FORT RILEY, Kan. - Community officials and Fort Riley leaders turned out for the Jan. 9 grand opening of the Forsyth Child Development Center in Building 2410 on Third Street near the Commissary.

Nikki Crisman, Child and Youth Services coordinator, began the ceremony by thanking those who helped get the center constructed, including the Kansas City District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Fort Riley's Public Works and Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Groundbreaking for the CDC began nearly 18 months ago for the center, which cost about $6.2 million to complete.

"The Army is very fortunate to have a great curriculum for children that's very Family oriented," Crisman said. "We observe the children every day, and then we build our curriculum around their needs, interests, strengths and weaknesses to build that up."

With the influx of Soldiers, the Army has taken a strong stance on building Family morale, she said.

"The Army Family Covenant was signed and supported, which has given us a lot of resources to build Family programs," Crisman said. "The Army has done a great job with the new facilities. We have a lot of small groups. So our classrooms will have only two primary care groups in each classroom versus larger groups that we've had in the past."

Crisman introduced Col. Richard Piscal, Fort Riley garrison commander, for remarks.

"This center expands our capacity for on-post child care and creates 198 spaces for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years," Piscal said. "While we continue in our efforts to develop on-post child care, we remain vigilant in addressing the availability of high-quality, affordable child care options for our Army Families outside our gates. This year, along with the state of Kansas, we will work to increase access to quality, affordable child care for Army Families. We will work this issue by partnering with child care providers to establish and improve quality ratings standards for child care programs."

After speeches, 3-year-old Jonathan Gaboury struggled to open a giant pair of scissors to help cut the grand-opening ribbon. Helping him was 4-year-old Adalisa Rodriguez. The children were flanked by Army and civilian officials. Jonathan's father, Staff Sgt. Jon Gaboury of Headquarters, 1st Infantry Division, grabbed the scissor handles to help cut the ribbon.

"We live right here in Colyer Manor, so it changes our commute time," Gaboury said. "Rather than having to drive up on the hill, it's nice having it convenient to everything that's opening like the new PX, so it will help us quite a bit."

Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins, commanding general of the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley, toured the facility with others after the opening ceremony.

"This is great for the quality of life for our installation and for our Families," Wiggins said. "I think, once again, this demonstrates the amount of commitment we have for our Families and for particularly our young ones. It's state of the art. It's beautiful."

The center's interior features numerous classrooms for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Behind it, an enclosed playground offers plenty of kid-safe equipment for recreation. As visitors toured the facility, Adalisa Rodriguez straightened her legs as her swing flew high in the air. Her father, Sgt. Juan Rodriguez, gave her gentle pushes to keep her moving. Adelisa also started preschool Jan. 12 at the center.

"I'm excited," said her mother, Kim Rodriguez. "She gets to keep a lot of her teachers and a lot of her classmates, so it's not going to be that much of a transition."

Families who would like to enroll children in a CDC should bring their children's shot records to Child and Youth Services' Central Registration Office in Building 6620 on Custer Hill.