Hartnell Community College District Trustee Candi DePauw (center) cuts the ribbon alongside other board members and local officials last Thursday celebrating the recent expansion of the King City Education Center. (Contributed Photo)

KING CITY — Hartnell College Foundation invited donors to its King City Education Center expansion last Thursday for a luncheon and ribbon-cutting ceremony, celebrating completion of an 18-month project that doubled the size of the downtown center.

Hartnell Community College District Trustee Candi DePauw, whose District 7 includes King City, cut the ribbon on the 12,500-square-foot addition, which opened this summer and began holding face-to-face classes on Aug. 30.

Speaking on behalf of the entire Hartnell Governing Board, DePauw said, “We’re all proud that the day has come in King City when we’re able to have this facility to offer for our students.”

The center’s new wing includes wet and dry science labs, essential for courses in the science and engineering fields and many agricultural programs, as well as two additional state-of-the-art classrooms, a Community Room and a tutoring center known as the Panther Learning Lab.

King City resident Susan Gill, a Hartnell College Foundation board member and chair of the King City Expansion Committee, announced that the fundraising drive has exceeded its $1 million goal and is approaching $1.2 million. The money will help fund center operations over the next five years.

Recalling a building tour for prospective donors last December, Gill said, “We could see the basic layout, and we were amazed by what we say, but seeing it today, it’s so beautiful — with the stunning architecture, the beautiful finishes and the furniture. It’s a tremendous feeling to be part of this, and I know all of you feel the same way. It’s such a wonderful addition to the King City community.”

Gill noted that naming gifts for the center’s labs, classrooms and other facilities reflect the support of Hartnell employees and graduates and many King City-area companies.

“They all believe in Hartnell, and they believe in changing the lives of our local students and families,” she said.

She specifically thanked fellow members of the expansion committee: John Romans, Mary Orradre, Natalie Rava, Paulette Bumbalough, Mikel Ann Miller, John Buttgereit, Margaret Duflock and Nate Holaday.

Hartnell College student Raquel Arredondo of King City shares how the newly expanded King City Education Center will help her and other students during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 14. (Contributed Photo)

Construction of the center expansion was funded through the Measure T bond, approved in 2016 by Hartnell district voters. The money also paid for construction of Hartnell’s new education center in Soledad, which will host a grand-opening celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 23. 

Other Measure T projects include an education center in Castroville, a center for nursing and health sciences on Hartnell’s Main Campus in Salinas, as well as classroom modernization and other renovation projects on that campus.

Other event speakers included current King City student Raquel Arredondo, a participant in the Teacher Pathway Program, who said, “I want to thank all the supporters that brought the King City center to fruition, giving the current and future students of South County an opportunity to expand their knowledge and achieve their goals.”

Hartnell Interim Superintendent/President Raul Rodriguez said the addition of new facilities in the King City center’s expansion, “means we’re going to be able to open up new opportunities for students here, new majors, and help students get degrees and be able to start and finish here.”

Being able to offer a combination of in-person and online classes creates “a new model for the future, where we can take education out to our community and have it be where students don’t have a distance to travel,” Rodriguez said. “They can start here and also take classes online.”

Monterey County District 3 Supervisor Chris Lopez, a Hartnell alum, described how he began his college education at the King City center, pre-expansion.

“The original building is where I took the courses I needed to get into the university where I wanted to go for my four-year degree — here at home in King City, thanks to the vision of so many people,” Lopez said. “If I had had to travel to Salinas to do those courses, it wouldn’t have happened for me. Hartnell has opened doors. And with the expansion, we’re doing so much more.”

King City Mayor Mike LeBarre presented a proclamation approved by the City Council declaring Oct. 15, 2021, Higher Learning Awareness Day, which states in part, “The City of King City, California, and the Hartnell Community College District share a belief that higher education is vital for preparing citizens for high-wage careers in a strong and diverse regional workforce.”

Article submitted by Scott Faust, Communications Director for Hartnell College.

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