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Published: Wednesday, 1/5/2005

Elmore: Tot-teen-elderly hangout planned

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Tots, teens, and the elderly may soon have a place in Elmore to all hang out together.

Plans are in the works to build a franchise of The Gathering Place off Rice Street near Jackson Street on 22 acres of property that the Elmore Church of God is in the process of buying from two Elmore residents.

The Gathering Place - run by Christian Childcare Inc., a non-profit corporation established in the mid 1990s - provides day care for children under the age of 5 years. Co-founders Dan and Tammi Armstrong have established a facility in Oregon for 350 children; one in Perrysburg for 300 children; and are planning a third in Elmore for about 70 children.

Day-care services are scaled back in Elmore because its franchise will be owned by the Elmore Church of God, 310 Congress St., and the facility will incorporate a day-care center, a youth complex, and an assisted living center so people from all walks of life can enjoy the facility, said the Rev. Tom Willhardt.

"We really sense a need for that in Elmore," he said. "We have been operating a day-care center for 13 years [through the church] and we feel that there's not only a definite need for day care, but we also feel there's a need for a state-of-the-art youth center."

Pastor Willhardt said church officials have given a down payment for the land and are in the process of purchasing the rights and the design to build The Gathering Place in Elmore.

"It will be a unique design," Mr. Armstrong said. "The building will be half child care, separated by a playroom, and the other side will have the elderly care in it."

He said there will be room for 30 older adults, who will reside at the facility. There will also be a video-game section for teenagers to hang out after school along with the child care sections.

"It's more reflective of a community," Mrs. Armstrong said.

Pastor Willhardt said funding for the land is coming from the church, and church officials are applying for grants and are looking to other efforts to raise funds needed to build the 20,000 to 30,000-square-foot facility, which Mr. Armstrong said would cost about $4 million.

Church officials offer child care at the church, but want to move their day-care services to the new facility so the different age groups can interact with each other.

Village council recently approved rezoning the property to planned business park so the facility could be built there, fiscal officer Robin Damschroder said.

Pastor Willhardt said he hopes that they will be breaking ground for the facility by spring.



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