Bluefield parents concerned a childcare staple will be dissolved

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BLUEFIELD, WV (WVVA) The City of Bluefield is facing a $750,000 loss in tax revenue and according to city manager, Dane Rideout, it’s time for the city to make some budget cuts.

“I’m literally sitting down and going to the police department going, ‘Okay, what can you reduce?’ ‘Okay fire department, what can you reduce?'” said Rideout.

It’s the Parks and Recreation department that’s facing one of the most emotional reductions. The city needs money and according to Rideout, the Herb Sims Center was costing $50,000 a year.

The Herb Sims Center is home to youth basketball, after school care and summer childcare programs for children.

The future of some of those programs may now be blurred.

The city reached out to Bluefield College and together, they are working on a 10 year lease agreement of the Herb Sims Center. According to Rideout, the college will take over responsibility of the youth basketball league.

According to a Bluefield College press release to WVVA News,

“The auditorium will provide additional practice space for Bluefield College’s athletic programs and can also be used for student recreational purposes. Bluefield College values community relationships, and per the draft agreement, the City will retain exclusive use and possession of the two-story extension on the west end of the building. This portion provides facilities used for after-school and summer day camp programming.”

Parents are concerned that losing the building will result in the loss of a childcare program that many families rely on throughout the year.

Cindy Watson, a foster parent that has been using the Parks & Rec childcare program for years said, “What am I going to do? My parents are deceased. I don’t have any family here. This is my support. This is how I do foster care because I depend on them.”

Sally French says there are no other programs available for her son. “Hunter is autistic. Even though his age is 15, he’s prohibited from going to a regular day care because of his age. This is the only program we’ve found that has been able to accommodate and work with us with Hunter’s disability.”

Rideout says they are actively searching for a replacement location, but parents are concerned a new space will not be found before school begins in a matter of weeks.

Rachel Anderson

Rachel Anderson

Multimedia Journalist

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