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by Patty Cheffey
Stating there is a crisis for child care in Marion County, a local childcare provider, who has been in business for 25 years, has requested American Rescue Program (ARP) funds from the Marion County Commission.
Jennifer Miller, owner of the Grow and Learn Daycare in Hannibal, is requesting $313,937 to construct a new facility to add 24 children, and to purchase a 2021 30 passenger vehicle for hands-on learning experiences.
In addition Monday, the commissioners signed paperwork on several items.
“Marion County is in a crisis due to the lack of childcare for working families,” said Miller in her presentation to the commissioners, noting several daycares have closed due to COVID or reduced the number of children they are now taking.
“One of Hannibal’s licensed exempt facilities, Carpenters Kids, closed and did not reopen, having a capacity of 99 children,” she noted. “The Palmyra community has no openings for infant/toddler and two-year-olds. Several home daycares in this area have closed and not reopened.”
In making her request, Miller noted the economic impact the lack of daycares has on a recovering economy.
“Parents are wanting to return to work, but cannot because there is a lack of spots open for infant/toddlers and two-year-olds,” she said. “With this expansion grant, Ready to Grow will be able to care for 24 children, and this will make a tremendous impact on the community.”
Kathy Nicholson, Palmyra R-I’s Parents as Teachers coordinator, accompanied Miller in making her request and noted Miller is using what she has and has already received $200,000 in matching funds for equipment and supplies.
Miller did note she would appreciate any support she could receive from the county, but that she plans to pursue the new facility one way or the other.
While the commissioners would not voice an exact amount, Eastern District Commissioner Larry Welch said they would be willing to help in some capacity.
In a related matter, the commissioners signed the paperwork to give the Douglass Community Services the $500,000 they approved for their new facility.
Although it appeared recently as though the county could not use ARP money as matching funds for other federal grants, a letter from the Mark Twain Regional Council of Government said the Community Development Block Grant attorneys have said ARP money could be used as matching funds for that grant. Douglass Community Services have also applied for a CDBG and needed the $500,000 from the county as matching funds.
Several items will still need to be done on the county’s end before funds can be turned over, including having a fair housing ordinance and a procurement policy.
County Clerk Valerie Dornberger said she would be looking at those.
The commissioners also signed paperwork for the County Road 402 bridge project after receiving concurrence from MoDOT to use Bleigh Construction for the project.
They also approved and signed the amended resolution for the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In addition, the commissioners signed an agreement with the city of Hannibal concerning turning over the county’s portion of Shinn Lane to Hannibal.