New home hatches for Station 21

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By Amy Ryffel-Kragh

It was only the Friday before when Marion County Fire Rescue turned dirt for its newest fire station – and they did it again on June 6 with the groundbreaking for Friendship Station 21. But it will be about a year before firefighters and volunteers can move into their new digs off S.W. 90th Street and move out of their current building, which was once a turkey processing plant.

Fire Chief M. Stuart McElhaney opened the groundbreaking ceremony by thanking taxpayers, county commissioners and On Top of the World president Ken Colen. “We are very pleased with support that Ken has provided the fire service over the years,” McElhaney said.

Marion County Commissioner Stan McClain, gave the invocation and spoke on behalf of the Commission. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said of the new station.

Jaye Baillie, president of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce, and S.W State Road 200 Corridor Coalition vice-president Cindy Congdon, also spoke at the ceremony. “The Coalition wants to thank the people that made this possible and they want to wish all of the firefighters a safe journey,” Congdon said.

McElhaney thanked the volunteer firefighters at Friendship Station 21 for all their work and thanked the career firefighters as well.

Friendship Station 21 is the busiest firehouse in the county. The new three-bay facility will be 9,708 sq. ft. and cost about $2 million to build, which will come from already budgeted fire assessments and impact fees.

Initially the station will have 15 fulltime firefighters, but there is room for future growth, said Heather Danenhower, public information officer for Marion County Fire Rescue.

Contact Amy Ryffel-Kragh at 854-3986 or e-mail akragh@newsrlsmc.com.