MARION — Cheers erupted from Osceola County Emergency Management Services supporters during a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house that officially designated the beginning of the newest permanent EMS station.

Located in the village of Marion, the station is 3,000 square feet, including a connected garage, and features amenities including a garage with the space for two ambulances, two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a laundry room, storage room, kitchen and living area with a work space. Two EMS personnel will be stationed at the base at one time.

"We're ecstatic. It's about time," said Osceola County EMS Director Jeremy Beebe. "Having this reduces our response time and eliminates liability for the county for travel risk from the rental house we used to use to the station."

The project became a hot topic last year as commissioners and township residents in the county's northwest quadrant disagreed on the need for a station in Marion. Beebe discussed statistics with commissioners regarding call volume, distance to the nearest hospital, travel time and availability of first responders, and commissioners approved the project last July with a 4-3 vote.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place in September, construction began in the spring and the building was complete by summer. Now the base is fully operational and in use for when emergencies happen.

"This day has been long in coming, but it has arrived," said County Commissioner Larry Emig. "The base gives EMS a comfortable place to stay and work out of and it will give them the tools to do their job well and perform better."