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Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at

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Tensions simmer again over HELP Center

Tensions are simmering again over the HELP Center, a proposed health and human services complex in King George County, to the point one supervisor believes race is the reason for the reactions.

“There’s a lot of animosity because we gave this woman—an African–American woman—some land, and people got a problem with that,” said Supervisor Cedell Brooks Jr. “Why are they so hard on this woman and her project?”

“This woman” is Froncé Wardlaw, director of the nonprofit group, Project FAITH. She presented her annual report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday and asked to extend the start of construction of the HELP Center from from Feb. 28 to Aug. 1, 2013.

After Wardlaw’s brief remarks, Supervisors Dale Sisson Jr. and Joe Grzeika started asking questions—at which point Brooks said he was tired of hearing “all the negativity” associated with the project within the King George community.

“The woman’s working hard to get this thing done, and everything’s got to be so negative,” said Brooks, who told The Free Lance–Star recently that he’s seeking re-election in November because the HELP Center is one of several projects he wants to see completed.

Last May, after more than three years of discussions, the county agreed to give Project FAITH 5.5 acres of land for the center. The 42,000-square-foot building would include offices for health and social services, a free clinic, community college classes and a commercial kitchen serving free meals, all under one roof.

Read the full story in an upcoming issue of The Free Lance-Star. See a drawing of the proposed center here: 2013 HELP Center