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Leo Augusta, Howard Lestrud, Reflections, opinion, column, Steele County Times, Blooming Prairie
Amy Hinzmann and Doug Anderson of the Leo Augusta Children's Academy took members of the Cargill Citizens Advisory Panel on a tour of its facilities soon to be open to the public. A soft opening is planned for June 6. Staff photo by Howard Lestrud
Leo Augusta Children's Academy takes center stage
Howard Lestrud, Contributing Writer

It indeed will be one of a kind.

Officials of the Leo Augusta Children's Academy took members of the Cargill Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP) on a sneak peek of the child care development center as part of Cargill's agenda during a regular meeting last Wednesday night.

Tour directors were Amy Hinzmann, board chair, and Doug Anderson, executive director. All CAP members expressed their interest in the children's academy by asking questions of Hinzmann and Anderson.

Work continues at a rapid pace to finish classrooms in time for a soft opening on June 6. An open house is planned for after July 4.

The center emphasizes meeting a need for high quality childcare. Hinzmann said a generous donation, over $1 million from Craig and Robyn Kruckeberg, made this project possible.

The Kruckebergs donated 3 acres of property, which includes 18,000 square feet of building space, the former corporate headquarters of Minimizer and a large storage shed.

The corporate headquarters will now house these four sections: infant, toddler, pre-school and school-age. The other building will be converted into a gymnasium.

In leading the tour, Hinzmann explained that Craig and Robyn donated land and buildings to help meet a daycare need in the region.

Along with the donation, a new non-profit organization, Leo Augusta Children's Academy was formed partly in honor of Craig's parents, using their middle names: Lorraine Augusta and Dick Leo. Lorraine died last year.

Hinzmann said Blooming Prairie already has some "great day care providers" but there are 104 kids in the area who need day care. She said the need grew much larger to 884 kids when you look at a 20-mile radius.

Hinzmann and Anderson said they are in process of hiring staff. Eleven staff members have already been signed up and 13 more are to be hired to bring a complete staff to 24.

The center will be equipped for 144 children.

During the tour, Blooming Prairie resident Kurt Blome congratulated those leading the project saying they had "excellent vision" in working to meet daycare needs.

Leo Augusta will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The buildings will not be solely used for daycare, Hinzmann said. "It will be a community building," she said.

Leo Augusta has also embarked on a $3 million fundraising campaign.

As a member of the Cargill CAP team, I felt honored to have been given the opportunity to see how this remarkable project is proceeding.

In the end it definitely will be one of a kind and will be emulated by many other communities.

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