Mice cause Head Start program to cancel classes

Published 9:57 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A local Head Start program was closed Wednesday due to a pest control problem.

The program is housed in the city owned Cannon Center — the old Cannon School building — and was closed to students and teachers after several mice were found inside that part of the building Tuesday.

“Teachers have sighted a couple of mice there in the rooms,” said Alton West, director of community development for the city of LaGrange. “We have bait traps set out where they have trapped two mice in a glue trap. We have called our exterminators and that’s about the extent of where we are at this point.”

West was clear this is not a mouse epidemic or anything close to that. 

“I’ve gone over there and there are no mice in the other parts of the building that I’m aware of, and I’ve talked to the directors of the other agencies in the building,” West said.

The city leases the building out to the organizations who operate inside. The building also houses the Boys and Girls Club, and The Multipurpose Center.

On Wednesday afternoon, workers from the Boys and Girls Club were exiting the building and said they went about their day as normal.

Head Start is closed indefinitely, with no timeline on exactly when it’ll be back open.

“We lease this property from the city of LaGrange, and we reported the issue to the city, and they are working on the problem,” said Nicki Highland, district manager and executive director of the Childcare Network’s Head Start Program. “We decided to close the program out of an abundance of caution to give the city time to address the issue.”

Highland said Head Start is scheduled to move out of the facility by the end of June into a new facility. The building was turned over to the city of LaGrange in 2015 by the Troup County School Board, West said.

With mice spotted in the Head Start portion of the building, parents are concerned about the health of their children.

“My child sleeps there, he plays in the floor, he eats there,” said parent Lesley Longshore. “Mice carry diseases. This is not OK. It’s not acceptable.”

West said he understands the sensitivity of the situation, especially since young children are involved. He said pest control workers were at the building working Wednesday to eliminate any mice inside. He said they cannot put down pellets or fumigate the area, so they are using bait traps.

“We have children involved that are laying down on cots or laid down on the floor. By all means I do understand that fully,” West said. “That’s why the city of LaGrange has been there, contracted with pest control companies that are trained in these situations to handle them.”

Highland said she’s not sure how long the Head Start program will be closed.

“At this point, we are making that determination day by day as we continue our conversation and communication with the city,” Highland said. 

She said the Childcare Network used social media and made calls to parents to let them know the program would not be open Wednesday.  Longshore said Head Start announced it would be closed Thursday.