Riverland child care expansion on schedule

Published 11:22 am Friday, January 11, 2013

Joe Mullenbach of The Joseph Company installs wood blocking for cabinets at the construction site for the Apple Lane Child Care Center Thursday afternoon. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

About four months after more than a dozen students from the Apple Lane Child Care Center dug their shovels into the ground, Apple Lane’s new Riverland location is well on its way to being complete.

“It’s coming along very well,” said Carter Wagner, president of The Joseph Company. “We’re on schedule.”

Despite still being less than 50 percent complete, work done so far on the Applelane Child Care Center shows just how big the facility will be when completed.

The 17,000-square-foot Early Childhood Education Center expansion is on the southwest corner of the Riverland Community College West building in Austin. The expansion should be finished and ready for child care to begin in late May.

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“They’re doing a lot of steel beaming right now,” Wagner said. “The scope of work called for us to completely remove the existing walls and concrete floor in the former diesel mechanic school.”

Now that part is done, and crews have poured a new floor slab and begun to sort out plumbing and electrical utilities. They are working on framing walls to form the new addition.

“It’s starting to look like something,” Wagner said.

The finished expansion will have three rooms each for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers, along with one Montessori. There will be separate exterior exits out of each daycare classroom, which Wagner said serve a dual purpose.

“It’s not only a code requirement for safety and emergency egress, but most of the classrooms exit out into an outdoor play area,” he said.

There will also be an indoor play area.

The expansion converts 17,000 square feet of Riverland’s West building to house the childhood center, which will serve about 200 full-time care and 200 part-time care children ages 5 and younger. An additional 3,000 square feet of landscaping and parking improvements on the southeast corner of the west campus are also part of the project.

Riverland, in partnership with Hormel Foods Corp. and The Hormel Foundation, secured more than $3 million for the project.

While Apple Lane’s services will expand to include more of a pre-school curriculum as well as improvements across the board, Apple Lane Executive Director Shannon Hart said at the project’s October groundbreaking she hopes to partner with Riverland educators to bring early childhood education students from the college to work under internships and mentorships.

“You can really see the commitment of the community to education,” she said. “It’s all about the people, after all.”

— Trey Mewes contributed to this report.