Chaffee County commissioners heard a report during their Monday work session from Janine Pryor about the Chaffee County Early Childhood Council and its progress in 2018.

Pryor said the council, which was established by state statute, has three priority goals:

• Chaffee County families have adequate access to quality child care, especially for infants and toddlers.

• Chaffee County children have the supports they need to start school ready to learn.

• Children in Chaffee County are in safe and nurturing environments.

In a handout to the commissioners, Pryor reported that the council helped 778 families in Chaffee County, and 824 children 5 years old or younger participated in partner programs.

Pryor said one of the projects the council has been working on was more child care centers, focusing on the three prongs of facility, staff and financial viability.

She said one of the “stumbling blocks” they have run into was that many child care centers could be run out of homes if not for homeowners association rules against home businesses.

Pryor said they have been working on a project in Poncha Springs, which was described in the story “Moms form Childcare Initiative” in the March 26 Mountain Mail.

Commissioners also met with representatives from Salida-area Parks, Open-Space and Trails (SPOT), Salida School District and the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) to discuss the future of the Valley View schoolhouse on CR 140.

School District Superintendent David Blackburn said the district was willing to donate the historical school building to the county, with approval from the school board.

Donna Rhoads said SPOT is in the process of applying for grants to finish work on the schoolhouse.

The first grant, for $250,000, will be from the State Historical Fund and used to work on the building itself.

A second grant for $200,000 will be a Department of Local Affairs Tier 1 grant, for the rest of the project.

Dominique Naccarato said GARNA would be interested in leasing the building from the county to use as an office and teaching facility.

Commissioner Greg Felt said the easiest thing might be to loan it to GARNA for a minimal price and have that group be responsible for maintenance and upkeep, so the county wouldn’t have to allocate either new or existing county personnel to the project.

Since it was a work session, the commissioners agreed to put the item on the May 7 regular meeting agenda for a more formal discussion and possible vote.

Commissioners also heard reports from department heads, including landfill, Human Services, Public Health, Building and Planning, Office of Housing and the county coroner.

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