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Windsor Renovation Hinges on Grant



Valley News Correspondent
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Windsor –— Plans by Southeastern Vermont Community Action to renovate a vacant Main Street building for a Head Start program hinges on approval of a large federal grant which, when added to a $15,000 grant awarded this week from the state of Vermont, would provide roughly $315,000 for the project.

SEVCA Executive Director Steve Geller said on Tuesday his agency hopes to hear soon whether the construction grant from the federal Head Start program is approved. Head Start helps promote the health and development of pre-school children from low-income families and make them ready for school.

Geller said the money would cover everything from purchase of the 4,300-square-foot building at the corner of Bridge and Main streets in Windsor to renovation, permitting, legal fees and construction management.

“We have asked for about $300,000,” Geller said.

Even if SEVCA doesn’t receive the full amount, Geller said, the nonprofit would consider financing the balance needed through a mortgage but that would depend on the amount received.

On Monday, the Vermont Department of Building and General Services awarded SEVCA a $15,000 grant from its Vermont Building Communities program. If everything goes according to plan, SEVCA anticipates it will be able to open the new space in September.

Lori Canfield, who runs the Head Start program in Windsor, said in an email the program had an enrollment of 15 before the lease in the former firehouse on Main Street was not renewed in 2015. They were able to place four children with the Head Start in White River Junction, Canfield said.

“When we finally have a building back in Windsor we will be serving 15 children once again,” Canfield wrote.

After the lease expired, Geller said, they offered parents the home-based option for Head Start, but because of both parents working or a single-parent situation, they “did not have the capacity to be at home for home visits.” Transportation also was an issue for the White River Junction facility, he added.

Another piece of the grant would allow for the program in Windsor to be extended from four to six hours and from four to five days a week, Geller said.

Renovation of the building, which would include interior and exterior repairs, minor foundation work, roofing, new windows and doors, plumbing and electrical, and new bathrooms, is estimated at around $255,000.

The building is owned by the American Precision Museum, which had planned to use it for expansion, but that never worked out, Geller said.

SEVCA’s Head Start program in Windsor County serves about 100 low-income families, providing early childhood education and family support at no charge.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com