ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Phoebe Putney broke ground Wednesday for a new daycare center expansion that will be built on a piece of property that was at the center of a court battle. The Family Tree Childcare Development Center will accommodate more of Phoebe employees' children.
It will be built on 4th Avenue, a spot that was the site of the home of 93-year old Julia Lemon. You may remember in 2006 when Phoebe took that property using eminent domain. The elderly Mrs. Lemon had to find someplace else to live. A jury later ordered Phoebe to pay Mrs. Lemon's landlord 200-thousand dollars for the home and the property, and Mrs. Lemon was awarded 51-thousand dollars for having to leave her home of 26 years.
CEO Joel Wernick said, "That's in the past. We're able to get what we needed to do and move forward with the project and we're excited about it." Director Beverly Waddell said, "One of the most difficult parts of my job is having to tell a parent that we don't have space for their child because we tout our benefits, but then we're not able to take everybody that come in. This is such a relief that maybe I won't have to say 'no' to people anymore, I can just have them come in and be a part of our family too."
Right now, Family Tree can only accept 153 students. When the expansion is complete, in about a year, they will be able to accept 90-100 more children.