Federal, state, and local officials as well as many Montgomery County employees were on hand Wednesday for the official opening of a new wing at the county’s public safety building located on Route 5S. The ceremony also included a surprise for one long-time county employee, as County Executive Matt Ossenfort revealed that the wing would be named after Probation Director Lucille Sitterly, who has worked for the county since 1969, including the last 12 years in her current position.
After asking Sitterly to stand next to him at the podium, Ossenfort said, “There are not many people that I have more respect for than the woman standing next to me. When we talked about the opening of this building, I thought it was very important that we do something special to acknowledge someone special. So I’d like to say that this is now officially known as the Lucille Sitterly Wing at the Montgomery County Public Safety Facility.”
Sitterly said she was completely taken by surprise and overwhelmed.
“I never expected this,” she said. “This building was first planned in 1996 and again in 2004, and it took Matt [Ossenfort] and this board of legislators to finally bring it to fruition. I say to everybody I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. This is just a wonderful facility. I thank Matt and I thank the board. I’m just overwhelmed. Thank you so much.”
According to Ossenfort, the new 10,715-square-foot building was constructed at a cost of approximately $3.9 million in federal, state, and local funds. He added that the new building will be safer and more efficient. Several departments, including emergency management, mental health, probation, and public defender, have moved their offices from the Annex Building on Park Street in Fonda to the new facility.
“This is not just an emergency operation center,” Ossenfort told the crowd. “This is part of our larger plan for a consolidation and relocation of our county offices, to be more efficient, save dollars and provide better services. We went from the old building, which is in a flood zone. And now, as you’ll see in a little bit, we have a state of the art facility, and it’s right in line with what we need today. To have everyone here on one consolidated campus out of the flood zone is fantastic. Now we don’t have to worry about the emergency operations center flooding because it is on a hill, earthquake-proof and tornado-proof, so I think we’re in pretty good shape. ”
Ossenfort thanked New York State Senator George Amedore and United States Representative Paul Tonko for helping secure state and federal funding for the project.
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit,” Ossenfort said. “I think that’s what happened here, we really all focused on getting the job done, and that’s exactly how it went down”
Tonko said emergency responders in the county “need to be applauded for being the inspiration for this consolidated effort with the public safety wing. And so I thank all of the individuals who give their professionalism and volunteerism a major push to be there as a totally responsive team in this county.”
Tonko called the new building “a good use of federal dollars. The $135,000 that was made available for the equipment in this wing will go a long way to respond to and respect the professionalism offered by career and volunteer types who make it their goal, their mission, their passion to protect us and save us in times of danger and emergencies.”
Amedore said the new facility should be a source of pride for county residents.
“Everyone in the county should be proud of where their tax dollars are going, and the investments in infrastructure as well as digital infrastructure,” he said. “The residents of this great county should feel much safer and more prepared for whatever is to come in the near future.”
County Emergency Management Director Jeffery T. Smith said he and his staff are proud and excited to move into the new building.
“Compared to where we came from, it’s just unbelievable to us,” he said.
Smith thanked the county legislators for their financial support and the county Department of Public Works staff for helping with the move into the new building. He also thanked Undersheriff Justin Cramer and members of the county Data Processing Department for their help with new digital equipment.
Kevin Wisely, deputy commissioner of the state Homeland Security Department, praised local officials for the work they do.
“You’re doing a great job here,” he said. “You have a great, strong team here. You’ve come out of some adversity, you’ve come back stronger, you’re more resilient, and that’s a testament to the team that you have, to the people that you have here. Congratulations.”