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Beale Air Force Base opens child development center
To see more images of Beale Air Force Base's new child development center, go to http://www.appeal-democrat.com/sections/slideshow/?id=13374004
Judging by the bank of television screens at Beale Air Force Base's new child development center, one might say the base's key mission of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance extends to keeping an eye on nap time.
But the base officials who dedicated the new center on Monday saw it differently: With reassurance their little ones are being taken care of, those stationed and working at the base can keep their minds on duty.
"You can tell the people are happier when they come to work, and that translates into how they do their job," said Maj. Emily Richards, of the 940th Air Force Support Squadron at Beale.
Richards' 16-month-old son occupies one of 285 spots — up from 175 — the center has for programs and day care to serve children from infants to 5 years old.
See a slide show of the child development center at http://www.appeal-democrat.com/sections/slideshow/?id=13374004
In a brief ceremony before a ribbon cutting — though the center has already been up and running a few weeks — speakers described the journey to build the $15 million center as more than laying bricks and mortar.
"I contend building this is the easy part," said the 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Paul H. McGillicuddy. "Asking is just the beginning."
Visits by state elected officials in the last decade, followed by intense lobbying by members of the base's liaison committee, helped convince purse holders in Washington, D.C., to put a new child development center at Beale at the top of the to-do list, he and others said.
Retiring U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, was in attendance and recalled the previous center as not only too small and antiquated, but having serious building issues that made it dangerous to keep using.
The new 37,566-square-foot center is aimed at easing worries for parents. In addition to cameras in every classroom and the television screens, the center has every classroom's outdoor exit lead to a dedicated, age-appropriate playground, still being built.
As well, it's about 10 minutes closer on the base to where most personnel work during the day, a relief for parents like Capt. Christi Opcesko of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Protocol.
"There's definitely more peace of mind," she said, who has children ages 4 and 2 at the center. "Now, I know I can come over and have lunch with them."
While leading tours of the new center, director Donna Greist pointed out features such as low-flush toilets, lots of natural light and environmentally friendly construction materials. Such characteristics gave the building a "sliver" status, the third-highest possible, under federal standards for "green" buildings.
Greist said the new center's best attribute, though, is what it'll take away from: A waiting list.
"We can all keep them under our wing here," he said.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.