Groundbreaking celebrates future Hays Campus first responder center

New Hays Campus facilities will prepare students for critical jobs in law enforcement and emergency medical services.

Community leaders and friends joined Austin Community College May 9 to break ground on a new first responder training center at ACC’s Hays Campus.

First responders at Hays groundbreaking

Area first responders joined the groundbreaking celebration.

While architectural renderings provided guests with a glimpse of the state-of-the-art facilities to come, the focus of the celebration was on the police officers, emergency medical technicians, and firefighters who will benefit from the new center.

“We want to make sure we meet the needs of the communities we serve,” said ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes. “The service and dedication of our police and emergency management agencies keep our communities safe. They have been tremendous partners in making this center happen.”

View photos from the groundbreaking event below.

The Hays phase 2 project comprises two buildings totaling 40,000 square feet and an emergency vehicles operations track on 19 acres. The center will include a 50-yard tactical indoor firing range and simunitions training space for police SWAT-type exercises. It is expected to be completed by summer 2018.

Kyle City Council Member Travis Mitchell said the center addresses the challenge of providing the best-possible training for criminal justice professionals. Like all of ACC’s career and technical programs, he said, the instruction offered at the campus will prepare students for real-world jobs that match real-world needs.

Hays HS criminal justice club

Members of the Hays High School Criminal Justice Club with ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes.

Michael McKie, superintendent of Hays Consolidated ISD, said the Hays campus symbolizes the partnership that brought the Buda and Kyle communities together to form one school district 50 years ago.

“The story of the next 50 years will include tens of thousands of students who excel throughout their lives because of the foundations they create in Hays CISD and ACC,” he said.

ACC alumna and Leander police officer Autumn Kessler closed the program by describing her decision to pursue a career in law enforcement and enroll in ACC’s Criminal Justice Program. She reflected on the popular first responder analogy, “I am a Sheepdog.”

“I wanted to make an impact, like so many of us who get into this profession,” she said. “We’re here to make a difference in the community. We’re here to make an impact, leave a mark and that’s exactly what I wanted to do.” The mother of a young son, Kessler was able to continue working full-time while earning her degree.

“It was really an amazing opportunity that ACC afforded me to be able to do all that.”

ACC Hays Phase 2 Groundbreaking

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