Child care center gets thumbs up |

Child care center gets thumbs up

Tamara Miller

EDWARDS – The Board of County Commissioners decided Tuesday to spend $180,000 more than planned to build a child care and community center in Miller Ranch. The board’s decision means crews can break ground on the facility this week. The county had budgeted $2.6 million for the Berry Creek Child Care Center, but found out last week it would cost about $2.8 million. The contractor, R.A. Nelson, had not included items like the cost of hooking up utilities and architect fees in the original estimate.Commissioner Tom Stone stopped short of endorsing the new budget, but did not blame the contractor for the increase in price. “It was a communication problem,” he said. The budget for the project has grown over the past two years as the boards’ ideas for the project have gotten bigger. In 2003, the board budgeted $1 million for a child care center, then another $500,000 was added. Last year the board the decided to add a second floor with office space and a community room that could be rented out to the public. That added another $1.1 million to the project, reaching the $2.6 million budget they have now. Apparently that wasn’t quite enough.The board spent last week trying to whittle down some of the project’s costs with the contractor and the architect, Doug DeChant of Shepherd Resources, Inc. But it became clear that any major changes, such as eliminating a formal second entryway, would require new drawings and delay ground-breaking. Breaking ground soon is a priority, Commissioner Arn Menconi has said. Demand for child care in Eagle County far outweighs the amount of slots available. According to an Eagle County survey, only 30 percent of children that age with both parents working are in child care. The only thing outweighing the demand for child care in Eagle County may be the demand for child care professionals. Recruiting staff for the Berry Creek Child Care Center will be difficult because there aren’t enough qualified child care professionals in Eagle County to go around, said Kathleen Forinash, the county’s health and human services director. Crews are expected to break ground on the highly anticipated child care and community center this week. The county is building the facility in Edwards’ Miller Ranch.It’s not expected to open until February 2006, but county officials already have an “interest” list of 119 for just 80 slots. Eagle County will own the building, but county commissioners have decided to tap a nonprofit, the Eagle Valley Child Care Association, to run the center. The association was formed by the county, the Town of Vail. The association already operates the Vail Child Care Center.John Power, the human resources director for Vail, said finding qualified, reliable staff for Vail’s child care facility was difficult. Eventually, enough qualified employees were found, but many were foreign workers. The same will probably happen for the Berry Creek Child Care Center, he said. That’s why recruitment will start soon, Forinash said. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or, Colorado

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