HINTON, W.Va. -- Hinton officials are planning to offer city-operated day care to residents to fill a void left by the closure of the city's only private provider."People need day care,'' Hinton Mayor Joe Blankenship told The Register-Herald. "We don't presently have a day care here in Hinton.''Blankenship said the center will not only benefit the community but also allow the city to utilize empty space in the Hinton Technology Center. The city has long-term debt on the center and short-term leases, which he said do not mix well."We've got to look for ways to enhance revenue and make sure our future is as bright as our present,'' he said. "That's what we're trying to do.''
The center also will contribute to the city's economic growth, because companies looking for a place to locate businesses want quality day care options for workers, he said."We felt we could possibly better handle [a day care center] than a private enterprise,'' Blankenship said. "We wish it was a private enterprise putting in a day care center, but that is not the case.''The State Fire Marshal's Office is reviewing the city's plans for the center. Once the plans are approved, bids will be awarded and construction will begin. The center could open within 90 days.Stephen Smith, executive director of West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition said Blankenship's plan is a "fantastic idea.''"Day cares are not big business,'' Smith told the newspaper. "It may well work as a way to provide a community service in a building that needs it.''The median wage for day care workers in the state is $8.63 per hour, he said. "Day cares operate at low-profit margins for people who do this because they're passionate about it,'' he explained.