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A Place For Everyone And Everything In This Place

Special Report — Part 2

Fairfax County's new South County Center was designed with the people in mind.

That is how Kenneth P. Disselkoen, Fairfax County's Human Services Regional Manager, Region One, described the five story structure at the intersection of Route 1 and Mohawk Lane due to open by May 1. His assessment is particularly true for health offerings.

The County Health Department will provide a panoply of services ranging from a complete medical service that will include examining rooms, labs, therapy services, audiology and pharmacology. There will also be an Affordable Health Care Center.

"This is designed to serve those people who are employed but who do not have or have limited health insurance for whatever reason," Disselkoen noted. It also will offer the full range of services on site. These have been contracted out to a health provider vendor.

"The opportunity to bring all our human services together will benefit everyone. It makes an awful lot of sense in serving people," said Gerald Hyland, Mount Vernon District Supervisor and Vice Chairman, County Board of Supervisors.

"The construction of this building has added to our efforts to revitalize that section of Route 1. It is a major plus for both the Mount Vernon and Lee districts. That applies to both the county's bottom line and in providing services to our citizens," Hyland emphasized.

"Without using public funds or doing a bond issue, the county was able to take advantage of a good opportunity and freeze our lease costs for 30 years. And the additional space in the building will certainly be utilized over the years," he predicted. At the end of lease period Fairfax County will own the Center.

CENTRALIZED CHILD FAMILY SERVICES

One of the things of which Disselkoen was most proud was the fact that most of the programs which serve children were able to be concentrated on one floor. "This will enable the various staffs to work more closely together, hopefully, to the benefit of both the children and parents," he stressed.

With this in mind, a child care room was incorporated so that small children can play while their parents are consulting with staff. An innovative feature of this room is a blackboard installed under the windows, between the sill and the floor. Being at a small child's eye level it provides a useful diversion not requiring adult supervision.

Housed on the fourth floor are the Department of Family Services, Division of Children, Youth, and Family, Foster Care, and Mental Health Program for Children. One of the primary programs is the Self Sustaining Program.

"It is time limited to get families off welfare and become self sustaining," Disselkoen said.

On the fifth floor is the Healthy Family Program facilities. Here, assistance is offered to first time parents as well as helping families through teenage drug and alcohol abuse issues and offering prevention services.

The top floor also serves those programs which address Housing and Community Development. One entire side is devoted to personnel involved with home ownership, home inspection, Section Eight Public Housing issues, and other elements of community structuring.

A MEETING FACILITY AS WELL

But the South County Center is also intended to serve as a broad-based community facility as well as a governmental services headquarters. To accomplish this there are a variety of conference and meeting facilities enabling citizen groups to use the building throughout the day and into the evening.

On the second floor is a full fledged conference center with a large meeting room capable of seating 150 people. This is complimented by a series of break-out rooms, seating 25 to 50 people each, all with Fairfax County historical names such as Mount Vernon, Lorton, and Woodlawn.

Each room is fully equipped with audio-visual capabilities. The large room can be divided into three smaller rooms by the use of double paneled, folding, break walls.

"Two local homeowner associations have already booked space for their meetings right after we open," Disselkoen said. "And a group of parents involved with home schooling is planning to meet in the large conference room."

KEEPING HIGH TECH TALENT

Finally, there is the Job Service Center on the third floor with the full range of career services. "This is designed to keep the County's high tech work force and to make the county even more attractive to new high tech industries," Disselkoen explained.

Included in this area is a computer job search capability, computer classroom to enable people to improve their high tech skills, and a business center to bring together the business community and those seeking employment.

"Many highly skilled high tech professionals are now out of work due to cut backs. This is designed to help them and keep them in Fairfax County," he said.

Accessibility is the name of the game for the new center. With a parking lot capable of holding nearly 600 vehicles and 10 operators on duty, with broad based language skills, citizens living in the oldest portion of Fairfax County will benefit from its most modern and comprehensive addition.

"We have one phone number people can call, 703-222-0880, and get directed to the resource they are seeking. And our resource data base will be able to follow up and make sure callers have received the assistance they desired," Disselkoen proudly concluded.

Relocating the Juvenile Court to the Center, the progress on getting a new traffic signal, and how this new facility is being viewed by one of South Fairfax County's other primary service providers — United Christian Ministries — will be covered in the final installment of this series.