BAXTER SPRINGS - Liberty Utilities - Empire District welcomed residents and local officials to the site of their new Baxter Springs Service Center for a groundbreaking ceremony on June 29. The location of the future facility is 939 W 5th Street, across from ATEC Steel.

Director of System Performance Sam McGarrah said an increase in response time was just one of many benefits local customers will notice when the project is complete.

"We think of our buildings as another tool of our trade," McGarrah said.

The current service center in Baxter Springs (905 Ottawa Road) was built in the early 1960s. Blake Mertens, VP Operations Electric for Liberty - Empire, said the project was apart of the company's work to improve reliability across its entire footprint in the central region.

Crossland Construction is set to begin work on the new service center on July 9. The new building will accommodate for the length of the new trucks, will meet all new code requirements, and will be more energy efficient. The layout and location of the new structure will also allow room for growth, storage, in-person customer service, and overall safer and more efficient operations.

"The new service center is part of a continued investment to better serve customers in the Southeast Kansas and Northeast Oklahoma area," said Jeff Westfall, Director of Transmission and Distribution Operations for Liberty Central.

Liberty Utilities - Empire District, Joplin, Missouri, is a subsidiary of U.S. based Liberty Utilities Co., and headquarters for the company's Central Region, providing electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater service to nearly 320,000 customers a cross six states. A subsidiary of the company provides fiber optic services. For more information regarding services in the Empire area, visit empiredistrict.com. For more information about Liberty Utilities visit libertyutilities.com.