ELIZABETH A. CONKEY
NORTH BENNINGTON -- Country Corner Daycare at 59 River Road in North Bennington will close its doors Friday after serving the families of Bennington, North Bennington and surrounding areas for almost 30 years.
Leone Dusablon, the owner of Country Corner, announced in May that the daycare would be closing, allowing her eight dedicated staff members ample time to find other work.
The property was listed shortly thereafter by Brenda Jones Realty for $197,500 and has yet to be sold.
Dusablon, who celebrated her 78th birthday on Wednesday, said her decision to close the facility stemmed from a number of factors, mostly her advancing age, but also because her staff is unwilling to return to school to obtain master's degrees in early childhood education, a requirement, according to Dusablon, that was recently put in place by the State of Vermont for all daycare employees.
"Laws are getting too strict," she said. "I've loved every minute, but I'm just too old to keep doing this. It's time."
According to Dusablon, many parents have failed to pay their childcare bills over the years, which has culminated in an estimated loss of around $25,000 for her business. This financial stress was also a contributing factor in her decision to close.
"I'm a little scared," Dusablon said of her upcoming retirement. "I've never not worked before."
Dusablon said she plans to stay busy by volunteering regularly at Bennington's new Welcome Center.
Denee Facto, who has worked for Country Corner for 28 years, is sad about the daycare's imminent closure, but looking forward to a change. Come fall, she will be working part-time at the Apple Barn making doughnuts and spending more time with her grandson.
"It's definitely sad," she said of Friday's closure. "I'll miss watching the kids grow up, seeing them come in as babies and then watching them go off to school. It was just wonderful."
Lindy Lynch, Dusablon's daughter, who helped to open the daycare with her mother 29 years ago, noted that the closing of Country Corner is sure to be a loss for the community.
"We've created such fond memories with families here," she said. "The staff has touched the lives of so many children. I'm sure the daycare will be missed."
Lynch and Dusablon hope that once the facility is sold, that it will remain as a daycare. They are prepared to sell it "as is," with all existing furniture, playground equipment and toys.
As an expression of appreciation to her mother and Facto within the community, Lynch is asking families whose children have attended Country Corner in the past, or attend now, to send notes of gratitude and fond memories to Dusablon and Facto, to arrive on or before the close of business Friday.
"It will be a nice way to celebrate their years of service and make them smile," Lynch said.
Notes can be delivered by hand or by mail to Country Corner Daycare, 59 River Road, North Bennington, Vermont 05257.
Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.