Castroville will soon have its first college facility proving its community members access to college credit classes, adult education, labs and a community meeting place.
Hartnell Education Center in Castroville is expected to open in Spring 2022, but It didn’t take long for construction to start on the site.
A shovel ceremony was held on Oct. 22 for the new 13,750 square-foot building.
In 2016, an approved $167 million bond was passed under the Hartnell Community College District which benefited the building of this site.
“It’s a good project. You got a local college, you got a local architect, and you have a local builder — Dilbeck & Sons (Inc),” Monterey County Supervisor John Phillips said. “I am all up for making sure that we’re providing county and Hartnell jobs, or go to local contractors so we can keep our economy thriving.”
Among some of the early champions of the project were Phillips and Manuel Osorio, the outgoing Hartnell Community College Governing Board trustee for Area 1.
“To know that we broke ground and the facility is being built… we are all elated by the fact that we now have something up here,” Osorio said. “We’re hoping it will bring a lot of new ideas to the community… we’re hoping that the other areas will work with the center.”
During a recent Hartnell Governing Board meeting President Raul Rodriguez recognized Osorio as the “Padrino” (godfather) of the center.
“He is the Padrino of the Castroville center. He is the champion of North County. Your heart and soul is in that center, and we’re never going to forget it,” Rodriguez said. “You’re a part of that center forevermore. Because it’s the house that Manuel built. It’s the casa de Manuel.”
With a little over 6,000 residents, the project will also benefit the surrounding communities of Moss Landing, Prunedale, and Aromas.
“Up until about 10 years ago, North County wasn’t utilizing Hartnell they were going to Monterey Peninsula College or not going at all or going somewhere else,” Phillips said. “It’s going to be beneficial to our local economy but the big benefit is just having easy and quick access to educational opportunities.”
Kari Yeater, North Monterey County Unified School District (NMCUSD) superintendent, spoke about the ways the district and Hartnell are working together to provide the best educational support for local students.
“NMCUSD has a dynamic partnership with Hartnell College promoting Career Technical Education pathways and college readiness,” she said. “Hartnell invited our Learning Director Emily Tsai-Brownfield and our Facilities and Planning Director Rick Diaz to ensure the new center could provide classes and resources for our high school students and adult education students.”
The $13 million project will include a student success center to provide tutoring. The facility will also have wet and dry labs where experiments and analysis can be performed. The sit is home to three classrooms with technology and a flexible sitting, as well as a meeting room for the community.
“This new center will no doubt greatly accelerate opportunities for our students in their own backyard and really makes a statement to our community about education and what they can achieve in the future,” Yeater said.
Excited to see the building prosper, Osorio plans on staying involved.
“I’m personally going to be visiting it as often as I can to see how things are going,” he said. “I’m still a community member here and my wife and I are both educators.”
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