Rifle’s Summit Preschool gets community support | PostIndependent.com

Rifle’s Summit Preschool gets community support

Mike McKibbin
Rifle Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” The clock is ticking as Rifle’s Summit Preschool and Child Care continues to try to raise a half million dollars for a down payment on a new building in less than a month, and community support has been strong, according to the day care’s administrator.

That support includes Rifle photographer Karen Skelly, who has offered to donate all her portrait sitting fees to Summit through the end of July.

“It just seemed like so many people would be affected by something like this,” Skelly said. “There aren’t too many options if you want to find day care, so I just thought it was good to help out.”

Summit has 155 children enrolled and has until Aug. 1 to raise $500,000 and close on the purchase of the former Emily Griffith center, north of Rifle, and five acres of land. The lease the center has with the Fellowship of the Rockies Church on Railroad Avenue will not be renewed when it expires at the end of October, Wagner said.

Community support such as Skelly’s has helped, she said.

“We have a lot of people working behind the scenes,” Wagner said. “We’re still talking with the bank, and I’ve had a great response from the parents, so we’ll see what happens.”

Summit meets the criteria for a federal loan guarantee of almost $3 million to qualify for a loan, said P.J. Howe with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program office in Grand Junction.

“The guarantee is to help banks make loans to these types of organizations,” he said.

Summit is incorporated as a nonprofit agency.

While Wagner has said banks seem reluctant to lower the down payment cost on a mortgage despite the federal guarantee, Howe said he doesn’t think banks are any more cautious than usual.

“We’ve talked to quite a few banks down there and they’ve made a few loans available to some of these groups,” he said. “I think it’s just that the more equity you have, the more comfortable they feel making a loan.”

Wagner said she is still working with Wells Fargo Bank in Rifle, where District Manager Marcia Kent said the bank “continues to try to investigate every avenue we have” to help Summit.

“I can’t talk about the specifics, but things like public financing and the Community Reinvestment Act are the types of things we look at,” she said. “We know it’s a much-needed service in the community.”

Howe said the USDA guarantee has helped hospitals and similar entities obtain loans across the nation.

“It helps banks minimize their losses if the loan holder defaults somewhere down the road,” he said.

If a bank does offer a loan to Summit, Howe said the USDA would review it and decide if the guarantee could be applied.

“They meet the criteria, so it’s there,” he said.

Wagner is also raising funds through a “Kids Rock” program, where those who donate between $1,000 to $5,000 will have a brick, engraved with their name, installed in the walkway to the new center.

Sales of cookbooks with 200 recipes, prepared by Summit’s children and parents, are on sale for $10 to raise funds for the project, too, Wagner said.

“We really appreciate what everyone has been doing,” she said. “I think this could work out in about a million different ways that I never thought of. I’ve lived in Rifle for about 15 years and this town always pulls together to make miracles work.”

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