Nine babies and a deteriorating building — those are the things I am thinking about today.

I could be considering the possibility of a cicada invasion or the promise of more June roses and field daisies, but they are for another time. First, let’s think about those children.

Nonuplets was a word I had never heard before nine babies were born alive to a Malian mother in Morocco on May 4. Now I find myself following their progress and, as I write this, all of them survive and only two remain on ventilators. Mom is 25; Dad, 35, and big sister is 2 and a half. Their home is in Timbuktu, but mother and infants remain in the Moroccan hospital where they were born.

Mom, Halina Cresse, was transferred to that facility in mid-February for bed rest in the hope of viable births. At that time, scans had detected “only” seven fetuses and neither mom nor hospital staff expected the world record that followed. The nine, five girls and four boys, were delivered by C-section, weighing between 1.1 and 2.2 pounds each. Two previous sets of nonuplets were born in 1970 and 1999, but none survived.

I can’t quite get my head around it. How do you care for nine babies? How many helpers do you need to see that they are fed, changed, comforted and clothed? I can imagine holding two at once, but nine? The new father says he is not worried, that “God will provide.” OK, but who’s going to help with the bottle washing? Not the 2-year-old at home.

It took a team of 10 doctors and 25 paramedics to help with their birth, which was at only 30 weeks instead of the “normal” 36. News reports say the infants will require another two-three months of incubation. After that, there are only questions.

Questions lead me to the topic of that building, which, like John Brown’s body, has been “a-mouldering” for far too long. I asked about the future of the old Swenson Early Education Center, formerly the West School, some time ago. I was concerned because that 1955 building was where our boys attended elementary school, and it has been sitting vacant since 1998.

Back in March, 2015, our Osawatomie school board agreed to sell the structure to Family Estates of Denver for the price of $1.00. FE owner Mark Buhrle proposed turning it into an Alzheimer’s treatment center, bringing a needed care facility and new jobs. Another plan for two-bedroom apartments had been presented by two Kansas City firms but was not accepted.

Eager to rid the district of a liability, board members approved the sale to Family Estates in a split decision. Now, that building is for sale for the asking price of $350,000. It is being advertised by a Colorado realtor.

I am aware of at least one primary problem — the building is filled with asbestos from ceilings to floor tiles and pipes. Current environmental laws regarding the abating of asbestos are staggering in detail and cost. I don’t know if that’s the reason for the development failure but am certain that it will complicate any future purpose.

Let’s hope for ingenious folk with creative minds who can turn that site if not the building into a community asset once again.

Maybe it could start by housing nine babies, their family and care-giving team.

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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