Ground broken on new Head Start building

Published 8:11 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Ground was broken today at a site next to the National Guard armory for a new Head Start building.

Dorothy Foster, director of finances and administration services for Mississippi Action for Progress said the building will be a state of the art facility capable of catering to the needs of 180 children. The 14,980 square-foot building will include nine classrooms and cost about $1.3 million. That money will be provided by a grant from the Department of Human Services, Foster said.

The new Head Start facility will serve the Picayune area, which includes surrounding communities in a 20-mile radius, Foster said, including Nicholson and Carriere, said MAP Regional Administrator Cassandra Jackson.

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Bids are being sought on the new building and are expected to be turned in within one to two months, Foster said. Demolition of the existing building will have to take place before the new building can be built. She expects there to be a 120-day wait before construction of the new facility begins.

“This is the beginning of a reality for the children of Picayune to have a state-of-the-art building and to continuously provide quality education for the children in Head Start,” said Picayune City Councilman Leavern Guy.

Through the work done at Head Start, Foster said she expects children to have a smooth transition into the school system and a head start in life.

“Anybody can grow up to be a cowboy, but it’s hard to jump on a horse when it’s in full gallop,” said Pearl River County District I Supervisor Anthony Hales, “so let’s get these kids mounted at the starting gate.”

Mayor Greg Mitchell said he was proud to keep a promise that land would be available to MAP to build the new facility. The facility will provide students in head start the opportunity to attend a nice facility and prepare for the school system, Mitchell said.

“The first day I went to school, the only thing I knew was that I left my momma and daddy and I cried,” Mitchell said.

Head Start has been statistically proven to give children a head start in their schooling, said Councilman Anna Turnage.

“I know statistically the earlier you can reach a child, the better their foundation is,” Turnage said.

A cafeteria is slated to cater to the nutritional needs of the children in the Head Start Program and one council member wants to be a part of that.

“As you can tell I love to eat and I just hope I can come along with the children and get a piece of bread,” said Councilman Donald Parker.