Little People's Place has new owners 05.04.2011

Written by David Green.

starks_LPPTwo Lenawee County natives are the new owners of the Little People’s Place day care center in Morenci.

Phil and Jessica Stark bought the facility last month from Bob Dister, the owner since 1980.

The attached residential portion of the building will serve as the Stark’s first home after Dot Dister moves into a house she purchased in Morenci.

Jessica, originally from Addison, earned a degree in child development from Siena Heights University, with a minor in psychology. She is now pursuing a degree in elementary education.

She gained experience working with the Gretchen’s House system of child development centers in Ann Arbor and she studied Montessori principles at Siena.

Phil, an Onsted graduate, earned a teaching degree in health and physical education from Western Michigan University and is enrolled in the business management master’s degree program at Eastern Michigan University.

The Starks heard from a relative that Little People’s Place was for sale.

“It kind of fell into our laps,” Phil said, and they both like the idea of walking downstairs to work.

The center currently focuses only on the Young Fours program through Morenci Area Schools, but the Starks intend to offer summer day care in June for children from two and a half years to 10 years of age. In the fall, they will begin before- and after-school care, plus day care for children younger than four.

The Starks intend to retain the same staff through the end of the school year to maintain continuity. After that, staffing will depend on the growth of the center.

“We definitely feel this is where we should be,” Jessica said.

Susie and Brad Mansfield opened the Summit Street child care center in 1972. Dister and his wife, Pat, along with his parents, Joe and Dot Dister, and his sister and brother-in-law Joanne and Jeff Kelley, took over ownership in 1980.

“They are starting out where we did 31 years ago,” Bob Dister said.

The longevity of the business—41 years in 2012—is a testament to the education services provided, Dister added.

The Starks can be reached at Little People’s Place by calling 458-7343.

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