By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
When Fort Knox was the Armor Center’s home, trainees were familiar with Kouma Dining Facility. The facility is named after the late Master Sgt. Ernest Kouma, a former Fort Knox game warden who was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War.
But when the Armor Center moved to Fort Benning, Ga., in 2010, the building was no longer used as a dining facility. And that changed Jan. 17 during the facility’s open house when it became the Kouma Child Development Center. Rayceil Oggs, the director of Child, Youth and School Services, said the building will be used for the kindergarten program.
“The garrison commander had the Kouma facility renovated for our kindergarten program,” she said. “It’s really great because the kindergartners now have more space to implement their program we can also go further into implementing the 4H program the 4H club.
“We will be able to expand that and have the physical fitness team. If you go down to the CDC and you see the children in the rooms the rooms appear to be so small because the children are so big. At Kouma the space that I have gives them more opportunities to grow and expand their horizons.”
Oggs pointed out when Kouma officially opened Monday 36 children moved to two of the center’s three rooms. She said the children will occupy two of the three rooms and the third room will be used for activities. She added that the center will have a maximum capacity of 65 children. It is also equipped with a kitchen so the cooking will eventually be done at Kouma.
“(We) cannot have over two ratio groups in each room,” said Oggs. “One of the rooms has one toilet and the other room has two toilets.”
Oggs also said the center has a boundless playground, which is a playground for children with special needs and an open area for activities such as soccer.
Oggs noted that another advantage of having the children at Kouma is having the Family Child Care program co-located within the CDC kindergarten program.
“We will be able to do some utilization with the FCC staff,” explained Oggs.
Although the program has moved to its new digs, Oggs said parents will continue dropping of their children at the original CDC building and they will attend the new facility after school.
“(It has) taken us a little over a year to do the renovations,” Oggs said. “(Installation Management Command) CYSS people will come down twice to see what’s needed. It’s exciting (moving the program to Kouma).”