The red roof has been painted over, the oven has been removed and any other reminders of David City’s Pizza Hut are now gone.

When it closed in 2016, rumors spread throughout the community regarding what would become of the property at 1931 N. 4th St. Now, people living in the area have a definitive answer. Mama Bear’s Childcare Center has moved in and is set to open its doors within the next few weeks.

Lindsey Palensky, of David City, said it has been her dream to put her degree in early childhood education from Central Community College to good use. Since 2009, she’s been running Lindsey’s Lil Lovebugs Daycare out of her own home. With space there being limited, the new facility will allow for better activities and instruction. Staff will lead the kids in games and activities, as well as teach lessons about colors, numbers and shapes.

“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time because I wanted to be able to incorporate my degree into what I’m doing with the kids, and when I’m at home by myself, that’s really hard,” Palensky said.

The center will provide child care for children from ages 6 weeks to 12 years. Hours will be 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Twenty-five kids from Palensky's current day care are set to move over to the new facility and be joined by several currently on a waiting list. The center will have a maximum capacity of 50 children.

Palensky will be joined by two other instructors, with more staff to be hired as needed. Transportation will be provided from the center to and for kids who go to school. Kids will be separated at the center by age and provided a morning and afternoon snack along with lunch, Palensky said. The center features an outdoor playground and will have a couple of computers for the older kids to utilize for homework.

Lindsey and her husband, Chris Palensky, have been fixing up the building since spring 2018. The windows and flooring have been replaced and the drywall was redone. With the help of family, they did all the work themselves except for the heating and air, concrete and electrical work.

“So we ended up pulling the paneling off, and the drywall behind it was just mold, so we were like, 'might as well keep going,'” Chris Palensky said. “So we completely gutted everything.”

Due to the red roof being trademarked, it was painted green by the previous owner. Chris said they plan to paint it brown sometime this summer.

The center was able to purchase much-needed equipment through a $10,000 Child Care Start-Up and Expansion Grant provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“That was incredibly helpful for getting everything in here,” Palensky said. “We got the cribs, the tables, a lot of the cubbies and such - the carpets.”

An open house is set to take place from 2-4 p.m. this Sunday at the center. The community is invited to come to take a look at the facility and meet the owners. Those interested in learning more about Mama Bear’s and how to enroll for its services are encouraged to call the owners at 402-367-7748.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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