Work begins on new emergency building
By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
There was a clear sense of closure Tuesday at a groundbreaking for Ellis County's new EMS/rural fire facility at 22nd and General Hays.
After more than four years of planning, the county will begin work on its first new building in 38 years.
Approximately 50 people attended the ceremony, staged by the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce.
Speeches delivered on the freshly turned dirt hailed the community's support for progress and the leaders who shaped the project.
The $3.5 million building will be completed within a year.
Ellis County Commission Chairwoman Barbara Wasinger joked the moment was unbelievable for the rural fire department director, Dick Klaus.
"This is such an exciting day for us, very momentous for Ellis County," Wasinger said.
"A day that I know Dick Klaus didn't think was going to happen in his lifetime, but we're going to prove him wrong. We got it all taken care of."
Commissioner Dean Haselhorst said he appreciated Ellis County residents enabling the project by approving the special half-cent sales tax.
"Every citizen in Ellis County can pat themselves on the back because every time they go shopping, they contribute to building this station," he said.
Emergency responders should be able to reach incidents faster based on their new location, he said.
Bill Ring, Ellis County Emergency Management director, said the new building will provide extra space for training and now allow him to store his command post RV on-site.
Scott Reese, EMS lieutenant, said the building's living quarters will be expanded. Reese's department works in 24-hour shifts, and the space is needed for rest.
Wasinger said the new building will improve teamwork among the first responders.
"It means more efficiency and better coordination between the three entities," she said
"They've always worked well together, but now they can all be together."