Child care in Temple closing following January church fire - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |


Child care in Temple closing following January church fire

by Zlatko Filipovic and Natasha Chen

TEMPLE - A day care within Temple's First Baptist Church is closing its doors. This comes after the January 19th fire that heavily damaged the church at 102 West Barton Avenue. The cause of the fire has been ruled arson, and authorities continue to search for those responsible.

The church officials say that all buildings connected to the main church building, though not burned by the fire, suffered extensive water and smoke damage.

State regulations only allow a child care facility to be inoperable for up to three months. The church's pastor, Dr. Martin Knox, says it is very unlikely that the Child Development Center (CDC) will be able to reoccupy the building within that time frame.

"This is a difficult and painful decision. We understand that it lays off 36 people during difficult economic times. That is hard decision to make," said Dr. Knox.

Because those 36 people lost their jobs due to a disaster, Knox said they will qualify for special training programs at Workforce Solutions.

The Center was serving 110 children, most whose families were not part of the church. Pastor Knox said that their child care leaders are trying to help those families find other facilities to send their children to.

"The challenge is, many of them...have a waiting list just like we have a waiting list," he said.

The CDC started on September 1, 1969 as a day care and Kindergarten.

"I have been director at the Center for eleven and a half years. I will be lost without our children and parents," said Director Carolyn Gunter. "There is nothing more beautiful than to hear a child laugh and to have a child hug me. That will be deeply missed. We are attempting to help families find childcare who have not yet placed their child in another center."

Knox said the last three weeks have been taxing on him and the church community in many ways.

"All the emotions - first week was the fire, the second week they inform you it was intentionally set, and this week this action has to transpire. So that's difficult. And it just keeps coming. Physically you get tired, emotionally you get tired, but yet we're finding God's been faithful to us."

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