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Construction progressing on PIC's new North Union home

| Saturday, April 12, 2014, 6:15 p.m.

By year's end, the Private Industry Council's programs for Fayette County families will have a new, state-of-the-art home in a multimillion dollar facility.

It will be located along Commonwealth Drive in North Union Township, just a few miles from the current rental facility along Coolspring Street also in North Union Township.

Construction began in mid-March and will continue through December. The 23,500-square-foot, two-story building will cost $4.2 million and will occupy about 5.5 acres on Commonwealth Drive.

It's funded through private donations and a loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facility Program, said Tim Yurcisin, president and CEO of the council.

The Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in the 1980s to provide early childhood development, education and workforce development. Its new building will house five Head Start classrooms, an Early Head Start socialization area, adult learner classrooms, computer labs and office space.

“Our mission is to build the workforce in southwestern Pennsylvania through early childhood education, employment and training services, adult education,” said Terri Campbell, the group's vice president of operations.

A new building is necessary to replace the organization's current rented facility, a 75-year-old former high school that poses efficiency challenges, the group said.

The new space will be better structured for the council's purposes, as opposed to the segmented rental facility. Plus, it'll be more cost-effective, Campbell said.

Officials expect to save between $50,000 and $60,000 annually by cutting utility costs, according to a news release from the council.

The Coolspring Street location, just two miles from the new site, will close, Yurcisin said. Officials intentionally positioned the new office near to the current building to keep the commute about the same for children who ride buses to the center.

The council provides Early Head Start programs for infants and toddlers, in addition to offering adult education classes for and programs for unemployed workers.

“This is all about putting Fayette County in a very quality-oriented program,” Yurcisin said. “We wanted to provide a holistic approach to our customers in providing services for not only education but employment and training. ... We want to make sure that we're excellent stewards of these dollars that come into the county.”

The local Head Start program was one of 10 nationwide to receive National Center of Excellence accolades.

“By being able to move into a more effective and efficient facility, we're showing the world that we continue to be a leader in early childhood education. The best possible facility for our families to grow,” Yurcisin said. “That's a big part of what we're trying to do now — to get our kids to transition from kindergarten and onto school.”

Among goals of the new space:

• Empower parents to actively participate in their children's learning by offering academic, workforce and parenting skills under the same roof where their children go to school.

• Foster a space where the whole family can access learning opportunities.

• Create a nurturing environment to promote learning, attract and retain highly qualified staff and enhance involvement opportunities for families and caregivers.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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