GI Independent: Wood River child care center project given financial boost

WOOD RIVER — Fundraising for a new development center in Wood River has gotten a big boost.

The Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center received a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

That grant and location donations that include $500,000 from the Grace and Donna Rae Koepp Foundation in Wood River puts fundraising efforts at about 60 percent of the $2 million goal. Plans are to construct a child development center in Wood River that will have a capacity to serve up to 80 children aged 6 weeks to 12 years old.

The project came about after community surveys revealed that about 50 percent of households in Wood River use child care on a regular basis and approximately a third leave the community to find that service because of the lack of availability locally.

“The Wood River community has a critical shortage of child care providers, and that will only worsen with upcoming retirements of long-time in-home providers. Parents spend far too long on waiting lists, or cobble together as many as seven different providers just to cover their work schedules,” said Elizabeth Troyer-Miller, a project volunteer.

Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center will incorporate learning to help with the growth of young children.

“This is a child development center that’s got early childhood education as one of its goals,” said Sara Arnett, volunteer development coordinator.

The play-based environment will be infused with a curriculum so children are presented with opportunities to build intellectual, verbal, emotional and cognitive skills, she said.

A preschool program for 3-year-old children will also be implemented to complement the existing preschool program through the Wood River school district.

Initial steps in developing the center included visiting child care centers in Central City, Aurora, Henderson, Shickley and Red Cloud to get ideas of what would work in Wood River, Arnett said.

The development center will be constructed on land donated by the Thelen family that is adjacent to the Wood River Aquatic Center. Construction will start on the project once the $2 million is secured.

“We’d love to cross the finish line with Go Big Give in May. We will be participating in that with the Wood River Community Centennial Foundation,” Arnett said.

A donor commitment form is available to print out from the Stick Creek Kids Facebook page. For more information about the project, send emails to or contact Arnett at (308) 380-7030.