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Alpine Children’s Center to hold 20th anniversary party

Staff reports

The Alpine Children’s Center turns 20 this month, and a gala free dinner with entertainment will be offered Monday, May 22, at Turtle Rock Park on Highway 89 between Woodfords and Markleeville.

Dinner begins at 5 p.m. with short performances by children attending the center at 5:45 p.m. Skip Veatch and Dave Zellmer will play some of the old songs heard at many a fund-raiser in the past.

“This is not a fund-raiser,” however, said Edie Veatch, executive director. “It is free. Alpine Children’s Center wants to say ‘thank you’ for giving us the opportunity to serve children and families of Alpine County for the past 20 years.”

Articles of incorporation were signed by Pat Smith, Kate Harvey and Diane Holt May 16, 1980. Other active members were Kathy Ayler, Veatch, Blanca Kralik, Angie O’Neal and the first teacher, Patty Asay.

To get the center going, Smith wrote a grant for AB 90 funds, and at an Alpine County board of supervisors meeting, she said that if the board would just fund the center $10,000 to get it started, she wouldn’t ask for anything more.

Nowadays, the center receives about $100,000 a year in grant funding administered by Alpine County.

Veatch left the project and went to work in Gardnerville, and Jeanne Turnbeaugh, Gail Day and Karen Callison-Keebaugh joined the group. Veatch returned to the board in 1986.

In 1983, Jo Daugherty, also known as Jo Jo, was hired as a part-time teacher’s aide. The program expanded into after-school child care and a new building arrived along with a latchkey program grant in 1989.

In 1990, Karen Hamann, now officer manager, was hired to help with paperwork. In 1991, Veatch was hired.

In 1993, bankruptcy came knocking at the door for various reasons and staff members were laid off and part-time children and all children under 2 had to find child care somewhere else. The Sierra Health Foundation made a grant to the center and Marge Celio, Daugherty’s mother, lent the Alpine Children’s Center money to bring a delinquent account with the state department of education current. Slowly the center worked itself out of the red.

In 1998, a community resource center was added, and in 1999, Lyn Snyder started with the home visitor program.

“Now as we enter our 20th year,” said Veatch, “we are going to try infants again. We will license for only three.”

The center is licensed for 52 children. The teachers are Connie Kizer, Daugherty and Teresa Horse, with an infant teacher and preschool aide to be hired. The cook is Tara Skenandore. A literacy program for children and adults should start in July, Veatch said.

Board members include Lynda Kirby, Karen Robinson, Lisa Walsh and Galit Williams.

For information, call the center at (530) 694-2390.