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Sparking the new station: Ground breaks on new central fire station in Cottage Grove

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The Cottage Grove City Council members, along with Fire Chief Rick Redenius (center) and Washington County Commissioner Karla Bigham (far right) announce the groundbreaking of the new Central Fire Station. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 7
Firefighter Kristen Haapoja and Ava Haapoja pose with the hardhats at the Central Fire Station groundbreaking. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 7
Deputy Fire Chief PJ McMahon, Fire Chief Rick Redenius, city council member Dave Thiede, Mayor Myron Bailey, city council members Steve Dennis and La Rae Mills, Washington County Commissioner Karla Bigham, council member Wayne Johnson and Public Safety Director Craig Woolery toss dirt. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 7
The Cottage Grove Fire Department tosses dirt at the future site of their new fire station. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 5 / 7
Retired Cottage Grove firefighters join in with Deputy Fire Chief PJ McMahon (far left) and Fire Chief Rick Redenius (far right). Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 6 / 7
Retired firefighter Dan Bigham and his son, current firefighter Brian Bigham, toss some dirt at the Central Fire Station groundbreaking. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 7 / 7

Though the 10-day demolition of the old fire station seemed lengthy, it will take a lot longer than that for the new facility to be built.

The city of Cottage Grove broke ground for the future Central Fire Station May 9 at the freshly vacated site.

The fire department expects to be operating out of the new facility by February of next year.

Mayor Myron Bailey said the new station — at almost 33,000 square feet — will be nearly twice the size of the previous station built in 1972.

Bailey said at the groundbreaking that the department answered around 3,000 calls last year, with an average response time of just five minutes, one of the lowest in the nation.

"This station will allow us to continue those great response times," he said. "We're extremely proud of the dedicated service from the firefighters."

Fire Chief Rick Redenius said the new station has been "a long day in coming" for the firefighter/ EMT-staffed department.

"Today begins a new era, not only for the fire division, but for the city and the citizens we are proud to serve," he said.

The station, set to cost $9 million, will be funded by general obligation capital improvement bonds, the same as funded the new City Hall back in 2012.

"I'm looking forward to cutting the ribbon and moving in," Public Safety Director Craig Woolery said.

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