NEWELL - Head Start classes will start up again in northern Hancock County now that the agency has found a new home, officials said.
Northern Panhandle Head Start Inc. will hold its classes in a multipurpose building owned by and adjacent to Glendale Church of the Nazarene, 131 Glendale Road, Newell.
The new site is the result of a months-long search that began in June, when Head Start officials learned the monthly rent at the Wells Building, the former site, was going up from $1,125 to $2,000 effective Aug. 1.
NEW HOME FOR HEAD START — Mike Dotson, a trustee at Glendale Church of the Nazarene in Newell, mows the lawn Tuesday in front of the building that will house Head Start classes for northern Hancock County. -- Stephen Huba
Head Start had been at the Wells Building since 1995, serving 40 preschool children in two classrooms with educational, developmental and nutritional programs.
The rent increase on all tenants in the Wells Building was necessitated by the rising cost of utilities and building upkeep, according to the Newell Volunteer Fire Department, which owns the building. But it was prohibitive for Head Start, forcing the agency to look elsewhere for classroom space, said Executive Director Marlene Midget.
The new Head Start school year opened Aug. 29 without a new location, so staff members have been visiting families in their homes during the transition period. The new location is expected to be ready for classes next week.
"It's a really beautiful site," Midget said, noting that Head Start wants to maintain a presence in northern Hancock County. Northern Panhandle Head Start, based in Wheeling, serves five West Virginia counties. Its other Hancock County classrooms are in Weirton.
Among the places Head Start considered moving to was the Chester Municipal Building, but it was Chester City Councilman Mike Dotson who helped make the connection with Glendale Church, Midget said. Dotson is a trustee at the church and is in charge of church grounds.
"The whole congregation came together to work on this project," Dotson said. "We just kind of stood back and watched the pieces fall into place."
The 3,000-square-foot building dates back to the 1970s, Dotson said, and has new kitchen and restroom facilities that will serve Head Start well. The main part of the building is a large multipurpose room that will act as a classroom for 20 children.
"They're going to have the whole building," Dotson said. "Their committee came out and looked at the building and were very impressed with the facilities."
A few improvements were made to the building to meet Head Start's requirements, he said.
The church will continue to use the building for various functions on weekends and days when Head Start does not occupy it, Dotson said. Rent from Head Start's use of the building will help the church cover its expenses, he said.
"We just wanted to support them in any way that we can," Dotson said, "and we're glad it worked out."
(Huba can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)