MORRILTON, Ark. (KTHV) - Two years after a building collapsed in downtown Morrilton killing a small child, the safety of another city building is brought into question. The mayor said a former schoolhouse turned Head Start facility is more than 70 years old, and during a recent inspection, city officials made a dangerous discovery.
Classrooms that should be filled with pre-school children are empty at Morrilton's Child Development Center, but parents like Alicia Martin said it's not by choice.
"They started school August 21st, and then we found out two days later that they were going to be closing. They had problems with the roof," explained Martin.
Mayor Stewart Nelson said the city donated the building to the Head Start program and a regular inspection last month revealed a dangerous sagging roof with the possibility of collapsing at any moment.
"The building appeared to be unsafe. Some of the joints are coming apart, some of the stuff is cracked, the building is in a pretty precarious situation," described Nelson.
Immediately, the mayor asked Head Start to close the building until repairs could be made, sending more than 100 kids home for an indefinite amount of time.
"It might happen tomorrow or it might be ten years from now. We just can't take a chance when it comes to young lives. We've got to take care of them," said Nelson.
Meanwhile, parents like Martin are struggling to find alternative care for their kids, hoping the city will find a solution sooner rather than later.
"With me working third shift, they are at home with me. But naturally, they are on a schedule where in the daytime, they are awake, but I'm sleepy. I have friends that they don't' know what they're going to do. They need the daycare to be open for their children," explained Martin.
The mayor said he wants to take bids to fix the roof, but it could take a month or longer to get the process going. He said the city council must vote on whether or not to pay for the repairs. He expects that vote to come next Monday at their regularly scheduled meeting held at city hall at 6 p.m.
Head Start is working to put some children in other buildings, but the majority of them will not be able to return until the roof is fixed.