STORCK BARRACKS, Germany (Oct. 16, 2013) -- U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach unveiled the Army's newest Child Development and School Age Center complex here Sept. 28 during the grand-opening ceremony for the Storck Child, Youth and School Services Complex.

Hundreds of visitors attended the grand opening and ribbon-cutting for the $8.7 million facility, which combines three facilities into one and provides care for newborns as young as 6 weeks old to children in fifth grade.

"On behalf of all our Soldiers and Families in the USAG Ansbach footprint, I want to tell you how very excited we are about the grand opening of this brand-new complex, which will enable us to provide the best possible care, quality and patron convenience while increasing the operational and energy efficiency, and improving the safety for our most precious resource," said Col. Christopher M. Benson, USAG Ansbach commander.

Benson continued by emphasizing the importance of CYS Services' mission of enhancing the "readiness and well-being of the workforce and their families by providing predictable, affordable and quality programs and services to our children."

"This is absolutely essential," Benson told the hundreds of Soldiers, family members, civilians and project contributors who attended the ceremony. "Without places like this to take care of the Army Families, it would be difficult to accomplish our mission. To know there is someone there to ensure the safety, well-being and the development of our children strengthens our ability to accomplish the mission and also strengthens our community as a whole -- not just those of you who live and work at Storck, but the entire USAG Ansbach community."

Benson encouraged community members to be proud of what he termed "our centers of excellence" throughout the USAG Ansbach footprint and especially at Storck Barracks -- whether it is the new Storck CYS Services Complex, or other attractions like the Community Activity Center, the new Screening Room, the library or the physical fitness center.

Speaking next was Col. D. Peter Helmlinger, commander of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Europe District. Helmlinger shared highlights of the facility with the audience, speaking from a perspective of an engineer and with the appreciation of a once-young member of an Army Family and a product of Child and Youth Services.

The new facility, which incorporates an activities room, administrative offices, a training room and an outdoor play area, also features a secure video monitoring system and a "state-of-the-art fire protection and alarm system, which has been installed for children's safety and for parents' peace of mind," Helmlinger said.

"Opening a project of this magnitude requires hard work and dedication," said Helmlinger, who thanked a list of project-delivery team members from different agencies including Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Child, Youth and School Services; Installation Management Command; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ansbach Resident Office; the Nuremberg Bauamt; and USAG Ansbach and its Directorate of Public Works.

"Over the past two years," Helmlinger added, "this team has worked together to deliver this premier facility to serve Soldiers, civilians and Families from across the community. To our many partners, I would like to say thank you. … We are building strong and Army strong."

Helmlinger presented a ceremonial key to the facility on behalf of the Army Corps of Engineers to "symbolize our partnership and commitment to the Franconia Military Community."

Klaus Gerstendorff, Nuremberg Bauamt director, also thanked the project delivery team members: "It's a good moment to tell you my great thanks to the fantastic team."

Joan Thomas, program operations specialist with IMCOM-Europe's CYS Services, spoke last. Thomas explained the saying "It takes a village to raise a child" and how it applies to the addition to USAG Ansbach.

"Everyone in the village has a role to play in helping the children to live and grow up in a safe and healthy environment with the education, love and support they need to become productive, contributing members of society," she said.

She added that this facility "embodies the environment and support that our Army village has provided to our children. Everyone who works in this building, from caregivers, cooks, front desk clerks to managers are committed to providing quality services to the children who come through these doors. Everyone who supports the CYS Services program from DPW, Fire, Safety, our public health nurse, to name a few, are also part of this village and contribute to the quality of life of our children. Thanks to all of these great partners for all their support that they give Child, Youth and School Services."

After the ceremony, administrators led a group of attendees on a tour of the facility. One of those attendees, Sgt. Symone M. Kolagbodi, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, called the new complex "spacious and organized."

Kolagbodi arrived here this year from Fort Drum, N.Y., with her 5- and 8-year-old. She said the grand opening of a new, centralized CYS Services location gave her a good introduction to Germany and USAG Ansbach.

"Since they combined the facilities, it's so much more convenient," said Kolagbodi, adding that it's especially helpful when she works late and doesn't have to run to multiple locations on post. "I said, 'Yes, this has answered my prayers. They're right here in one location.' It's so much easier."