Marine Corps Depot unveils new child care center in Beaufort

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 27, 2012 

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It was the little things that caught Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds' eye Friday as she toured her base's new child-development center.

"Some of the doors don't have hinges so the kids' fingers don't get pinched in there. They have little toilets in the restrooms so they don't fall in. They have heated floors so when the toddlers are crawling around, the floors are warm," Reynolds said. "They have thought of everything."

Reynolds, the commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, was one of about 40 people who helped unveil the depot's new $8.4 million child care facility.

The 27,775-square-foot center will provide full-day, part-day and hourly child care for Marines, sailors and Defense Department civilian employees who work at Beaufort's three military bases.

"This is a huge day for us," Reynolds said. "Taking care of families is a huge priority for us. We recruit Marines but we retain families, and facilities like this allow our Marines and sailors the peace of mind of knowing their families are taken care of so they can go out and do what they have to do to complete the mission."

The center contains 16 classrooms and can accommodate 250 children, about 85 more children than the base's old center, officials said.

Gary Cassevah, director of Marine Corps Community Services, called the new facility "a miracle."

"The job of the engineers and all of the people who built this facility is almost done, but our job is just beginning," Cassevah said. "... What we do here will help the drill instructors and the other Marines and sailors here do what they do best -- make Marines."

Engineers outfitted the building with more than 1,000 solar panels, installed a geothermal heat pump, used recycled materials to build the playgrounds, and installed other features to make the building eco-friendly and energy-efficient, base officials said.

Despite being open from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, the center's energy costs are expected to be only about $33 a year.

"When you consider all of the hot-water needs and all of the activity going on in this facility, that's quite phenomenal," Reynolds said.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/OnBaseBeaufort.

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