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Defunct Children 1st DayCare owes JCIDA $26,987 on loan

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BLACK RIVER — Children 1st DayCare & Learning Zone, 29730 County Route 50, received a $40,000 loan in 2009 from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, but the center closed at the end of 2012 with $26,987 left on its tab.

The JCIDA’s board of directors decided Thursday to try to get back the rest of the money lent to the center, owned by Leland R. and Deborah Aucompaugh, who reside in Texas. The center provided day care to toddlers 18 to 36 months and preschoolers ages 3 to 5.

The Aucompaughs also owe $186,000 plus accrued interest on a loan from Community Bank, according to JCIDA.

The Aucompaughs hired a staff to operate the center for them while they remained in Texas. The center’s website, which still is active, lists a staff of five employees. The director of the center was Kaylee E. Landis, who holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.

David J. Converse, JCIDA board chairman, said Children 1st had a challenging time enrolling enough children to make a profit.

“One of the problems with a lot of day cares is the amount of staff you need in New York state, and being able to actually get enough students in there,” Mr. Converse said. “It was a combination of not having adequate staffing and being able to charge enough for day care. It’s a tough industry to survive in.”

Mr. Aucompaugh is retired from the military, while Mrs. Aucompaugh is a high school principal in Texas who has more than 20 years of education experience.

The agency’s loan carried a personal guarantee by the couple that will enable JCIDA to continue billing for the balance owed, rather than writing it off. JCIDA also has a second foreclosure position, behind Community Bank, on the Black River building on which the couple had a mortgage.

The JCIDA directors voted Thursday to establish a reserve fund and continue billing the Aucompaughs for the $26,987 loan principal.

“We think we may get something out of it,” said Lyle V. Eaton, JCIDA chief financial officer.

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