The BCDC did an official ribbon cutting ceremony on December 11th using the official Mercer County Chamber of Commerce city scissors. This ceremony celebrated the great achievement of opening a new daycare and preschool center in the Shenango Valley.
Childhood Development Director Kelly Caruso with many years of experience was just what the Buhl Club family needed to get the preschool and daycare back and running. The BCDC has been a huge project for the Buhl Club for the past year and we couldn’t have done it without the communities support.
Please copy link below to read the Sharon Herald article about this event or read the contents of the article below:
SHARON — Adults in suits gathered around the Buhl Club’s newly opened child center, but year-old McKenzie Mayne seemed less concerned with matters like history and construction and more with toys as she walked through the classrooms.
McKenzie is a student at the Buhl Child Development Center, which held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday night. Her grandmother, JoAnn Lewis, also of Sharon, takes classes at the Buhl Club, too, but hers revolve around Zumba and Pilates three days a week instead of ABC’s.
However, having her granddaughter’s day care in the same building was very appealing, Lewis said.
Besides the central location, Lewis added McKenzie was initially shy around the other students and a little more than hesitant to be around so many new kids. This quickly passed though, as Lewis said the staff at the center made sure to ease Mayne into her new surroundings.
“They acclimated her to it,” she said.
Lewis, and her daughter and granddaughter, are among 28 families with children in the center, which started classes in October. Monday night’s ceremony provided an opportunity for first-time donors and community members could see exactly how much renovation had been completed since construction began in April, said Kelly Caruso, director of childhood programs.
About 40 people — including McKenzie her mother and her grandmother — took advantage of that chance.
The renovation, which allows people to use the ornate mahogany main door for the first time in more than 40 years, resulted in a great change, although Caruso said it wasn’t initially obvious.
She said progress was difficult to notice because of how much unseen work was being done, such as electrical or plumbing. But the last two months of work showed the most progress as the old library, racquetball court and other unused space began to take shape, turning into classrooms for toddlers, preschoolers and school age that blended modern design with the the center’s vintage appearance.
“Every day there was a “wow” moment,” Caruso said.
Corey Herbert, owner of CEH Construction, was the contractor in charge of turning the space into classrooms safe for children that could pass state standards. Many of the challenges arose from the old style of construction, as the recreation center was first built in 1903. This included the now-beautiful marble floor, which was originally set on a wooden floor, a layer of dirt and a layer of mortar.
“Each piece of marble had a different thickness,” Herbert said.
Caruso, who is also Herbert’s fiancee, called the marble work, “a labor of love.”
“You have to have a place for the kids,” he said.
The center is the result of about two years’ worth of planning, Buhl Club Executive Director Jason Kmick said. When he was hired in December 2015, Kmick said the board conducted a study that found that the local area not only had a need for child care services, but the recreation center had the space to provide it.
After more than $300,000 in donations and fundraising, the classrooms were ready for children and the front doors could be opened again for the first time in decades. Previously, the doors and entryway were unusable, Herbert said.
The main doors are important symbolically not just for renovating the Buhl Club but also helping to reinvigorate downtown Sharon, Kmick said.
“Because the doors are working now, we can have families and kids walking up and down State Street,” he said.