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Child center at FLC gets $1.5 million

December 22, 2001

By Jennifer Reeder
Special to the Herald

The U.S. Senate approved a spending bill Friday that includes $1.5 million for a new building at the Child Development Center at Fort Lewis College.

The $11 billion bill now heads to President Bush, who is expected to sign it, said a spokesman for Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo.

"Needless to say, we’re ecstatic about it," Fort Lewis President Kendall Blanchard said.

"This facility is going to be wonderful because of its comprehensive nature," Blanchard said. "On one hand, it will provide child care for people who may not be able to afford it. On the other hand, it provides intern and research possibilities for students in Early Childhood Development."

Campbell requested the $1.5 million. The funds are included in an appropriations bill for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments and related agencies for fiscal 2002, which began Oct. 1. The bill passed 90-7 in one of Congress’ final votes before a holiday recess.

The money will go toward a new multipurpose building to serve families and children ages 1 to 5, said Cheryl Clay, an associate professor in the teacher education department at FLC and faculty liaison to the center. The center now accepts 2½- to 5-year-olds.

The building also will provide an observation site for students in psychology, sociology, exercise science and teacher education, and training for people who work in early childhood care and education, Clay said.

The building will consist of two classrooms for college students, one of which will have a one-way mirror for parents to observe their children. The building will include state-of-the-art technology, including audio and video capability, Clay said.

The center is open to the children of students, faculty members and area residents. Children with disabilities are integrated into the classrooms, Clay said.

"I’m thrilled, predictably," Clay said. "This facility will be a clear demonstration of the commitment of FLC to the early education of children and to the training of teachers to work with children. It will have long-lasting impacts on our community."

With the new building, the center will be able to double the number of children it supervises to 60, from 30, Clay said.

Bob Dolphin, vice president of business and finance at FLC, applauded Clay’s fund-raising efforts, which included raising about $500,000 from individuals and foundations.

The school also received a Community Development Block Grant for about $250,000, Dolphin said.

Dolphin said the $1.5 million is the last component of funding for the current phase of the center project.

"Without Senator Campbell’s help, we wouldn’t have been able to accept the grant and would have had to return the donations," Dolphin said.

The center is in the first phase of the project, which involves spending roughly $2 million to construct the new building, connect it to the existing adjacent center and give the existing center modest renovations.

In the second phase, several years away, another new section will be added to the new center, and the old center will be torn down.

Dolphin said construction could begin in nine to 12 months.

Blanchard said, "We’re extremely grateful to the senator and his wife for their help."

Campbell and his wife, Linda, are former teachers. Mrs. Campbell retired last year as a teacher in Ignacio, Campbell’s office said.


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