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Truckee Sierra College campus almost open

Katherine Morris

The days of limited facilities, classtimes geared towards night owls and an administrative office that resembles a closet will soon be a thing of the past for students, faculty and staff at Sierra College’s Truckee branch.

After years of making due with whatever scraps of space and time that Tahoe-Truckee High School had to offer, the community college will soon have a home of its own in a brand new, $900,000 state-of-the-art facility on Pioneer Trail.

“This is so exciting for us,” said Administrative Coordinator for the Truckee Branch, Joanne Zahn, as she motioned to the massive wooden and corrugated steel classroom structure behind her.

“For so long now, we’ve felt like we’ve been under-serving the Truckee community. This will really allow us to establish our own presence here, as well as better serve the public. It’s also going to be nice to be able to give our students a place of their own rather than having to send them to the high school.”

After completion, the new Truckee branch of the Rocklin, California-based school will serve anywhere from 500-600 students, diversify course offerings and increase the school’s hours of operation.

“Now, we’ll be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., as opposed to before, when we were open to students from 6-10 p.m.,” said Nilo Velazquez, program manager in charge of special programs, services and economic development, who’s heading up the project. “Right now we’re just really pushing our crews to get this thing done as fast as possible so we can move people in. We’ve only been building for 60 days at this point, so it’s really amazing that we’ve come this far already.”

Although the 7,200, square-foot facility won’t be ready for at least another month or so, the college is holding a special grand opening celebration next Tuesday, Aug. 27, to give the community a glimpse of what’s to come.

“We’re going to set up a big tent in the parking lot, as well as give tours of the school,” he said.

Those tours will take people through the spacious art lab, two computer labs, an administrative office, conference center and three large “smart classrooms” specially wired and tricked out to accommodate the latest in technology.

“We’re also putting a little courtyard area with tables under the trees so students can study, have lunch and visit outside,” Velazquez said.

Down the road, Zahn said the school is likely to expand and utilize space in other buildings in the Pioneer Commerce Center that houses the new facility.

“We’ll definitely be renting out additional space for our popular EMT program,” Zahn said. “That program is really important in this area with all of the fire departments and ski resorts that need such staff, and we’d like to keep expanding it.”

According to Ciro Mancuso, the local developer in charge of the project construction, the actual design of the facility was structured around keeping with the surrounding natural environment.

“The architecture is extremely functional in style,” Mancuso said. “We’ve worked hard to give it a real rustic, Truckee feel so that it fits with the area.”

Down the road, the school is looking to hire a dean for the site, who will help assess community needs and expand the school to meet those needs, Zahn said.

“This is going to be such a better facility for our students as well as our teachers,” Zahn said. “We’re hoping it will keep our students here, rather than having them leave the area for other schools. We’re hopeful that this is the start of what will be a full-service campus.”

“We want the community to know that we’re paying close attention to their needs and wants,” Velazquez said. “They’ve been asking for something like this for a long time and we’re just happy to finally be able to do something about it.”

The Sierra College Truckee Center Grand Opening will be held Tuesday, Aug. 27, from 3-8 p.m. The event will feature tours, activities, speakers, refreshments and more. The new facility is located at 10725 Pioneer Trail, Building A, in the Pioneer Commerce Center. For more information, please contact Joanne Zahn at 587-3849.


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