South Coast Head Start showed off its newly remodeled facility in Brookings on Friday afternoon. Nearly 50 people attended the ribbon-cutting in front of the red schoolhouse at 420 Redwood Spur. 

Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCCA), a private non-profit organization, operates South Coast Head Start (SCHS). ORCCA Director Mike Lehman thanked everyone for supporting the project over the years. 

“What this does is creates a great opportunity for kids in this community,” said Lehman, who recently announced he is retiring as director at month’s end. “At the same time what it does is it means we will be here.” 

South Coast Head Start is a comprehensive early childhood program that serves children and pregnant women of income-eligible families throughout the Southern Oregon Coast. The program is funded by both state and federal grants. All services are provided at no cost to the families. 

The building used to be a public library and former site of Southwest Oregon Community College. Head Start moved into the Brookings facility in 2012. 

The remodeling includes an additional Early Head Start classroom, allowing Head Start to expand and provide a school experience for children from birth to age 3, and an additional Head Start classroom for ages 3-5. 

“Our staff and parents are so excited to have a permanent home in Brookings,” Child and Family Services Director Wendi Baird said. “This facility, which has been designed specifically for early childhood classrooms not only provides a safe place to provide quality services but also opportunities to grow and expand. We are so grateful to all our partners who supported this project.” 

South Coast Head Start is serving eight to 10 children in the home-based program and provides services to 38 families. Since November 2018, the programs have been operated from a temporary site at 525 5th St. in Brookings. 

Head Start initially received a $1.6-million Community Development Block Grant for the project. 

It's been a long process, but the end product was worth the wait,” said Dar Smith, South Coast Head Start’s Area Manager for South Curry County. “We now have a beautiful building that reflects the amazing program we offer.” 

Lehman and others talked openly about the length of the project. He said this project was on his desk when he became director back in 2013. 

“In terms of this project it was a three-year project that started in 2014, does that sound about right. So, now we actually look at it as a 20-year project and we got it done early,” Lehman said as the crowd smiled and laughed along with him. 

Lehman said some of the problems they had included water use, they couldn’t do any work on the roof because it would create a water runoff issue and they had parking issues. 

“It just kept going on and on,” Lehman said. 

Curry County stepped up in a big way, Lehman said, specifically Commissioners Court Boice and Sue Gold and County Counsel John Huttl, who spearheaded the project. 

“Without them, it would not have gotten done,” Lehman said. 

Lehman wrapped up by applauding the efforts of everyone that had a hand in the project. 

“It has been just an amazing partnership to pull this off,” Lehman said. “I don’t need to thank you, the kids of this community are going to thank you when they come through those doors.” 

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