West Hills Community College District starts building new campus in Firebaugh

FIREBAUGH, Calif. (KFSN) -- The city of Firebaugh is breaking ground on better education.

On Friday, West Hills Community College District took the first steps in building its new $40-million Firebaugh campus.

In the coming years, a dirt lot will be transformed into a new satellite campus for the Coalinga-based district.

"I'm just really excited that they are expanding the campus because it is going to be a two-story building. It is going to be a lot bigger then what we have now, a lot more than what I have coming here," says student Brandon Torres.

Taxpayer-funded bonds and donations will pay for the project, which supporters say will bring new opportunities to Firebaugh and the surrounding communities.

The two-story building will have double the space of their current facility and will include state-of-the-art laboratories.

The Fresno County Library will also be moving onto the new campus.

The current North District Center campus in Firebaugh opened in the 1970s out of necessity.

Brenda Thames, the president of West Hills College Coalinga, says the Firebaugh building is cramped, outdated and was never intended to be a college campus.

"It is a remodeled bowling alley, and when you walk the halls, you can hear the hollowness underneath your feet from walking across lanes," says Thames.

Currently, about 400 students attend classes at the Firebaugh center.

Thames says once the new campus is complete, they will be able to handle ten times more students.

They'll also have expanded and added new learning programs to choose from.

Construction has already started, and they expect to be finished in the next two years.
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