ST. FRANCIS -- Unifying public works -- that was on the minds of leaders and citizens in St. Francis Sunday morning. Hundreds gathered for the ground breaking of the city's new civic center.
"I think everybody at city hall is very excited about this project, to get it going," City Administrator Tim Rhode said.
Rhode says this has been in the works for more than a decade. The $9.7 million building will house police, fire, city offices, the health department and historical society all under one roof.
"The process moves very slow and we wanted to make sure we did it right," Rhode said. "We wanted to make sure we designed and have the building that fits our needs for the next 60 years."
The new building will be more than three-times the size of the current one. It will sit on land the city bought from WE Energies.
"All of us teamed together with the staff and really made this project happen," Mayor Cory Ann St. Marie-Carls said.
The city financed the project with a cost of just $60 to the average homeowner. St. Marie-Carls says the city's theme, 'Where your heart remains', will shine in the new building.
"The civic center is going to be the new heart of St. Francis," St. Marie-Carls said.
That's good news for police and firefighters, who have had to deal with makeshift offices for several years.
"Any incident that comes in, fire department, police department, a lot of times the DPW and city office workers are all part of the incident, so a close proximity makes it so much easier to work with," Fire Chief Frank Lockwood said.
Making the city safer and more efficient with a gem at its heart.
"We are a small community and it's time the city of St. Francis has something nice," Council President Don Brickner said.
The city expects to move into the new building by September 1, 2014.