Board of Trustees awards bid to complete long-delayed project

The long-delayed Taft College Student Center construction project is going to get started again.

More than a year after the college fired the company hired to build the structure, it has hired a new contractor to finish the job.

Saturday, the West Kern Community College District Board of trustees approved a $16.265 million contract with Colombo Construction to complete the 21,000-square foot building that will house the student center, cafeteria, bookstore, staff mail room, and meeting rooms.

The new contract is more than $3 million more than the original contract for the 21,000 square foot structure.

Cal Averland was the low bidder for the job in 2016 and work started soon after.

The project was supposed to open in the spring of 2018, but there were issues almost from the start.

After months of delays and problems with the project, the college fired Cal Averland in July 2018, about two months after the Student Center was supposed to be completed.
For nearly 15 months, the steel shell of the partially completed structure has sat on the 900 block of Wildcat Way at the east end of the campus while the college and a surety company which bonded the original contractor, California Averland, negotiated.

Now, the project is back on track, although no dates for the start of construction or completion have been announced.

The new contract will be paid through money left from Measure A, a bond passed by voters in 2004, the surety company and the college, said TC Executive Director, Marketing and Community Relations Susan Groveman.

There is still $7.9 million left that TC has not yet paid on the original contract, and the surety company's liability only covers the remainder of the $12.9 million contract with Cal Averland.