Funeral home could replace early childhood center

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Mortuary science sophomores Samantha Gomez and Jimmy Sandoval prepare instruments before working on cadavers Sept. 25 in Nail. Gomez said they will flip the cadaver in the tank, where they keep them, to dissect. Deandra Gonzalez

Coordinators will approve room designs for the funeral home at a new location.

By Rogelio Escamilla

The mortuary science program has changed the location of the proposed funeral home from the Ashby House to the early childhood studies location next door because of cost and building limitations.

The funeral home completion date and projected cost are unknown because of this change, mortuary science Coordinator Jose Luis Moreno said Sept. 17 in an interview.

“We are still in the dreaming phase,” Moreno said. “We haven’t discussed money yet. With big dreams, comes lots of challenges. I think we are happy with the progress that we are making.”

Moreno said a community college operating a funeral home is “very unusual.”

“There are some mortuary science programs that embalm for local funeral homes,” Moreno said. “To my knowledge, I don’t think there is another mortuary science program with a funeral home on campus in the United States.”

The funeral home would ideally offer the same services as a local funeral home, Moreno said.

This includes traditional services, cremation services and donated body processing.

Traditional services usually involve a visitation, an evening service, a trip to the church and then a cemetery.

“Of course, we have limitations,” Moreno said. “We will need vehicles. As of right now we have a minivan that works as a hearse. Later on, we might need to rent, lease or buy our own.”

Moreno also said the funeral home would give mortuary science students the experience they need for their careers after college.

“It will benefit our students,” Moreno said. “They will practice. They will have marketable skills and the confidence that is needed to go out into any funeral home.”

The early childhood studies program and child-care center are expected to move to a new building complex to be constructed on the site of the tennis courts at San Pedro and Park Avenues in fall 2020, early childhood studies Coordinator Terri Sinclair said Sept. 18.

The early childhood studies center will be housed in the college’s third parking garage, and plans have called for the tennis courts to be relocated to the top of the parking garage.

This structure is part of a $450 million bond package passed by voters in May 2017.

Mortuary science sophomore Sandra Trevino reconstructs the face of a man during a Reconstructive Art class Sept. 24 in Nail. The class chose this face because it was well-proportioned and had no wrinkles. Deandra Gonzalez

The old building at 210 W. Ashby Place is expected to be demolished to make room for the funeral home, which will likely allow for a larger and less expensive funeral home than was planned for the Ashby House, Moreno said.

The Ashby House is at 218 W. Ashby Place.

“We had lots of limitations,” Moreno said. “We couldn’t remove certain things. The money that was going to be invested to renovate the building did not fit our needs. We could have bigger rooms for the same amount of money.”

Moreno said the chapel in the Ashby House measured at 550 square feet, but the new location’s chapel could be upgraded to 4,000 square feet, depending on cost restrictions.

“The chapel we were going to have was going to be smaller,” Moreno said. “Not because we didn’t want to expand, but because we didn’t have the room to.”

Three college administrators are also involved in the design approval process.

They are Vernell Walker, dean of academic success; Dr. Francisco Solis, dean of performance excellence; and Dr. Stella Lovato, vice president of college services.

They will set a meeting date to review and approve the architect’s new plans soon, Moreno said.


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