March 19, 2001 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The Kids Club Day Care Center has found a site for a new home, but it will be about 1 years before the new building welcomes students.

If all comes into place as planned, a $600,000 center should open by September 2002, said Margaret Davidson of Community Connection, which operates the center.

The program, serving children from kindergarten-age through sixth grade, has to move from its present space in Willow School by September because the school needs the space, Davidson said.

So the center is searching for a temporary home for about a year.

Also high on the agenda is continued fund-raising, including grant writing

and local drives.

The new site is a 42,000-square- foot lot just shy of an acre at the corner of Hall Street and East O Avenue, just across the street from the ball fields and playground at Willow School.

The new facility will enable the center to expand from serving 32 children to up to 75. The staff of three will be expanded to nine as needed.

A building of 4,930-square-feet is planned, providing grants can be secured.

The new building will be big enough to provide a full-day kindergarten, with 20 students and two staff people. The next step would be a preschool class for 15 students and four staff.

Construction plans call for off-street parking, a drop-off area for drivers and a 6-foot fence around the yard area. There will be various playground areas and

equipment outside.

The building will have a large general area for playing, eating, watching videos and carrying on various projects two classrooms, a kitchen, an office, storage and bathrooms.

Davidson said plans call for adding a small gymnasium.

The center, started in 1995, accepts full-time and drop-in students. Without a new home, it likely would go out of existence, leaving only two other similar operations in La Grande.

No existing buildings fit the needs of the center, said Davidson, which is making it hard to find even a temporary home.

I hope we could find a temporary home in a school or a church or some other


Fund-raising will entail writing a number of grants, including a $160,000 challenge grant to the Meyer Memorial Trust,.

While the site is selected, it has not been purchased. Community Connection has an 18-month option on the property, Davidson said, and we are writing grants to get the money to buy the land.

Kids Club is a state-certified day care center. It is open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on regular school days and has extended hours on early-release days. Hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on holidays and vacation breaks and from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer.

There is a need for all-day care for some children, and we want to look at adding service for preschoolers, Davidson said.

The center offers a variety of childrens activities including arts , crafts and science projects, expressive and dramatic plays and field trips.