COVINGTON - The Newton County Administration Building was officially dedicated at a ceremony on Sunday.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was the keynote speaker at the event, but Board of Commissioners Chairman Aaron Varner said the real VIPs were the residents of Newton County who approved the special purpose local option sales tax that funded the $8.9 million building.
"We're grateful to the citizens and taxpayers who understand that a central and accessible place to do business is in their best interest," he said.
When recently thanked by a county employee for the new building, Varner said he responded, "Let me tell you one thing: The Board of Commissioners didn't have any money. It came from the taxpayers."
Varner was followed by Cagle, who praised local officials and the county's state legislative delegation for their leadership.
"When I think of Newton County and Covington, I think of the wonderful people that have been there with me every step of the way," he said.
Cagle called Newton County a unique community of integrity and quality.
He said the real cause for celebration was the service the building would perform for the community.
"As beautiful as it is, it is just a building," he said. "The building is there to serve this community. Life is not about self, it is about service to others ... The reason we celebrate today ... (is for) what this facility is going to be able to accomplish for this great community."
Ray McFadden, the project manager hired by the county, spoke of the teamwork it took to build the facility.
"I have been involved in the design and construction business more years than I would like to admit, and my experience is that successful projects are done with successful human resources," McFadden said.
"We had quality partners to team up to build this," he added before thanking the architects, Lyman Davidson Dooley, Inc. and construction company, Hogan Construction Group.
Paul Hogan, president of Hogan Construction, said the project took coordination, commitment and cooperation.
"I hope it will be a building that you will be proud of for years to come," Hogan said.
"Newton County is lucky to have a man like Ray McFadden that knows how to build ... as a steward of the county's money, I haven't seen anybody better than Ray. He spends your money wisely, and I will tell you that he stretched a dollar further than anybody I've ever seen in my life," he said.
Roland Davidson, principal architect with Lyman Davidson and Dooley, said his team's goal was to capture the sense of community already established and to make sure the building was in keeping with the historic character of the Newton County Historic Courthouse, headquarters for the county commission offices.
"I want to congratulate the community for supporting SPLOST and the great effort that went into this," he said.
Following the ceremony, the public was invited to tour the facility, which houses the Planning and Development Department; the Tax Assessors and Tax Commissioners offices; Newton County Board of Elections; Environmental Health; GIS/Information Technology; and Water Resources departments; and the Newton County Extension office.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.