HILLSBORO -- A West Fargo couple has taken over a day care center in Hillsboro after the license of the previous operators was revoked.

Joe and Bridget McGuire plan to open Monday at the Main Discovery Creative Education Center, a downtown Hillsboro building that was occupied by Fargo-based Tot Spot Childcare and Learning Centers until late August. Last week, the Hillsboro Economic Development Corp. approved a five-year lease for the couple, who closed on the deal Thursday.

“We weren’t necessarily pursuing a second center, but we definitely always keep our eyes open,” Bridget McGuire said. “We’re focused on helping smaller communities and helping places that have a day care shortage.”

Tot Spot closed its Hillsboro branch almost exactly a year after it opened in the building because the North Dakota Department of Human Services revoked its license. Inspectors said the center had numerous repeat violations.

Tot Spot owner Kari Morehouse contested the revocation, saying her center wasn’t given a fair chance. Human Services is reviewing that request.

She said she would like to open a smaller day care service in Hillsboro, but her emails to state regulators indicated she wasn’t interested in reopening Tot Spot as it was.

“I’m hoping it sells before the appeal,” Morehouse said in one email to Human Services. “I honestly don’t want to open or reopen another center in Traill County again.”

The McGuires have operated the Learning Circle Childcare and Preschool Center in Jamestown, N.D., for about a year, which is full and “has been going extremely well,” Bridget McGuire said. She heard about the issues in Hillsboro through media reports and reached out to the EDC.

Their center in Hillsboro will be able to serve 56 children, and they already have 25 children signed up, she said.

“It’s definitely been very inviting,” she said.

Hillsboro has tried to solve its day care shortage problem, with EDC leaders saying having enough child care services is key in retaining and attracting families. There are other day care providers, though most are in-home services that are limited.

The EDC will continue to analyze its needs and do what it can to meet the demand, said Paula Suda, superintendent for Hillsboro Public Schools and the EDC's president.

“We’re excited for them to bring in their expertise on day care into Hillsboro,” she said of the McGuires, calling them “go-getters.”

The couple researched the decision thoroughly, Bridget McGuire said.

“We didn’t want to jump into a situation that wasn’t a win situation,” she said. “We definitely did our research, made sure we were going in for the right reasons and making sure we were going in with the right people on our side.”

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