Harms applauds funding for Wildcat Hills Nature Center, early childhood development

A $1.5 million expansion at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center is on the horizon after a one million dollar boost from the Legislature in the upcoming two year budget. State Senator John Harms of Scottsbluff said Monday $500,000 will come from Game and Parks, $500,000 from the general fund, and $500,000 will be raised through private donations.

When construction is completed it will double the size of the current facility with a big conference room and more space to comfortably store the exhibits from one of the biggest fossil digs in North America. Harms says with more climate controlled exhibit space it should encourage more digging in the Wildcats.

The last of the money won't be available until the middle of next summer, so construction won't begin until 2014.

Harms also said lawmakers appropriated $10 million for early childhood development, including $8 million from a bill he sponsored. Harms says it's important the state address the high number of youth who are at risk in the state before they reach kindergarten (57% in Scotts bluff County). He says the number has been increasing every year and it is difficult for the schools to make up what has been lost in the first three years of a child's life.... the most critical time for brain development, motor skills improvement and interaction with other people.

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