The long-awaited transformation of Del Hale Hall in Dos Palos is finally getting underway. Last Wednesday afternoon, state and local leaders gathered for the groundbreaking of the facility, which is just outside the city limits and operated by Merced County. The big project will not only include a major renovation of Del Hale Hall, which has been operated by the Dos Palos Lions Club since the early 1990s, but also a brand new county library which will be attached to the hall. Merced County District 5 supervisor Scott Silveira, who represents Dos Palos and the Westside, welcomed the gathering for the ground-breaking. “Through the state budget process, Senator Anna Caballero was able to secure a $3 million set aside to be used in the much-needed rehabilitation of Del Hale Community Center,” said Silveira. “I want to thank the senator for her commitment to the residents of Merced County. Securing funding is not easy, but thanks to our strong partnership, we continue to make good things happen.” He added that the renovation was complimented by a separate $2.7 million grant Merced County secured through the California State Library’s “Building Forward Library Improvement Grant Program” for the new Dos Palos branch of the Merced County Library System. Caballero said that she was thrilled to be in Dos Palos to see the big project moving forward. “This is a great celebration,” said Caballero. “We worked as a team to make this happen, and now it’s time to move some dirt.” The Senator acknowledged new State Assembly Member Esmeralda Soria, who was also in attendance, for her assistance, as well as former Assembly Member Adam Gray, who was also present. “I also want to acknowledge Mayor April Hogue, who has been persistent in making sure Dos Palos receives all the funding it can for their projects,” said Soria. Merced County Head Librarian Amy Taylor told the gathering that Dos Palos’s original library was built in 1910. “The library was actually inside a bakery,” Taylor remarked. “It had 95 books. Currently, the Dos Palos library has 12,000 books with access to another two million books. This new library means that Dos Palos will be looking to the future.” Noting that Merced County is also in the process of making upgrades to O’Banion Park, Silveira said that once all the projects are completed, “this location will become a focal point of the community where families can come to learn and play. The residents in and around Dos Palos deserve this upgrade, and I would like to again say ‘thank you’ to everyone who made this possible. We look forward to its completion.” That ‘completion’ will take anywhere from one year to 18 months, according to Silveira.

David Borboa