Southside Early Childhood Center moving to larger facility

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Huge concrete walls floated over the new site of the 128-year-old Southside Early Childhood Center Wednesday.

“They showed us how they designed and built the walls on the ground and explained the tilt-up process,” said agency board member Katy Wittwer.  “I didn’t believe it would look like this.”

She looked at four of the walls standing just five days after the board’s hard-hat tour of the construction site.  Wittwer said she is excited the larger facility could help more low-income and disabled children get a jump on their education.

“We are able to provide some wonderful early-childhood education for some families that really do deserve and need.”

“I didn’t realize that they had been here for over a hundred years in the community,” said Rhodey Construction Site Supervisor Jason Nipper.  “And, I think it’s a privilege to be a part of this site.”

This was his first time supervising a tilt-up. He watched crews attach cables to a 98,000-pound concrete wall.  The largest was 106,000 pounds.

“We’re going to use this 300-ton crane sitting here behind us,” he pointed to the gargantuan machine that took up a lane of traffic on Jefferson Avenue at Russell Boulevard.  “And, we’ve got the guys here from Fenix [Construction Company] that will be using the crane to pick the wall up and we will set in place.”

Crews looked to the sky as the cables on the crane tightened and the wall started to tilt away from the street.  A few blocks away, the school continued to teach kids at their soon-to-be old facility.  One of the graduates included Steven Gasior, Jr.

“It gave him the head-start, the keys to success,” said Steven Gasior, Sr., a laborer working on the new center.

Steven, Jr. is now an industrial machinist.  His proud father controlled traffic and kept the crew safe, as the two-story concrete slab rotated in the air.  Workers on the ground guided it into place, ready to hold another generation of little ones needing a head-start in life.

“Oh, it’s great,” Steven, Sr. looked at the new site and remembered his son’s old school.  “It was a little-bitty old building, just kind of run down.  It needed TLC.  They got it today.”

The new facility should be complete in time for the first day of school, 2014.  Board members hoped the extra capacity will help more low-income and disabled children move from the wait list into classrooms.  The board states while certain costs for the new facility were underwritten by the state of Missouri, donors raised much of the $3.5-million for the project.

 

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