former Imperial Irrigation District building.
The recreation center has been open for about two weeks. It is open from 1 to 10 p.m Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays.
Sylvia Castañeda, recreation center coordinator, said, "I hope to see everybody here. We want to show the community they are responsible youth and they can be proud and not destructive."
She said it is important to show such positive images of young people, "especially in a small community."
She said so far the center has had visits from 10 to 15 youths per day.
The IVROP SOS program here will offer basketball, football, archery, guitar lessons, drawing and floral arrangement classes and other activities.
The center will have new exercise equipment, a foosball table, a pool table, a pingpong table, satellite television and computers with Internet access.
Castañeda said the name for the center will be revealed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Silva said a Niland recreation center is in the works. The SOS program has new offices in Niland that are in the process of being staffed.
He said the old elementary school cafeteria will house the Niland recreation center. It could open in May and will be funded through the same grant as the Calipatria center, Silva said.
"I'm very pleased with the impact our services have provided to the community. We have seen complete evidence of how providing youngsters with a full spectrum of services really makes an impact in their life.
"The program has been successful because of the dedicated staff we have working for us," said Silva.
Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 370-8549.