REINBECK — As workers put the finishing touches on chain-link fencing for a new outdoor play area, Robin Moore opened a window from inside the new addition — a baby room — and marveled at the changes taking place.
“There’s so much room,” said Moore, the director of Little Rebels Learning Center in Reinbeck. “I’ve ordered the soccer goals and other things for them to be able to run off some energy.”
The outdoor play areas are the icing on top of the day care center’s latest 3,000-square-foot addition, ensuring plenty of space for the 167 children from infants up to age 12, plus room for growth.
It’s a big deal for Moore and her team. But it’s a huge deal for Reinbeck, according to city leaders.
“We see it as the future of Gladbrook-Reinbeck schools,” said David Hill, superintendent of the district. “Having access to high-quality day care, it can give you opportunity for growth or limit your growth.”
Hill’s not just waxing poetic: His district has put their money where their mouth is, ponying up over the years to help fund Little Rebels — located not coincidentally next to Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary School on Cedar Street — to the tune of $480,000 over the years.
The city of Reinbeck has also put in $480,000, and the community — including grants from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association and the McElroy Trust — has funded $480,000.
It’s money well spent, said Reinbeck City Councilmember and mayor pro tem Nathan Ragsdale.
“That’s why our houses sell so quickly,” Ragsdale said. “We’re proud to have something like this.”
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The day care began after a real estate agent came to Reinbeck’s community development board, complaining of families not wanting to buy houses in the city because of a lack of child care, said Chris Frischmeyer, senior vice president of Lincoln Savings Bank.
“After that meeting, two of us were appointed to investigate what it takes to start a day care,” Frischmeyer said.
The day care opened in 2008 with just five kids and an initial investment of $600,000, split between the city and school district, for the building. A second addition came in 2015 to the tune of $300,000, raised by the community, and the latest addition which opened Easter weekend of this year was split three ways between city, schools and community.
It’s one of the reasons the Black Hawk County Gaming Association wanted to fund part of the project, said executive director Beth Knipp.
“The board was really energized in the level of collaboration,” she said.
Frischmeyer, president of Little Rebels, stood inside the new addition Wednesday and said he was pleased to see how it’s grown and what it’s meant.
“It brought families to town, it helped keep families in town, and it keeps and attracts employees, too,” he said. “We didn’t even dream this.”
Moore has 48 employees, 16 of whom work full time for her, and is actively looking for more child care providers — she said those interested can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 788-6120. The center is currently staffed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“It’s been amazing,” Moore said. “There is so much support and work that’s gone into making it happen. Families are really putting their trust in us.”