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Upgrade a necessity

The current facilities occupied by Ellis County Rural Fire Department and the Ellis County Emergency Medical Services have reached beyond the intended capacity of their respective buildings. For the efficient operations of our agencies and the safety of the personnel that serve our citizens, we need the new proposed EMS/Rural Fire building to be built at 22nd Street and General Hays Road in Hays.  The question the voters need to answer is this: Does Ellis County pay for these projects with a sales tax or an increase in property taxes?

Five fire vehicles are in a small 3,040-square-foot building.  We maneuver these trucks in and out with each fire call, depending on the size and scale of the fire call.  One vehicle is parked outside at all times. Because of the confines of the building, there is very little room for the 16 firefighters to either get into gear or train. When one of our citizens experiences a fire, time is of the essence, and with the new facility we will be able to maximize our efficiency, which equals safety for you.  

The current EMS building was fine with only 11 employees and four vehicles; however, with the current demands of providing pre-hospital care to the citizens of Ellis County, the building is unable accommodate the needs of 41 employees and nine vehicles.  Currently, there is not adequate in-house space for our medical records and medical supplies. Medical supplies are stored in the bay area with the vehicles, which exposes them to diesel fumes and soot. Training space is very limited, and training equipment is also stored off-site.  Additionally, the current facility provides very little space for the personal privacy of those men and women working 24-hour shifts together.  

This project is essential to the health and safety of Ellis County citizens. Together with the courthouse and jail renovations, the total cost with interest is around $14.32 million.  This sales tax, if passed, will sunset in five years or when the bonds are paid off, whichever comes first.  If the tax sunsets before the bonds are fully paid off, the balance will taken care of within the county budget.  

The vote on May 14 lets the voters decide. Do you want to pay for these projects with a sales tax or an increase in property taxes?  

If you would like to see either of these facilities, please contact either one of us and we will be happy to show them to you. We are certain if you do this, you will see how essential this new building is.  

Dick Klaus, Ellis County Rural Fire director

Kerry McCue, Ellis County EMS director