Some good news from Iraq.

HABBANIYAH, Iraq, May 23, 2008 – Habbaniyah Mayor Hussein Ali Hussein, city council members and directors-general celebrated the groundbreaking of the Habbaniyah Government Center in Iraq’s Anbar province May 21.

The center, in the Khalidiyah neighborhood west of Camp Habbaniyah, is centrally located to address the demands of people from Husaybah east to Fallujah.

"This is a step in the right direction -- a place for people to go if they need help from their government," Hussein said. "We are all very grateful for the hard work that everyone has put into these projects, as well as the help that we have received from the Marines in improving the area."

Among those in attendance were Marine Corps Lt. Col. Francis Charlonis, commander of 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, whose area of operations includes Habbaniyah; and Col. Khalid, the Habbaniyah district’s chief of police.

During the groundbreaking, Mayor Hussein announced the awarding of several contracts to local firms that will result in improvements in basic services and infrastructure in the greater Habbaniyah area.

Some of the improvement projects highlighted included one that will connect the emergency electricity line in Khalidiyah with the water-treatment facility across the Euphrates River, another that will supply trash bins to the neighborhoods of Husaybah, Sharqiyah, Mudiq and Abu Dimina, and a project to pave the uneven streets of East Habbaniyah's civil camp neighborhood.

Khalidiyah also will host two new courthouses -- one for criminal cases, the other for civil action and other matters -- as well as a new police station that will serve as the area's anchor for law enforcement and jurisprudence.

Renovations also are being planned for the Khalidiyah water-treatment facility as part of efforts to improve the area's delivery of basic services by the city in partnership with Fox Co.

"The people here have long expressed [a desire for] improvements in water and other critical infrastructure," said Marine Corps Maj. Guillermo Rosales, commander of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines.

Rosales’ unit is working closely with Iraqi security forces in Husaybah, Jazeera and Habbaniyah to achieve provincial Iraqi control. "Hopefully this will give the people more confidence that their government -- local, provincial and federal -- can help them,” he said.

(From a Multinational Force West news releas