Child care facility planned for Hazen
By Daniel Arens
Again and again, surveys and discussions in town have pointed to the need for child care service as Mercer County’s top priority for drawing in and retaining young families and new workers. One group of industry, business, and professional leaders are now hoping to start meeting that need.
According to Erin Huntimer, project coordinations representative with Basin Electric and a leading figure in trying to implement child care services for the area, a new child care facility would be opened in Hazen near the beginning of 2017.
The plan is for the facility to be located in the current Coal Country Community Health Center clinic building in Hazen. The actual clinic will be relocating at the end of 2016 to its location within the new hospital.
“It’s a huge benefit to have in our communities,” said Christie Obenauer, president of the Sakakawea Medical Center board of trustees and CEO of Union State Bank.
Huntimer said the plan is to have this child care facility run on the cooperative model that has been successfully used by electricity and energy providers in the state. In this case, the parents of kids in the facility would be the owners of the cooperative, and would be able to make decisions for the facility.
The group of community leaders working to establish the facility includes, at present, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Sakakawea Medical Center, North American Coal Corporation, Union State Bank, Knife River Care Center, Coal Country Community Health Centers, Coyote Station, and Hazen Public Schools.