New child development center opens, community celebrates ribbon cutting

Columbus Cottonmouths mascot Boomer, left, Buffy Kolasheski, Brig. Gen. John Kolasheski, U.S. Army Armor School commandant, Col. Andy Hilmes, Garrison commander, and Dianne Belfield, director of the new Smith Hourly Child Development Center and the SFAC Child Development Center, along with Indianhead Child Development Center's Strong Beginnings preschool class, cut the ribbon on the new Smith Hourly Child Development Center.

Columbus Cottonmouths mascot Boomer, left, Buffy Kolasheski, Brig. Gen. John Kolasheski, U.S. Army Armor School commandant, Col. Andy Hilmes, Garrison commander, and Dianne Belfield, director of the new Smith Hourly Child Development Center and the SFAC Child Development Center, along with Indianhead Child Development Center’s Strong Beginnings preschool class, cut the ribbon on the new Smith Hourly Child Development Center.

By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /

Dozens gathered outside the new Smith Hourly Child Development Center Sept. 9 for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Smith Hourly Child Development Center is adjacent to the Smith Fitness Center and will serve the patrons that go to the gym, said Dianne Belfield, director of the new Smith Hourly Child Development Center and the SFAC Child Development Center.

“As someone who likes to use the on-post facilities, I know how important it is to have the combination between a child development center and a gymnasium,” said Brig. Gen. John Kolasheski, the U.S. Army Armor School commandant.

“Our fitness centers serve as so much more than gymnasiums. Though they keep the force fit and ready, they also give our spouses and family members a healthy means to decompress and socialize in order to deal with the inherent stresses and unpredictability of military life,” he added.

Following the ribbon cutting, Col. Andy Hilmes, Garrison commander, read to the Indianhead Child Development Center's Strong Beginnings preschool class.

Following the ribbon cutting, Col. Andy Hilmes, Garrison commander, read to the Indianhead Child Development Center’s Strong Beginnings preschool class.

“I’m so glad it’s here. All of our sweat, tears and everything are in this building. We put it together from the ground up,” added Belfield.

The idea is for parents to be able to come here, drop off their children and use the facility next door, she added.

The Smith Hourly Child Development Center was designed to hold 30 children, said Jeannie Williams, chief of Child, Youth and School Services.

Brian Kitching, a fourth-grader at E.A. White Elementary who participates in the Fort Benning School Age Center program, sang the national anthem at the ribbon cutting.

“It was very exciting. I’m glad I got the chance to be a part of this,” said Kitching.

The Smith Hourly Child Development Center will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The operating hours were chosen so that they’d correspond with the fitness center’s hours, explained Williams.

“We’re here to serve you and we hope that more parents will have the opportunity to exercise because of this new facility,” she added.

View more photos at fortbenningphotos.com.

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