SHICKSHINNY — Miss Ashley’s Beach House has a new lawn as the first recipient of a loan from the Luzerne Foundation/USDA Shickshinny Business Revolving Loan Fund for flood-related expenses incurred in 2011 from Tropical Storm Lee.
Ashley Holmes, owner of the day care center on North Main Street, used the $13,500 loan to install an artificial turf play area for her clients to frolic.
Jeff Box, director of NEPA Alliance, said the loan, which has an interest rate of .25 percent, is the first given from a $100,000 grant provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Grant Program to the Luzerne Foundation and managed by NEPA Alliance.
Holmes said the new play area alleviates several issues she faced in providing mandated outside play time for her pre-school clients. She said the former area was often muddy and the children would get dirty when playing.
“Now they can roll around all they want,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do this project without this loan.”
Holmes, 32, said she named her day care center Ashley’s Beach House for two reasons: Her father advised her to have her name in the title and the second reason was more philosophical.
“I worked at a day care center before I owned this place,” she said. “I remember parents tell me that their kids never wanted to go to day care. So I thought if the name that was more appealing — like the beach — the kids would want to come here. And it has worked so far. But I do get some calls for room rentals and bathing suits.”
Miss Ashley’s Beach House was founded in January 2005 by Holmes and is open year-round Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It’s licensed by the state Department of Public Welfare.
Holmes has a client pool of 38 children. She employs two other people.
Tom Williams, director of the USDA Rural Development program, said the goal is to help small businesses through a low-interest loan.
“We want to support local businesses,” he said. “This program helps them get things done they might otherwise not be able to do.”
Charles Barber, executive director of the Luzerne Foundation, said there are other Shickshinny businesses considering applying for a loan through the program. He said the maximum loan amount is $15,000.
“It’s been more than two years since the last flooding here,” Barber said. “Some businesses are still deciding whether or not they will re-open. This program could help them make that decision.”