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Kandiyohi County's new rescue squad building getting rave reviews; public open house is scheduled Monday

The new $1.15 million rescue squad building on Lakeland Drive Southeast in Willmar. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- After spending more than 35 years in a building that was leaky, dirty and lacked basic amenities, the Kandiyohi County Rescue Squad is relishing its new facility,

"Unbelievable," is the first word Emergency Management Director Don Ericson uttered when asked to describe the new building.

"It's just such a nice facility," said Ericson. "It's very basic, but it's clean, it's dry and it's warm."

It's a far cry from the converted bus garage the rescue squad had been using that was too small, had moldy insulation hanging from the ceiling and often had water puddles on the floor that rescue workers had to "dance around" as they ran to vehicles.

"We're just very happy to have a facility that's dry," Ericson said.

On Monday the 20 members of the county's rescue squad and their spouses will be treated to a banquet at the building to celebrate completion of the $1.15 million facility and to recognize the volunteers for their service.

Then, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., the public is invited to tour the new building on Lakeland Drive Southeast.

"We want to thank the public," Ericson said. "They have an investment in this."

Rescue squad members will be on hand to talk about their role as volunteers and answer questions about the new facility.

One of the best features, Ericson said, is that all of the squad's equipment is now stored under one roof instead of being "scattered" in other county buildings. "It's designed to fit what we have."

There is one empty stall to allow for future growth. "We're happy with that," Ericson said.

There are also some rooms that will remain empty until enough money has been raised through the annual budget or volunteer fundraisers to buy the needed equipment.

There's a new locker room, but there wasn't enough money to buy new lockers. In the meantime, the old lockers were installed in the truck bay and will be used until the new room can be properly equipped.

There's also a laundry room to wash the volunteers' turnout gear, but there wasn't enough money to buy the commercial washer and special drying cabinet that's needed to avoid damaging the clothes.

The new kitchen area is also bare.

The finishing touches will all come later, Ericson said. It's hoped that by using county employees, volunteers or individuals from the sentence-to-serve program, the work can be done inexpensively.

Crews moved all the equipment into the building a couple weeks ago and have already rolled out emergency vehicles to respond to several accidents. The building, said Ericson, "works great."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750