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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- A day-care center that had been shut down for nearly two weeks is reopening Monday under new ownership, a new name and an established provider.

Cedar Falls resident Mary Sires, who has owned the Learn & Play Preschool in Evansdale for 14 years, has taken over the lease vacated by the former Cradles 2 Crayons, 4710 Cedar Heights Drive.

Cradles 2 Crayons, which had operated since January 2008, shut down suddenly Aug. 8 former proprietor Nicol Geving having said she had sold the business to an unidentified buyer.

The deal fell through, Sires said, adding that she decided she felt a need to step in and fill the void that instantly left about 60 children ages 6 weeks through school age without a place to go.

"I saw it on the news and I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to open it back up and help those families," Sires said Thursday. "I live in Cedar Falls, and I know there's a huge need for day care. I feel I have my other day care center running pretty smoothly and just felt I could handle that at that time."

As of Thursday, several of the 18 staffers who had been with Cradles 2 Crayons, have agreed to return to the school when Learn & Play opens up Monday, Sires said.

"There will be a lot of familiar faces for the families," Sires said.

The phone number, 266-7944, has not changed, either.

Sires said she wants to duplicate the program she has at her Evansdale center, which has about 70 families enrolled.

She also is working on a checklist of things that need to be done at the daycare.

"We go beyond the DHS standards, so there's a lot of things I check on to make sure the girls are doing."

Sires' sister, Tara Smith, is director of the Evansdale center and will take on increased responsibilities, as Sires gets the Cedar Falls business up and running. For the moment, Sires will direct the Cedar Falls facility, but she may bring in a permanent supervisor in the near future.

"We've had a lot of interest, a lot of phone calls" Sires said. "Today, I'm going to get the paperwork ready, so if parents want, they can stop in and pick up a packet."

Sires said she thought the Cedar Falls center would have a full clientele and wants to offer them a family-home style atmosphere.

"We will strive to make this center feel like a family but yet we still go above and beyond, and we participate in Iowa Quality Ratings System," she said.

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