Less than a year after breaking ground, dignitaries gathered June 15 to dedicate the $4.8 million Liberty County Department of Family and Children Services building.
“I think that was excellent. We never expected [the project to be early] after the delays,” DFCS Board Chairman John Henderson said, adding that nine months passed between groundbreaking and the office opening.
The project itself was in the works a long time, and many were on hand to show their support.
State Sens. Tommie Williams and Buddy Carter and state Rep. Al Williams were present for the dedication, along with Fort Stewart garrison commander Col. Kevin Milton and four Liberty County commissioners, according to Henderson.
State DFCS Director Ron Scroggy and Department of Human Services Director of Facilities and Support Services Jim Bricker also were on hand.
Henderson spoke alongside Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver, County Administrator Joey Brown, Hinesville Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Frasier and Scroggy.
Don Chandler, a partner in the Forum MDS Developers, also spoke.
After the ribbon cutting, staff members guided about 50 visitors on tours through the facility.
“It’s great. We have settled in and fully unpacked,” Liberty DFCS Director Debbie Bennett said.
The department’s staff moved into the 26,500-square-foot office on Highway 84 over three days in April before resuming normal business hours April 30.
The office contains furniture from the old office, as well as new items purchased through state and county grants, she said.
“We’ve got two visitation rooms for visits between children who are in foster care and their families … we have two now instead of one, which was problematic before,” Bennett added. “Everything is kind of new and fresh.”
With an estimated 80 offices, the department has room to grow within the new facility and could incorporate a regional function if the state moves in that direction, Henderson said.
He said the building provides DFCS a “much more pleasant place for them to do business. I think people even act differently when they come into a nice building, no matter what your circumstances are.
“And our people are just elated. They’ve been over in that building on North Main for over 25 years,” he said.
The state Division of Family and Children Services will rent the county-owned space on a year-by-year basis, with the intention of renting long term.
Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown previously said the county’s long-term plan is to locate a new health department facility on the site adjacent to the DFCS building so the services are provided from a single campus.