A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Monday in Leonardville for a new ambulance station that will serve residents of Northern Riley County.

“It feels good. It means that we’re starting the next phase and that is getting this building built, and having a full-time 24 hour presence of our service in north Riley County is long overdue and is very exciting for everyone,” said David Adams, Riley County EMS Director.

Many believe the project is long overdue including Riley County District 2 Commissioner Greg McKinley, who campaigned on the issue when he ran for office in 2020. He has been a vocal advocate for an EMS presence in the north county since his days on the Riley City Council.

“Everybody kept saying no and I said that’s why I ran. I decided I can run for commission and we’ll make it happen,” he said.

McKinley, who lives in Riley, shares the sentiments of many north county residents who have long pressed county officials for such a facility. Just 15 months ago, Riley County Commissioners heard from a standing-room only crowd in Leonardville about the need, which was enough to convince all three commissioners to work toward a solution.

“I knew it could be done. It just needed somebody to give it a little push and a lot of support from all the people up here,” McKinley said.

Adams says once completed, the north county station will be staffed with a paramedic and an EMT 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We’ll go anywhere from an 18 minute response time for a lot of these citizens, down to a 5 or 6 minute response time. It’s going to make a big difference for everybody,” he said.

Schultz Construction is the contractor for the nearly $867,000 project, which was designed by Anderson Knight Architects. The station will feature an apparatus bay, sleeping rooms, an office, kitchen, a commons area and storage.

County officials expect construction to be completed by the end of September.