New Location Concerns Some

1 decade 10 months 1 week ago Friday, August 10 2007 Aug 10, 2007 Friday, August 10, 2007 11:23:31 PM CDT August 10, 2007 in News
First Chance is an organization that helps children get ready for kindergarten, and it is moving the Lend and Learn Program from Parkade Plaza to Wilkes Boulevard. The location is just across from Bocomo Bay, a store that sells pornography and other items.

Lend and Learn allows parents and children to borrow educational toys and games. Ralph Rodeman uses the program when his grandchildren come in town.

"As a grandparent, you don't have to buy them and have a whole house full of toys you end up giving away for a quarter at a garage sale," said Rodeman. "It's great. I just hope more people use it."

Rodeman and his son have used the program for the past six years at Parkade Plaza.

Some feel like the new location is too close for comfort. First Chance chose the new location partly because the rent is cheap in the area, and the non-profit organization is low on funding. The new building is also closer to the low-income families first chance targets.

"No, it's not ideal," said Cande Iveson, First Chance Interim Director. "But if you really want to be where you meet the families you're targeting, then sometimes you have to pick a place that's not ideal."

Bocomo Bay has been on Wilkes and Fay for 15 years.

"We're people just like everyone else," said John Hawkins of Bocomo Bay. "And we're a business just like any other business. We have a professional sign up above, and then a painted name in the windows. But otherwise, they can't really see anything at all."

Even with the move, Rodeman isn't worried about the new neighbors.

"Give the people a chance to be here and protect their territory," said Rodeman. "And see what happens. And be concerned, and be watchful. I think it'll be fine. I don't have a problem with bringing my grandson here. I really don't."

First Chance is funded by private donations and state and federal funding. State funding is administered by the Boone County Community Partnership. The partnership has threatened to pull $300,000 in grant money from First Chance because of the new location. State money accounts for about one quarter of the organization's $1.5 million budget. The First Chance board is prepared to deal with any concerns that may arise.

A new Lend and Learn library opens on August 21st.

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