City and State leadership joined the Masonic Grand Lodge of Oklahoma Saturday afternoon for the placement of a ceremonial cornerstone at the new Billie A. Hall Public Safety Center in Sand Springs.
The new Public Safety Center is still under construction, but will house police and fire operations and a municipal court. The $10.7 million facility is being funded by Vision 2025 taxes and is named in honor of a Sand Springs native and Vietnam War hero.
Masonic Cornerstone ceremonies have remained relatively unchanged over the past few hundred years, and Saturday’s event went through many of the same rituals that iconic buildings from the nation’s infancy have gone through. To add local flavor, the Charles Page High School drum line performed prior to the ceremony.
“In the early Middle Ages, the members of the fraternity were architects and builders of the great cathedrals, palaces, and public buildings,” said Grand Master MIke Dixon. “Today, freemasonry is entirely philosophical. Building with knowledge and ideas rather than stone and mortar. Teaching ethics, morality, and self development rather than the art of cutting stone. Yet the tradition of Masonic involvement in the dedication of public buildings remains as strong and vital today as in the middle ages.”
The fraternity held multiple prayers, asking God to bless the building and the individuals who will occupy it. The history of Masonry in the United States was reviewed, and the cornerstone was consecrated with corn, wine, and oil. The stone was judged with a square, level, and plumb, then multiple masons and local officials were invited to spread ceremonial concrete along the edges of the stone.
A time capsule will be sealed behind the stone, including a membership roster of the local lodge, other Masonic papers, ink pens, local business cards, a bible, a letter from Police Chief Mike Carter to future Chiefs of Police, a newspaper, coins from the current year, and more.
“I truly appreciate the Masons that showed up today,” said Mayor Jim Spoon. “I know a number of you traveled from a long distance. It’s a very impressive ceremony, I’ve never been to a ceremony like this before. We’re very very grateful.”
Congressman Kevin Hern, a Scottish Rite 32nd Degree Mason, also spoke at the event. “I’ve been in Washington D.C. about seven months now and you get to see the magnificent buildings that are there and that have been there for generations. Most all of them have had this experience at their time when they were built.”
“If you’re a voter and you voted for this, you’re a hero,” added State Representative Jadine Nollan.
“It was very important for us to name this facility for Billie A. Hall,” said Chief Carter. “He represents what we want our police officers and our firefighters to have as their core values - and that is service. There’s going to be a sign on the gate where our police officers will leave every day that will say “Always Serve” and “Never Give Up.” Both of those were embodied by Billie A. Hall and we’re so proud to honor him through this facility.”
“I truly think he should be given the Congressional Medal of Honor and I hope there’s a renewed effort to do that,” added Carter.