Dedication held for new City Hall
RIDGELAND — About 100 people turned out Sunday afternoon despite sleet and snow for a dedication ceremony at the new Ridgeland City Hall at U.S. 51 and W. School Street.
Most attendees, wearing facial coverings to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, huddled beneath a canvass tent with heaters set up in front of the entryway to the new City Hall.
The Rev. Ryan Lamberson of Word of Life Church gave the invocation before members of the Ridgeland High School AFJROTC Color Guard posted the colors, including raising the new Mississippi State Flag.
Ridgeland Mayor Pro Tempore Kevin Holder led the group in the pledge of allegiance before the Ridgeland High School Singers, under the direction of Ridgeland High School Choral Director Rachel Landrum, performed the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Mayor Gene F. McGee addressed the crowd thanking many people who played a part in getting the new building constructed and in operation.
Among those McGee honored and thanked were U.S. Rep. Michael Guest and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, who could not attend due to weather, state Sen. Walter Michel, state Reps. Jill Ford, Debra Gibbs and former state Rep. Rita Martinson, State Sen. John Hohrn, Madison County Supervisor Gerald Steen and members of the Ridgeland Board of Aldermen.
Also in attendance were leaders of Benchmark Construction, the construction managers on the project, representatives of Dean & Dean Construction and architects and engineers, all of whom McGee thanked.
“Our historical committee,” McGee said, “… Nancy Batson, Robby Carr, Donna Dye, Polly Hammack, Mike Porter and Pat Truesdale … have done a wonderful job of gathering the historical artifacts to put in our history room, and we are very proud of that.”
McGee also acknowledged city employees for helping with the move, getting the computer equipment running and said public works employees and other department employees were instrumental in moving boxes to the new location quickly and efficiently when city workers moved into the new facility on Feb. 1.
“Alan Hart (director of community development) helped just being sure that everything besides our construction management was going the way that it needed to go, working with furniture people, working with the architect, doing all kind of things and being sure people were doing the right kind of things,” McGee said. “So, Alan, thank you. He is a rock.”
Each mention McGee gave was followed by a round of applause.
“My administrative assistant, Lisa Walters, has been dual in this move,” McGee said. “You just won’t believe what all she has done to be sure it is organized. She has taken control of this like a mother hen, and I tell you she has done a great job. I appreciate that, Lisa.”
McGee went on to recount some of the history behind the new “City Center.”
“The City Center was first identified in 2008 in a Ridgeland master plan,” McGee said, adding the city still uses the same master plan. “Every aldermen (board) since then have remained focused on implementing the city’s No. 1 priority and that is the Ridgeland City Center.”
McGee said city leaders purchased the 25 acres of land for the center in 2008 and obtained grants and permits for environmental cleanup of the property.
“We spent the next few years designing the project and developing the funding capacity to get to this very day,” McGee said. “We picked this location because it is universally the center of the city. To make it possible we battled through property acquisition, environmental testing, remediation, demolition of buildings and removal of nearly 40,000 tons of concrete and foundations that were crushed and recycled to use in other projects.”
McGee said the City Center’s location is an excellent choice for access to other city offices and has room for expansion.
“(It) is surrounded by the library, the court services, the police station and adjacent Freedom Ridge Park,” McGee said. “We have additional building sites for the future that may include more government buildings, a library, a civic center, a Choctaw Indian Agency and Performing Arts, and it is also possible that we can surface some of the property and sell it to some developers. We are really excited about that fact.”
McGee said the city broke ground on the facility 548 days before Sunday’s dedication.
“We are so happy to see the fruits of our labor, not only for a new city hall but the other huge projects we had like Lake Harbor Construction and Colony Park Boulevard,” said McGee who recently secured his ninth-consecutive term as Mayor of Ridgeland after garnering no opposition for his reelection. “All of those particular projects have been done and are now a reality. And guess what. All of that was done with no tax increase.”
Before officials cut the ribbon, Hart provided some details on the new building.
“The new Ridgeland City Hall is designed by Dean & Dean and is a two-story brick and stone structure of approximately 32,000 square feet,” Hart said. “The building features aluminum artwork right here that is inspired by the city’s logo and a Veterans’ Memory Park in front of it, complete with a bell that can be rung in honor of any veteran who served our great country.”
Hart said the two-story lobby features artwork, including murals by Mark Mallett and glass art by Pearl River Glass.
“Adjacent to the lobby you will find a well-appointed history room that includes artifacts, maps and more to preserve the history of Ridgeland,” Hart said. “On the opposite side of the lobby you will find the boardroom which can comfortably seat an audience of 70 people and includes the latest technology.”
Hart said the building features an enclosed and temperature-controlled IT server room and traffic control division with traffic monitors to cover the entire city.
“The public works department features an emergency operations center focused on providing continuous service to the community in times of crisis,” Hart said.
“Beyond these areas you’ll find that the rest of the building is simply built for function and service. The finishes in the mayor’s office, finance administration, water billing, community development, public works, recreation and parks, are all very simple and budget friendly.”
The Rev. Mark Byrd, Ph.D., of First Ridgeland gave the benediction followed by the Ridgeland High School singers for a closing rendition of “America The Beautiful.”
Then aldermen and other public officials and dignitaries cut a big red ribbon before people entered the building for tours.