The long dream of a real community college center in Brookings has turned the corner toward reality. The deed for 10 acres at Lone Ranch, donated by U.S. Borax, has been officially signed over and accepted by the Southwestern Oregon Community College Board.
That’s a very real breakthrough for the college. Congratulations are due all around to those who have already put so much time, energy and encouragement into the dream.
Having the deed means construction can be put out for bid, grants for additional funding can be submitted, and the press for public donations be made in earnest.
There’s a gap, you see, between what can be built with the state funds on hand and what the college believes this community needs for a solid economic future. In size, it’s the difference between 17,000 square feet and 24,000 square feet. In dollars, it’s about $2.3 million out of a $7 million project.
What serves as a community college program in Brookings now is the old public library – two classrooms and a computer lab. What can’t be handled there is farmed out to other borrowed spaces, such as Brookings-Harbor High School. Many Brookings students who want full-time course work go to Coos Bay to study, and often live, on the main campus there.
The Brookings project will bring our community a “campus within a building.” In terms of facilities, that means not just classrooms, but also office space, flexible training labs, student commons and a community room. In terms of students, their education and the future of the community, it means the community college can finally provide more than what has felt like “outreach” from 100 miles away.
This community needs this building – this campus – for a future that means educating students here, training workers here, designing programs to fit the needs here. This week, the dream started to become that very real future.