New neighbors will be joining city hall and the library at Hesperia Civic Plaza next year: The High Desert Government Center and the city's new police station broke ground Monday morning.


Work had begun weeks ago at the site, on Smoketree Street and Seventh Avenue, but Monday morning, work stopped briefly and construction equipment was posed artfully behind a berm of dirt ready for dignitaries to dig into with requisite golden shovels.


Several dozen dignitaries were on hand for the official kick-off for the construction, including San Bernardino County Sheriff Rod Hoops, First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, the Hesperia City Council, members of the Victorville city and Apple Valley Town Council and others.


Hesperia's sheriff's deputies are currently "crammed" into the station house (a former Circle K convenience store) on Santa Fe Avenue, said City Manager Mike Podegracz.


"It's old, it's not in the best location and, again, it's busting at the seams," he said.


"Two years ago, we wanted to add more deputies," said Mayor Thurston "Smitty" Smith. "[Hesperia sheriff's station Captain Lance] Clark said 'we have nowhere to put them.'"


But that will change once the buildings are complete next year.


"This will probably be the nicest station in any of our contract cities," said Hoops.


High Desert residents will also be able to access county government services without driving down the Cajon Pass, when the High Desert Government Center opens.


"By working together, the city and county are giving the taxpayers better value for their dollar," said Mitzelfelt. The county has already put the $29 million for the center into a reserve, so that the city can be paid back immediately upon completion. "So when it's done, it's cash. No IOUs from the county."


"Now comes the fun part," said Podegracz, gesturing toward the staffers holding the ceremonial golden shovels for the groundbreaking, "Getting your shoes dirty."


The city expects both buildings to open for business in October 2010.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.