The New Milford Community Ambulance Barn now under construction on a corner of the old Century Brass Mill site on Aspetuck River Road is more than a milestone for the 80-year-old ambulance company.

The venture also is a shining model for other towns of the spirit of community service and cooperation.

New Milford voters had approved $3.5 million in bonding for a new facility in a referendum in the fall of 2007.

A new place obviously was needed as the then-all-volunteer company operated out of a cramped town-owned garage on Young's Field Road that lacked modern amenities. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the ambulance company to grow sufficiently to care for a large town with an increasing population.

Fortunately for the ambulance organization, the positive referendum vote nearly two years ago came before the recession hit hard.

In a spirit of cooperation and sensitive to new economic realities -- and realistic about political support -- the community ambulance volunteers offered to pay the interest of short-term borrowing for the new facility.

Further, they intend to eventually repay the entire cost of the new ambulance barn.

This is possible because the longtime volunteer company in January took the big step to hire two paid personnel to ensure full daytime coverage. And with that, the company began, albeit reluctantly, to charge for services for the first time in its long history. Both steps were necessary.

Taxpayers -- who also saw a break when the bid for work came in about $1 million lower -- benefit in every way.

They get quicker daytime response. They get a new 10,000-square-foot ambulance barn -- with official groundbreaking ceremonies a week ago -- which will include a community meeting room. And they get interest, and more, back from the ambulance company that has served so well for 80 years.

The dedicated volunteers of the New Milford Community Ambulance Corp. exemplify the best of community service.