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The municipal building was bustling Friday morning as Los Alamos residents took tours of the county’s new home.
So many people turned up that officials such as Deputy County Administrator Steven Lynne were sometimes hard pressed to find departments not already occupied with another tour group.
Department heads greeted the tours in most departments, including County Administrator Harry Burgess, County Assessor JoAnn Johnson and Community and Economic Development Director Charlie Kalogeros-Chattan. Each explained what their department does before the group was toured their offices.
Tours were followed by a well-attended ribbon cutting ceremony led by council Chair Geoff Rodgers.
Among the 200 or so people attending the ceremony were representatives from New Mexico’s congressional delegation, former County Attorney and Acting County Administrator Randy Autio and former councilors Ron Selvage, Robert Gibson, Mike Wheeler and Lawry Mann.
New Mexico State Rep. Nick L. Salazar, who has long-standing ties to Los Alamos, arrived after the ceremony.
“I think the building is beautiful,” Salazar said. “It’s especially well-designed to serve both the people who work here and the people of the community for years to come.”
Rodgers pointed out several key features of the building, starting with the fact that it came in $1.7 million under its $25 million budget and opened six months ahead of schedule.
Rodgers also pointed out the area of the property left open for retail development, that the building has been submitted for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification, and the free Wi-Fi which is available to the public anywhere in the building.
“There is technology built into the building that will help government be more transparent,” Rodgers said. “The chambers as well as the conference room next to the chambers have live streaming so that people can watch your government in action and keep a close eye on us.”
County boards and commissions begin meeting in the new board room this month to take advantage of the streaming and recording technology.
“But most importantly, it was designed with public access in mind, and most of the services that are used most frequently are available just as you walk in the door on the ground floor. We want the public to feel comfortable here because it is your building,” Rodgers continued.
“And as with any large project, there are those who support it and those that don’t. but if we continue to have the kind of civil, public debate that we had about this building here, then we will continue to govern ourselves, and we will continue to govern ourselves well.
“Just for a moment, look past the building and all the physical attributes of it, and look at what it represents. It tells the world that at this place we choose to govern ourselves. There are many people around the world who cannot make that statement, and many of those people dare not make that statement.”