It’s official: The new Ellis County Emergency Services building is open after four-and-a-half years of planning and construction.
It houses new county offices and Emergency Medical Services, emergency management and Ellis County Rural Fire.
The opening of the building was made official Tuesday at 1105 E. 22nd at a ribbon cutting by the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce.
Building tours were given throughout the day.
During the tours, guests were shown a section of the building set aside for ambulances and other emergency services vehicles, and another section designed for fire trucks and additional fire response vehicles.
Other sections housed offices, including a training room designed to accommodate up to 80 students. Off to the side is a kitchen where trainees could get snacks or warm a lunch.
“The training room could also be used as a place for other emergency services in the community if needed,” Rural Fire Chief Darin Myers said while guiding one of the tours.
An electrical room also provided services to the building as well as a generator in case electricity should fail.
A break room for employees also is available, along with small rooms with beds, a computer area and an entertainment area with TV and couch.
An office was included for Myers, and another area of the building has bunk beds and fire equipment for the firefighters.
During an opening of remarks at the event, Ellis County Commission Chairwoman Marcy McClelland said in 2013 a half-cent sales tax increase was voted on for funding the building and other renovations in the county. The referendum passed during an election in May of that year.
On average, the sales tax has collected approximately $287,000 a month, McClelland said.
Former Fire Chief Dick Klaus, who retired in April, said he was impressed with the new building.
“It’s a lot better than what they were in,” he said. “They’ve got room here. (In the older building), they were packed in.”
Travis Hageman, a firefighter for the city, agreed with Klaus.
“It’s very nice,” he said.