TOULON, Ill. (WMBD) — Stark County is moving one step closer to a system that will improve public safety.

State leaders gathered in Toulon on Friday for the groundbreaking ceremony of the county’s future emergency communications center.

“This is an important day for the public safety in Stark County,” David Tuttle, Chairperson for the Peoria County Emergency Telephone System Board, said.

Leaders said legislation from 2016 required all Illinois counties to provide 911 service, and Stark is noted for being the last county to do so.

Officials said current 911 calls made in the county can potentially be redirected to nearby counties, but this is all set to change with the addition of the communications center.

The plan is to construct it next to Stark County’s Sheriff’s Office.

Cindy Barbera-Brelle, Illinois Statewide 911 Administrator, said Stark County’s residents and visitors have previously had to dial a 10-digit number for emergencies, but they’ll soon only have to dial 911 for help.

“Instead of going back to the 10-digit numbers that they have to dial today, and they may have a different number for the Fire Department or the Fire Protection District or the Sheriff’s Office or the local Police Department, now it’s one number,” Barbera-Brelle said. “It doesn’t matter who it is.”

She said after about six years of searching for a suitable partner for this project, Stark ultimately joined the Peoria County Emergency Telephone System Board.

She also said the county received a $2.4 million dollar state grant to help fund the project.

“It’s really going to give them an opportunity to cut minutes off what can potentially be a long response,” Barbera-Brelle said.

Steven Sloan, Stark County Sheriff, said the center will have two dispatchers per shift and will also have jailers on hand.

He said the updated system will help record calls and texts, improve the radio system, and better assist with caller’s locations.

“It’s going to make it a lot better,” Sloan said. “It’s going to pinpoint the calls right where we have to go where we’re not searching.”

The plan is to start construction at the start of 2023.