Permanent location still sought for Wheeling autism treatment center after July fire

WHEELING, W.Va. — The search will continue into 2019 for a permanent home for the Augusta Levy Learning Center in Ohio County more than six months after a large fire destroyed its previous location at the former Sacred Heart Church in North Wheeling.

Since September, a temporary space for the organization’s intensive autism treatment has been open in Downtown Wheeling on the 2nd floor of the Children’s Museum.

“We’re pretty happy here right now, but it is still temporary space,” said Haley Rauschenberg, outreach specialist for the Augusta Levy Learning Center.

“We’re still looking for our forever home.”

The July 7 fire at the previous church that was first dedicated in 1904 was determined to be an accidental blaze that started in a ceiling electrical junction box.

It happened during the two weeks of summer vacation at Augusta Levy.

“We’re getting back on track with our programs and getting our stimuli remade and all of that, so it’s been going really well,” Rauschenberg said of the fire recovery since then.

“We’ve been able to take some new kids in, so that’s exciting.”

Currently, 25 children are part of programs at Augusta Levy.

Ideally, Rauschenberg said they’ll be able to find a new location in 2019 that’s big enough to allow for more growth to serve children in West Virginia and surrounding states since Augusta Levy is one of just a few sites of its kind.

They’re looking for something in Wheeling with large rooms and space for separate sensory and gross motor areas.

Potential neighbors are also a concern.

“We are kind of noisy,” she said with a laugh. “We like to run around and jump and play.”

The Augusta Levy Learning Center is named for a longtime teacher who was known to her friends and colleagues as “Gussie” up until her death in 1998.

She was an early advocate for a multi-sensory approach to teaching.

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