Months of the sounds of construction will be replaced by the hustle and bustle of 400 students moving into the new Joseph Z. and Louise H. Ornelas Residential Complex.
The nearly $30 million project is complete and ready for students to move in on Aug. 22-24. The 152,000 square foot facility is being paid for by a donation from Mr. & Mrs. Ornelas and a bond totaling over $39 million. The residents will help pay back the bond package with the $2,985 per semester fees. Other residence halls on campus cost $2,075 per semester.
The Ornelas facility is two buildings located on Blackwell Avenue near the tennis complex. Two bridges run between the two buildings over a creek that was on the land prior to the construction process.
The Ornelas Complex has many differences that will set it apart from TJC’s other residential facilities.
“In this facility, two people actually share a bath instead of a bathroom being between two rooms,” said Residential Life and Housing Director Angela Nunez.
The complex will house 452 students with ten staff members during each semester.
The rooms will come with a bed, desk, and drawers for storage, a spacious closet and a bathroom with a bath instead of a standup shower.
“We have a front desk which none of our residence halls have; it is a good safety and security issue,” said Nunez. “From midnight until noon everyday we will have a campus safety guard there ready to go.”
The facility also features lounge areas as well as a computer room for residents to use. The complex will also have a service on the Air Apache wireless internet network as well as internet connections in every room.
A game room is also set up for students to have fun with pool and ping pong tables. There will also be a sand volleyball court on the property.
Valley Food Services will be expanding to the new residential building. Valley will staff and operate a convenience store that will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
The Apache Belles moved into the complex Sunday, Aug. 10. The Belles will be staying in the fourth floor of the front building. This floor is reserved for the Belles and will also be decorated with pieces of Belles history.
The Belles will also have access to the Apache Gold Conference Room for meetings and practices.
Several other athletic groups have signed to have their players housed in the new complex. The Apache golf, athletic trainers, cheerleaders and baseball teams will soon move into the facility.
“The baseball team took the same avenue the Apache Belles did,” said Nunez. “Coach Groth and his crews worked really hard to fill those spaces, and they’ve actually needed more from time to time.”
With those teams and other students set to move in, Nunez said the buildings are almost full.
“We’re getting there. It’s getting closer everyday. We’re getting to that point to start pointing people to the waiting list,” said Nunez. “We had a lot of students come out to Apache Preview Day this year who are just juniors wanting to look at the building. I think in years to come, I don’t think there’s going to be any issue [filling the rooms].”
Katie Smith, the building’s resident director, is looking forward to working with the new resident assistants and residents to build a new community at TJC.
“The staff will have programs and things like that and I plan on training my staff to know the residents by name and by face,” said Smith.
The complex staff also encourages all students and faculty to come be a part of the building’s ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the complex on Sept. 5 from 4-6 p.m. for food, fun and giveaways.
Nunez said this building is a major step forward for her department and the college.
“I want to get TJC’s Housing Department out there,” said Nunez. “[with the complex opening] we’ll be one of the largest community college housing departments.”