Bright future for children


By Melanie Speicher
[email protected]

SIDNEY — Surrounded by dirt, the children — and several adults — dug deep to begin the addition for the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA’s Infant and Toddler Center expansion Friday.

The 7,725-square-foot addition will increase the Y’s ability to care for the county’s children while their parents are working by more than 90 additional children. The addition will feature three infant rooms, four toddler rooms and two additional rooms which will have the flexibility of accommodating either older toddlers or younger preschool children.

“It will also reconfigure our Child Development Center main entrance for a safer and more convenient pick up and drop off location for parents and enhanced access and safety for all of our Y’s Child Development Program participants, parents and guardians. The project also includes some renovation of existing YMCA space, which will connect to the new Infant & Toddler Center and provide Child Development Staff offices and much needed storage space,” said David O’Leary, YMCA CEO, after the ceremony.

Due to the rain drizzle, a portion of the ceremony was held inside the YMCA. Board President Craig Albers said the road to the addition’s groundbreaking has been an act of teamwork by staff, community members and businesses.

“This project has been in the works for many years,” said Albers. “Over the years so many have envisioned what the youth center should look like.

“The YMCA community continues to grow to provide child care of our community,” he said.

Albers thanked the city of Sidney, Shelby County officials, state officials, YMCA staff and corporate backers for their support of the addition.

A proclamation from the Ohio Senate and President Matt Huffman was read by Albers. Taylor Armstrong, representing Rep. Tim Barhorst, R-Fort Loramie, read the proclamation from the Ohio House of Representatives.

“There’s a lot of fantastic work being done by all the YMCAs in the 85th District,” said Armstrong. “If mom and dad don’t have daycare (for their children), then they can’t work.”

Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann thanked the YMCA for their continuing partnership with the county to provide daycare in the county. The YMCA also operates a daycare center at Fairhaven Nursing Home.

“I have two grandsons who come to the Y every day,” said Ehemann. “The county is grateful for all you do. I’m personally grateful.”

Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst said the childcare shortage isn’t just in Shelby County. He encounters the same problems when he visits other cities across the state.

“The Y keeps the children safe and healthy,” said Barhorst. “And it’s preparing them for school. The Y has a proven track record for childcare.”

Jerry Vanderhorst, capital campaign chairman, said he joined the YMCA board in 2003. At that time, the board was trying to make a decision on whether to keep the childcare program because it was operating in the red.

“As a nonprofit, we looked at it and asked ‘is it your mission or profit margin’ that mattered?” said Vanderhorst. “We decided it’s our mission to be here to support Sidney and Shelby County with childcare. The YMCA is the largest childcare provider in Shelby County.”

He said the childcare program is successful because of donations, support of the community and volunteer hours.

“We can’t do it without you,” said Vanderhorst.

Albers also thanked the board of trustees for their 40 years of dedication to childcare in Shelby County. Also acknowledged were Jay Westerheide, building property committee chair; Tori Faulder, child development director; Doug Fortkamp, president of Ferguson Construction; and Jason Stiver, vice president of Ferguson Construction.

“The YMCA staff has been unbelievable t0 work with,” said Stiver. “Ferguson has a 51 year relationship with the YMCA. We built the building in 1973. With this addition, it will go from 97,000 square feet to 104,000 square feet.”

The projected completion date for the addition is mid-December 2024, with the addition open for children in January or February 2025.

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