Officers of the Grand Lodge of Georgia Free and Accepted Masons joined members of the Etowah Lodge on Sunday to lay a cornerstone at the new Dawson County Government Center.
Etowah Lodge donated the 12-by-24-inch stone that was placed in the front right corner of the building and includes the names of Georgia's Grand Master Jerry Moss and Worshipful Master Woodrow Harvey II of the local lodge.
"We'd like to thank you all for coming out to a very important day in Dawson County and for Masonry," Harvey said.
It's a tradition of the Masons, when requested, to lay cornerstones at public and charitable institutions, monuments and seats of learning.
Commission Chairman Mike Berg called the cornerstone ceremony an appropriate tribute and thanked the Masons for their contributions to the community.
"It's a fitting touch that the Masons came here today to put the cornerstone in," Berg said. "It's part of the heritage of this county and being so, it's just the first start in a long range of times that we'll be able to let the citizens enjoy this great building."
Set to open in January, the $15.4 million government center is the county's largest project to date. It will bring all offices of local government under one roof.
The community is invited to the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, which is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 3. Gov. Nathan Deal is the scheduled keynote speaker.
Tours of the 111,000-square-foot facility on Shoal Creek Road will also be available from 5 to 7 p.m. that day.
Approved by voters in 2007 as the top priority for the 1-cent sales tax extension, the four-story government center will replace the current courthouse, which was built in 1977.
A similar stone was set at the county's current courthouse in 1983.
Officials have not determined what will happen to that cornerstone when the current courthouse is demolished next year.