Years of dreaming, planning, and work are about to finally show results.

Or as West Hills College President Dr. Carla Tweed remarked, “The home stretch is happening.”

That “home stretch” is the completion of the West Hills College Firebaugh Center.

The ambitious project, right in the middle of Firebaugh, is scheduled to be completed so new students can attend classes at the campus this August.  The original ‘campus’ dates back to the 1970s and was originally called the North District Center.  It was basically four classrooms owned by the local school district.

But times have changed as has the name.

The new Firebaugh Center is a 41,000 square foot facility, replacing the 11,100 square foot center that once housed a bowling alley.

Voters in the West Hills College District, which stretches from Lemoore to Coalinga to Firebaugh, approved a bond to build the new facility, and ground breaking took place in February of 2020.

The $40 million project is, of course, state-of-the-art.  A tour led by Tweed and Firebaugh Center Dean Bethany Matos highlighted just how ambitious and extensive the new campus will be.

The new center has indoor and outdoor classrooms and will allow students access to the newest technology, labs, and high speed internet.

“We are planning to offer medical, agricultural, business, and transfer programs that will help prepare students for in-demand jobs that offer living wages,” Matos said.

Prior to Covid, about 400 students attended classes at the Firebaugh Center, according to Matos.

“Once the new center is complete, we will be able to handle 10 times more students,” she said. 

The center will also house a branch of the Fresno County library as well as a field office for the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

“This will truly be a ‘game changer’ for the Westside,” Matos said.  “Students will be able to complete transfer course work and certificates/degrees without having to drive far.  The center will also provide a space for resources like a Falcon Food Pantry, career exploration, and student support programs.  Services will be at the fingertips of our students and the community.”
Tweed said that there will be plenty of room to grow as West Hills continues its mission to help students find a pathway to success after high school graduation.

Tweed and Matos pointed out that Westside high school students are taking full advantage of the services that West Hills offers.  Tweed said that she attended a ceremony in Tranquility last week where nine seniors who will be graduating this week also attained an associate of arts degree through the college.

Firebaugh High announced that five of its seniors attained A.A. degrees.

And from Mendota 20 seniors have already wrapped up two years of college credit with their A.A. Those numbers make Tweed and Matos proud since they are also West Hills College graduates.

David Borboa