Preschool coming to North Routt

Groundbreaking likely in June

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— When North Routt preschooler Newt Sherrod yelled: "Green light!" to classmates during an outdoor game Monday, he might have been yelling about plans for a new preschool.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners gave final app--roval last week to a $330,000 grant from the Colorado Dep--artment of Local Affairs, giving the green light for construction of a new Early Learning Center in North Routt that will provide care for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

"There is no care in North Routt for infants and kids under 2 -- none whatsoever," North Routt Preschool director Nancy White said.

The preschool has been housed in the historical Moonhill Schoolhouse south of Clark since its inception in 2002, White said. The center provides care for children 2 years and older from 16 families.

Renovations are limited bec--ause the schoolhouse is designated by Routt County as a historical building, White said.

"You can't change anything -- you can't even put a nail hole in the wall," she said. "There's only one bathroom, and the building is really crowded. It has been a challenge. As soon as we move out, the schoolhouse will go back into community use."

White said groundbreaking at the Early Learning Center likely will occur in late May or early June, on a 5-acre site on Routt County Road 129 in Clark. The site is on the west side of the road between North Routt Fire Station Number One and the Glen Eden Resort, less than a quarter-mile from the North Routt Community Charter School.

"We're a collaborative effort with the charter school," White said. "It will make it much easier for parents. There's potential for the charter school to grow on the property, as well."

Bob White, Nancy White's brother-in-law and director of Routt County's Department of Human Services, said the total cost of the project is $550,000. The DOLA money is a Community Development Block Grant, which Bob White said had to be funneled through a county department, such as human services, because of the money's federal source.

"Since these are federal dollars, there's a whole lot of paperwork involved," Bob White said. LIFT-UP of Routt County used a similar grant to fund its new facility west of Steamboat.

Bob White said more than $200,000 was raised for the new Early Learning Center through private donations and private grants.

Although groundbreaking dates for the center were moved back several times during the past two years, County Com--miss--ioner Doug Monger said last week that the funding approval represents "the last step" in the process.

Architect Jan Kaminski of the Mountain Architecture-Design Group in Steamboat will design the North Routt Early Learning Center. Kaminski also will design a new South Routt Early Learning Center, on a Yampa site approved Thursday by the South Routt School Board.

"The needs in Routt County for infant and toddler care are huge -- it's not just North Routt," Nancy White said.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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