New student center slightly behind schedule

Following delays caused by weather and the usual surprises once ground is broken, construction on a Student Center at Taft College continues to move ahead.

“We’re about 24 days behind schedule,” said Brock McMurray, executive vice president for administrative services. “We had 26 days of rain, and you always run into unexpected things.”

McMurray made his remarks as part of an update on construction presented to the citizens advisory committee that oversees campus projects funded by a voter-approved $39 million construction bond known as Measure A.

Representatives from the administration, business office, maintenance and operation and design firm AP Architects offered quarterly updates to the oversight committee.

M&O director Mike Capela told the panel that much of the groundwork has been completed, including footing for the foundation.

“The steel is being fabricated,” he said. “The steel is being fabricated in five sections. The end of this month you will start seeing steel going up. It’s a big process that will require about three weeks of erection time.”

Capela also said an electrical project that is part of the overall Measure A construction program has been completed now that the Student Center is underway.

“Our power used to come through a tunnel from the high school (next door). We needed more power for our projects than it could provide. We’ve completely switched over so we are independent of the high school.”

Although the bond generates a little under $39 million, the college has used grants, interest, capital outlay and state matching funds to add more than $10 million for construction to just under $50 million.

Interest earned from refinancing, along with interest from cash deposited in the county treasury “helped give us more bang for our buck,” said Amanda Bauer, director of fiscal services.

TC has total assets of just over $9 million (cash in the county treasury plus investments).

A vocational building and the athletic fields are the only projects that remain to be funded.

Once the Student Center is ready for occupancy the college plans to convert the existing cafeteria into a vocational center.

TC is still searching for space to build athletic fields.

State funding will be used for the sports fields, McMurray said, if property can be found.

“If you look at our Master Plan we are out of space,” he said. “Our building projects have kind of a hodgepodge. Where can we squeeze in our buildings?”

The college is landlocked with the county library and a church and rectory intersecting the campus.

A plan to purchase the library and relocate it in the old Bank of America building at Center and Fifth streets didn’t materialize. The county and college had agreed on a price for the library property but the asking price for the old BofA building was too high.