It's official. With the synchronized sniping of 34 pairs of goldplated scissors the new Fairfax County South County Government Center was ceremoniously dedicated last Saturday morning.
With a crowd of more than 100 citizens, state, county, and local officials, and various agency employees looking on, an array of dignitaries, who had been instrumental in bringing the new five story edifice into existence, lined up to cut the red ribbon spanning the main entrance.
As the line formed behind the ribbon, Mount Vernon District Supervisor and Vice Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, Gerald W. Hyland, said, "I can see nothing but positives for the persons who will come here for services.
"I have felt a great pride and joy to have this building here and with all the people that made this happen. We have people who see a need and act on it."
KICKING OFF THE ribbon cutting ceremonies was Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman who noted, "This Center is just what the redevelopment doctor ordered. But, the ultimate test for this Center is two-fold. One, does it serve the people and two, is it an integral part of the community?
"When teenagers can use it to enjoy life. When mothers and seniors can depend on it to obtain the services they need. When the building passes those tests, it will be a part of Route 1 and the County will benefit."
Kauffman, who will have a satellite office in the five story structure, expressed his gratitude that the long awaited pedestrian activated crosswalk signals had been installed before the official opening. The signals enable those walking to the new Center to traverse Route 1 without dodging the endless flow of traffic.
In offering the invocation, Reverend Keary Kincannon, Rising Hope Mission Church, located just south of the government complex, said, "The opening of the South County Center is not a panacea - the completion of this marvelous building is not the end of our mission but only the beginning.
"May every person who walks through these doors know we have committed ourselves to the rights and dignity of all persons.
"May this building be a symbol of hope for all in our community. May this building bring us together in the unity of spirit, the bond of peace, and the mission to serve others."
THESE THOUGHTS WERE echoed by Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Katherine K. Hanley. "This symbolizes the spirit of public and private cooperation ... and so many goals come true," Hanley said.
The 135,000-square-foot Center, located at 8350 Richmond Highway, will house a myriad of county services previously spread throughout the southern sector of Fairfax County. It will also be home to an innovative service known as ACCESS FAIRFAX, enabling citizens to access government services via the Internet, a kiosk, or interactive voice response telephone system, at no charge.
Financed entirely by Madison Development Partners of Alexandria, Fairfax County will lease the building for 30 years at a fixed fee of $2 million per year. At the conclusion of the lease the county will take ownership.
"This is a prime example of the county's commitment to revitalization and of business and government working together. On behalf of all the citizens and businesses, thank you for all your efforts," said Laurie Blackburn, Chairman, Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce.
SERVICES AND FUNCTIONS within the Center, in addition to ACCESS FAIRFAX, are Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court satellite office, Mount Vernon Adult Day Care Center, Adult and Aging Family Services, Mount Vernon District Health Department, Hideaway Teen Center, Groveton Senior Center, Community Health Care Network.
Also within the Center is Anger and Domestic Abuse Prevention and Treatment, Job Source/Business Center, Family Service Self Sufficiency, Office for Children, Youth and Family Health Services, Children, Youth and Family Division, Systems Management and Administration for Human Services, Victims Assistance Network, Alcohol and Drug Youth Services, Community Service Board Prevention Services, Healthy Families, and Housing and Community Development.
On the second floor is the Mount Vernon-Lee Conference Center, a meeting area available to community groups as well as county agencies. It can be configured as one large room or as many as six individual meeting rooms. When divided the rooms can accommodate from 20 to 70 persons each. Combined it can seat up to 135 people.
IN CLOSING THE hour long ceremony, Hyland noted, "Dana and I have always shared a common vision to serve the people in this part of the county as best we can. We are privileged to represent persons
such as yourselves who were able to make this happen."
Also participating in the hour long ceremony were the Mount Vernon Community Band and the Mount Vernon High School, Marine Corps Junior ROTC. Following the dedication, there was a reception on the first floor and public tours of the facility conducted by county staff.