Masons lay cornerstone at Western Nebraska Community College

John Harms, Western Nebraska Community College interim-president, scoops cement before placing it along the bottom of the cornerstone. Some WNCC administrators, faculty and students were asked to participate in the ceremony Thursday, Oct. 24 in Scottsbluff.

The Masonic Grand Lodge of Nebraska placed a cornerstone during a ceremony Thursday, Oct. 24 at the Western Nebraska Community College main building.

College administration, students and the community were present to witness the ceremony as Grand Master Bob Moninger explained the significance of threes throughout the ceremony.

Three elements of corn, oil and water were poured over the cornerstone, representing plenty, joy and peace.

From the Masonic Grand Lodge of Nebraska’s ceremony, Moninger said, “I’d like the community to see masonry in a positive light.”

Ron Stites, deputy grand master, also hopes people understand the symbolism within the ceremony’s message as well as the ancient traditions.

The cornerstone laid at WNCC is significant as a typical cornerstone is laid in the northeast corner as the foundation is built. Before the cornerstone is placed on the west wall of the main building entrance to the welcome center, the college will place a time capsule behind it. Within the capsule there is a Nebraska Grand Lodge directory, grand master’s pin and a grand lodge pin. From WNCC, there is a Star-Herald grand re-opening insert, grand re-opening sketch signed by faculty, staff and students and a WNCC budget cube. From the Robert W. Furnas Lodge #265 AF & AM, there is a list of the 2019 lodge officers and an order of the Eastern Star Dome Rock Chapter #215 handbook.

“It is tucked in the crevice behind it,” Stites said. “There is a plastic, acrylic box that will be the time capsule.”

The construction crew will place the time capsule and cornerstone at a later date.

Masons poured corn, wine and oil over the cornerstone and checked the squareness of the cornerstone with a level and plumb.

The main building renovation was constructed over a two-year period at a cost of $18.5 million. Some of the additions to the building include: Platte Valley Companies Performing Arts Center, Judy Chaloupka Theater, Howard Olsen Student Success Center, a learning commons, Buddy’s Books, a bistro and the Coral E. Richards Boardroom.

Grand orator Mike Stuhr said, “The main building has served the community well over the last 50 years and the renovations will ensure that service continues well into the future.”

Within Stuhr’s oration, he cited WNCC interim-president John Harms’ thoughts on the renovation project.

Harms said, “Now, more than ever, Western Nebraska Community College is here to enrich and invigorate the communities we serve and we hope the transformation of the Scottsbluff main building campus building will serve to transform the lives of our students for years to come.”

First-year students Trinity Wolford and Deshon Hernandez attended Thursday’s ceremony and said they will remember the honor they felt during the ceremony.

“I just enjoyed the Grand Lodge here to be able to honor the renovation and WNCC in general,” Hernandez said.

As they reflect on the ceremony, Wolford said she will remember the laying of the corn, wine and oil.

As a student, she said the center layout of the addition is great.

“I like the design. I like how it’s laid out and how easy it is to move through,” Wolford said.

Hernandez added, “Everything is all in one place. The library is there, the student center. Everything is there, so you don’t have to go all over the place.”

Following the ceremony, the community was invited to attend the college’s business after hours event where they were able to tour the renovated space.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at

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