A local childcare center is closing its doors on Friday.
"It's been a wonderful 12 years. This has become an extension of our family," said Barry Slaton, who with his father, Roger, opened Dawson Learning Center in August 2000.
"This has definitely been a sad, emotional time for us."
Affectionately known as Mr. Roger and Mr. Barry, the Slatons said the economy played a role in closing the Hightower Parkway center.
"We don't want this to be all about the money, but we haven't raised rates in three years because we feel for our families," Slaton said. "But that has been part of the problem. A lot is coming out of ours, especially [dad's], pocket."
Roger Slaton said the family fought for as long as possible to keep the center going.
"But with the finances and the economy, it just wasn't making it," he said. "Emotionally, I'm sick about it."
Center management sent out letters Thursday afternoon to notify parents of the closure. They are also contacting the families of children registered to attend pre-kindergarten at the center this fall.
"We've also told the other centers in the county, and hopefully the kids will all be able to transfer to one of the other fine centers in our county," Barry Slaton said.
Roger Slaton said they will do what they can to make the transition as smooth as possible for the children, their families and the center's 12 to 15 employees who will be out of work as of Friday afternoon.
"I went over to the center and just walked around. It's heart-wrenching to know those kids aren't going to be there," he said. "It's been our good fortune to be in Dawson County. If there's anything we can do to help, please don't hesitate to call."