HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - A crowd of approximately 100 people braved the cold and wind to attend the Child, Youth and School Services Center's ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new School Age Youth Center at Hunter Army Airfield, along with the re-signing of the Army Family Covenant for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, Feb. 26.

With Hunter's growing population, the center is the first of two new childcare facilities to open this year to serve the needs of Families; the second will open in June. Two additional childcare facilities are scheduled to open in 2011.

"Our childcare programs have grown as the installation has grown," said Terri McMillian, Child and Youth Service director at Hunter. "These additions are part of the Family Covenant."

This $7 million, 20,556 square-foot facility on S. Perimeter Road features multiple amenities such as, computer rooms, atrium, multipurpose room, and more features that Families can enjoy. The facility houses children, grades one through five, for School Age Services and a middle teen program for grades six through 12.

"We design these facilities to make life better for our Families," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division, deputy commanding general-rear.

The center also provides before and after school programs, 4-H programs, tutors, and Boys and Girls Club of America programming, according to Meckela Smith, transitions specialist, Child Youth and School Services for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield.

The Army Family Covenant was also re-signed by military leaders, as part of the activities at the facility's grand opening.

Those in attendance watched a video of 3rd Infantry Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, who spoke of how the Family Covenant re-signing reinforced the purpose and pledge of the covenant and how he will continue to 'keep the promise' of the covenant to Family Members.
Brigadier General Phillips followed the video with comments about the relationship between Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and the civilian community.

"There has been an incredible interwoven net of support between Hunter and the civilian community," he said.

Jordan Whitten, the 10-year-old son of a Soldier at Hunter, said he enjoyed his role in the SAYS celebration, especially cutting the ribbon.

"I was nervous, but I got through it," he said. Jordan also said he likes the new facility and has already used it after school. "It's great," he said, smiling broadly. "There is more to do here than at the old building. My favorite part is the activity and game room."

Participants were also smiling as they ate cake and toured the new center with the SAYS staff after the covenant resigning ceremony.

"The staff was really excited about the grand opening," said Heather Ramsey, Hunter's school liaison officer. "They worked hard preparing for it, and we all look forward to showing it off to our community."