Family donates land, labor for new school
A big heart and a love of children led to the creation of a new 5,400-square-foot preschool in El Jebel.The Crawford family – whose roots in the area go back to 1961 – donated the land and is building the state-of-the-art facility between Highway 82 and El Jebowl.Laurie Soliday, the owner and operator of a current preschool in El Jebel, said she was informally talking to Adele (Crawford) Hubbell more than a year ago about her dream and vision for a top-notch child-care facility. “I said something like, ‘There are times when I think what if … ‘” Soliday said.Hubbell was fascinated by the potential of that “what if,” and she was impressed with Soliday’s current operation. Soliday owns a 1,700-square-foot trailer, where she operates the Solara child-care center. She rents the space from the Crawfords.Soon after learning of Soliday’s aspirations, Hubbell started seeking a site on her family’s spread in El Jebel where Soliday could operate a bigger and better facility. After the Crawford family settled on vacant land by El Jebowl, it took the idea a step further and provided the labor to construct the building. Hubbell’s brother Noel Crawford and his son John are overseeing construction, along with Cleve Williams, Hubbell’s nephew.This isn’t the first time the Crawfords have donated to the community. They provided land in El Jebel to the Basalt fire district at such favorable terms in the late 1990s that it was essentially a donation for a new fire station. When asked why her family is being so generous, Hubbell appeared astonished by the question. “For the children,” she said.Hubbell said Soliday and her staff at Solara go far beyond providing a place for kids to stay while their parents work. They try hard to spark an interest in knowledge. For example, they imported some bugs to their water table and had the kids measure them periodically to see how they grew.Hubbell also made a connection with Soliday when she learned how she uses maps at her day-care center. “Laurie has a thing about maps. I have a thing about maps and globes,” Hubbell said. “I think children should learn about more than just their little corner of the world.”The preschool will have an immense backyard when it opens in September. Part of the yard will be filled with fruit trees, and there will be space where the kids can plant and nurture vegetables, a prospect that thrills Hubbell.”I know these are little steps,” she said. But with so many parents working and challenges mounting to raising a family, she believes they are vital steps. “It’s just an important part of the community,” Hubbell said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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With the snowpack and precipitation levels in Pitkin County below last year at this time, local officials are bracing for an active wildfire season this summer.