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W.Va. employers band together to build day-care center

August 06, 2000

W.Va. employers band together to build day-care center



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Plans have been filed for a $1 million day-care center that will be built and used by nine employers in Jefferson County.

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Organizers of the project hope to break ground for the Children First Child Development Center this fall and have it open by next summer, said Cheri Sheridan, a spokeswoman for the project.

The project started last year when representatives of six companies, a hospital and two government agencies began researching the need for day-care services in the county.

They found that licensed day-care services are available to only 22 percent of Jefferson County families who need such services, Sheridan said.

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The nine employers decided to go together to build the Children First Child Development Center and make the center available to their workers and the public.

The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded a $323,328 grant to build the center, and now the Jefferson County Development Authority is putting together a $460,000 tax-exempt bond issue to help build the center.

The Jefferson County Commissioners will have to agree to issue the bond, and it will probably be submitted to them for approval within a month, said Jane Peters, director of the development authority.

Project organizers set a goal of raising $250,000 to pay for the remaining costs, and have raised about $150,000, Sheridan said last week.

About $15,000 was raised last Friday following a golf tournament at Stonebridge Golf Club in Martinsburg which was held to benefit the center, Sheridan said.

"We're on the downward coast," she said.

The day-care center will be built in the Burr Industrial Park in Bardane, where most of the nine employers are located.

The center will have a capacity for 100 children, Peters said. Separate facilities can be built on the property if the service needs to be expanded, she said.

The entrance of the center is shaped like a barn, and a silo will be built beside the building where kids can store their toys, Peters said.

"It's really a neat theme for an agricultural area. The kids will love it, which is the whole point," Peters said.

The nine employers involved in the project include Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Jefferson County Schools, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Fruit Research Station, Royal Vendors, Inc., AB&C Group, Automated Merchandising Systems, DALB, Inc., Norm Thompson and Schonstedt Instruments.

The nine organizations represent about 3,000 workers, including 700 with children.

Organizers say the center will be more than baby-sitting. The first three years are critical to a child's development, and the center will offer curriculum that will teach toddlers concepts such as how to identify shapes and characters, organizers said.

Children who get good pre-school education are less likely to commit crime or get involved in early pregnancy problems, Sheridan said.

It costs about $3,000 to give a child a pre-school education and it costs about $30,000 to rehabilitate a juvenile delinquent, Sheridan said.

"You ask me where we should be putting our money," Sheridan said.

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