New Montgomery County childcare facility at old Nelliston School

NELLISTON — Some of the blackboards still have writing on them in the old rooms, but the historic Nelliston School on Stone Arabia Street is vacant, waiting for new life.

Just after the Civil War, for a 100 years, students got an education there.

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It closed in 1974, and the property is owned by the village of Nelliston.

Now, the building will be restored, and its purpose will, too.

The building is set to become the home of the New Beginnings Academy for children six weeks to 12 years old.

“Our program is going to run 12 months, so during the school year, we’ll have a before- and after-care program and we open up at 6 o’clock in the morning,” said Janel Hearn of New Beginnings Academy. “Parents can drop their kids off before school and then the buses can bring them here.”

Local leaders say childcare is a basic need, and that child care is scarce.

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“The need is significant because when you have a family that’s choosing between taking care of their children and going to work, you know that’s a significant need,” said Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort.

According to the Montgomery County Health Department, there is one daycare provider in the village of Fort Plain, two in Palatine Bridge, and none at all in the villages of Nelliston and Canajoharie.

“Being a teacher myself, I know this is going to be a great resource, not just for working parents, but also for early intervention services,” said Nelliston Clerk Eddie Watt, who is also a project co-manager. “There are a number of retired teachers I know who are interested in coming and doing some volunteer work here.”

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Some of the funding for the $2.1 million renovation will come from grants. $200,000 comes from the county.

While the area sees economic growth, there are also the challenges of workforce shortages.

“Childcare is a big issue why they can’t hire employees and why they can’t keep employees,” said Ossenfort. “We’re looking at providing solutions countywide and where we can incentivize these projects is incredibly important, so when we saw an opportunity here that fit into what we knew the challenges were and how we can overcome them, this was a no-brainer project.”