A self-proclaimed tree hugger now has his very own shade giver right outside his soon-to-be-occupied office at the new Mount Vernon Government Center.
On Tuesday morning the Virginia Association of Counties [VACo] dedicated a newly planted magnolia tree with accompanying plaque to their 2001-02 president, Mount Vernon District supervisor and vice chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Gerald W. Hyland (D).
Hyland finished his one-year term as VACo's president last week, according to James D. Campbell, CAE, executive director. "Coming up with something fitting for Gerry was challenging. But we knew he likes flowers and trees," Campbell explained.
In accepting the gift, Hyland acknowledged, "I am a tree hugger, and I love to plant trees. This tree represents all that is wonderful about Mount Vernon."
He also admitted that the day held a bag of mixed emotions. "Today is a special day for me. To stand here and see so many friends and colleagues makes it even more special. But I am also somewhat saddened because today is the last day my daughter, Gigi, will be a constituent and resident of Mount Vernon," Hyland stated.
He then explained that she is moving to Albany, N.Y., to become general counsel for the Empire Corporation Federal Credit Union. "And, she's taking my grandchild, her black Labrador retriever, with her," he complained.
Another surprise to Hyland was the attendance of his sister, Carole Santos from Hilton Head, S.C. He referred to her as his "wombmate." They are twins.
WAYNE ACORS, president-elect of the National Association of Counties, from Caroline County, Va., noted, "Although Gerry hails from New England, like this magnolia tree, he has planted strong roots in Virginia. It is placed here today to recognize his service to all the counties of this state as well as his own. I hope it becomes a stop on his Annual Town Meeting Bus Tour."
Kicking off the dedication ceremony was Katherine K. Hanley (D), chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She recognized Hyland's long service to the Board and noted that he was second-longest-serving supervisor from the Mount Vernon District.
Donated by Hybla Valley Nursery, the 5-foot magnolia stands next to the entrance walk on the side of the building that will house the new group of offices known as "The Supervisor's Suite." The plaque at the tree's base recognizes Hyland service as VACo's president.
In closing the formal ceremonies, Hyland said, "When I look back over my 15 years of service on the Board of Supervisors, I'm so grateful I have had this opportunity."
In addition to members of his staff, constituents, friends, family, county police and fire department members, and other representatives of VACo, the event was also attended by state Sen. Linda T. "Toddy" Puller and former state Sen. Joseph Gartlan. It is anticipated the new center, located at 2511 Parkers Lane, will be operative by springtime.