Liberty ready to put out fires

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

In February 2008 Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) had a groundbreaking ceremony for Liberty Station 32. A little more than a year later, the 30th Marion County fire station officially opened for business.

Local officials and residents attended the ribbon cutting ceremony recently at the new station on S.W. 49th Avenue.

MCFR Chief M. Stuart McElhaney led the ceremony, which included remarks from vice chairwoman of the Marion County Commission, Barbara Fitos; president of Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce Jaye Ballie and Ethridge Construction president Mike Ethridge.

During her speech, Fitos said Liberty Station 32 would improve response times for the neighborhoods it will serve, which includes Marco Polo Village, Forest Glenn, Sun Valley, Majestic Oaks, Cherrywood Estates and JB Ranch. In addition, the 8,474-sq. ft. two-bay fire station will be added support to Friendship Station 21 and Marion Oaks Station 24.

Liberty Station 32 was not originally part of the 10-year plan adopted by the Marion County Commission in 2001. It was added after studying population density and 911 call data in southwest Marion County, according to a MCFR press release.

The new firehouse has 15 full-time firefighter/paramedics on staff and created 154 jobs for local workers while it was under construction. Liberty Station 32 cost approximately $1.6 million to build.

E-mail staff writer Amy Ryffel-Kragh at akragh@riverlandnews.com.