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Kids Academy moves forward with new $428,000 daycare project

Twelve months after the Kids Academy incorporated as a non-profit organization to provide quality childcare and youth activities for kids in Berthold and the surrounding communities, members are prepared to move forward on a $428,000 building project.

5/18/11 (Wed)

 

By Caroline Downs
 
Twelve months after the Kids Academy incorporated as a non-profit organization to provide quality childcare and youth activities for kids in Berthold and the surrounding communities, members are prepared to move forward on a $428,000 building project.
 
And the doors to their new child care facility are scheduled to open this fall.
 
“In a perfect scenario, it would be done by August,” said Kids Academy president Andy Fjeldahl. “The lot is ready to go and we have enough [funds] to put down deposits. The community has been very supportive.”
 
Fjeldahl and other Kids Academy board members reported on that broad support in the first annual Kids Academy membership meeting in Berthold on May 4th. After the minutes and financial report were read, Candice Asmundson reviewed plans for the new child care facility, which will sprawl across on five city lots. The 3,672-square foot building will include room for as many as 65 children with a kitchen, dining area and separate spaces for infants, toddlers, three- to five-year-olds, and an after-school program.
 
The plans include playground equipment and fencing estimated at $48,000 and indoor equipment and supplies at $35,000. The pre-fabricated building is estimated to cost $300,000, with lot preparation at $40,000. Another $5,000 has been included for miscellaneous expenses.
 
“When it’s filled to capacity, we’ll have ten employees,” Asmundson said. “Right now, we’re working with two companies on the building.”
 
Fjeldahl continued the meeting by listing individuals, businesses and organizations that have contributed to or pledged to support the Kids Academy, starting with the City of Berthold that donated three lots for the facility and Ralph “Chub” Brown, who donated two adjacent lots.
 
The City of Berthold also made a $20,000 contribution to the project. The Berthold Development Corporation donated $10,000 last year and has promised $4,000 a year for the next five years.
 
Other donors include United Agronomy at $5,000 a year for four years, Farmers Union Oil Berthold at $10,000 a year for five years, $5,000 from the Berthold Lions Club and $4,000 from the American Legion.
 
Gratech has pledged to assist with the groundwork or donate toward those costs, and Hanson’s Excavating will handle the water and sewer work. Western Ag, Western Trucking, Berthold Farmers Elevator Co. and the Renville and Powers Lake Elevator companies have already promised to assist with project expenses.
 
Fjeldahl said the Kids Academy board has applied for several grants, including the Minot Area Community Foundation, the Otto Bremer Foundation, and Wal-Mart. He just received notification of a grant award from SRT Communications for $5,000. The board also applied for a low-interest loan through a USDA Rural Development program, under the sponsorship of Verendrye Electric Cooperative, with the possibility of those funds becoming available by June 30th.
 
The board has discussed various raffles, suppers and other fundraisers for the project. “And we sent out 147 letters asking for support from local businesses,” added Fjeldahl. “We’re starting to get some feedback from those.”
 
Once the funding is in place to begin the project, Fjeldahl expected work to proceed quickly. Members asked about volunteering their assistance to do the interior finish work on the new Kids Academy building. Fjeldahl said they would be contacted as soon as that work could be started.
 
Happy with first year,
ready to grow
The Kids Academy started providing child care services last fall. Fjeldahl thanked Zion Lutheran Church for donating space for the Kids Academy to operate. He noted the cooperation of ABC Child Care Centers of Minot and coordinator LaVonne Beyerle, who hired Kim Gathman and Jessica Grotte as the supervisors for the Berthold location. Beyerle oversees the daily operation of Kids Academy, which currently holds a group license for up to 18 children.
 
“It’s been a blessing having LaVonne and ABC come out,” Fjeldahl said. “It’s been very good working with them.”
 
Beyerle is equally happy with the program in Berthold. “We didn’t come seeking this, but we’re happy to be part of the community’s growth,” she said. “To be on the ground floor of something like this is really amazing. They have some dedicated people.”
 
The Kids Academy didn’t actually begin offering child care services last year until after school started. “We opened with three full-time kids and two after-school kids,” Beyerle said. “From there it has blossomed, and we’re up to 14 kids after school now. We’re happy to provide a good learning and play environment for the children that’s happy, fun and safe.”
 
Currently, the Kids Academy is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am until 6 pm. “That’s all we need right now,” said Beyerle, “but those hours could be flexible.” In anticipation of child care needs for the summer, she has already hired part-time help.
 
Like the board members and parents, Beyerle is looking forward to moving into the new building. “They’ve done a wonderful job on the design,” she said.
 
Because of the available space, the Kids Academy will be licensed as a child care center once the new building is open. “That means we could take up to 65 kids,” said Beyerle, “but Ward County will come and walk the building once it’s finished and they’ll decide how many it will be licensed for.”
 
The demand for child care in the area remains high. “I’m even getting calls from people who are out of state and moving here,” Beyerle said. “Minot is packed full, so even some of the Minot people could drop their kids off here if they’re headed [to job sites] farther west.”
 
Donations are tax-deductible
The meeting closed after members elected Katie Fegley to a three-year term on the board, to replace outgoing board member Katie Hanson. Asmundson was re-elected to the board for a one-year term.
 
Kids Academy has also attained IRC 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization, and Fjeldahl reminded the membership that donations were tax-deductible. “Any amount is greatly appreciated,” he said, adding that $5 was as important to the group as $5,000. “And thanks to everyone for the support we’ve gotten so far.”
 
Persons interested in joining the Kids Academy or contributing toward the child care center are welcome to contact Summer Ibach at 701-453-3613 or Fjeldahl at 701-453-3514 or 701-453-3481 for more information.