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Published: Wednesday, 9/28/2005

Elmore: Youth/senior village gains with grant

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A proposed facility for the young and old in Elmore is expected to become reality now that a $200,000 state grant has been awarded to Ottawa County for an economic development project.

The funds will be used for street improvements for a non-profit organization to bring a franchise of the Gathering Place to the village. The unique facility will incorporate elderly assisted-living adjacent to a youth complex and day-care center.

The grant was awarded through the Ohio Department of Development's Small Cities Community Development Block Grant's Discretionary Grant Program.

"It's been a dream for a handful of people, and it's finally coming to the point that we have a building to construct," Mayor Lowell Krumnow said. "It's a unique combination, no doubt. It will definitely be a jewel for the community."

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 and run by the Elmore Church of God, 310 Congress St., said the Rev. Tom Willhardt.

He said church officials have bought 12 acres off Rice Street just south of Jackson Street with an option to buy 10 in the next five years for the $5.2 million project that's expected to generate 23 jobs.

The facility will be a two-story, 37,000-square-foot building with independent living units for the elderly on one end, and a youth and child-care center at the other. The older generation would have the opportunity to have contact with the younger generation if they choose, Pastor Willhardt said.

"Our intentions are for, in time, to incorporate those who live in the assisted living to help with the children in day care," he said. "Our finding is a lot of the elderly either don't have any grandchildren or they live out of state."

Mayor Krumnow said he's been asked numerous times for an assisted-care facility, and more activities for youth, and is pleased that the Gathering Place will fulfill both needs. "It's so much better when you can partner up with someone who has an idea that is a strong need and desire for your local community," he said.

Officials are planning to break ground for the facility in the spring if they receive a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the project, Pastor Willhardt said. Construction is expected to take about a year.



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