Director helps improve campus environment

By Bryce Ronquillo

The Plant Facilities Department at East Los Angeles College has been involved with the school’s expansion and visual improvement under the direction of Abel Rodriguez.

The Plant Facilities Department is in charge of health and safety emergencies, energy management, custodial services, building maintenance, campus grounds, campus security, warehouse and locksmith.

Rodriguez, who has been the director since March of 2014, said that when he arrived, President Marvin Martinez told him to ask the departments what that needed.

Since then, Rodriguez has been working endlessly to help improve the campus environment.

“There were things around the college that needed attention. With the help of the departments and the student body, I was able to make a list of things that needed to be taken care of,” Rodriguez said.

The most dramatic change is the greenery around campus. It was very important to Rodriguez and his team that the campus looked attractive to students.

The lawn in between the E3 and E7 building was one of those additions.

“The connecting areas create unity around  the campus. If we have nice facilities, but ugly connecting areas, the level of satisfaction is low,” Rodriguez said.

Having an eco-friendly campus has also been a priority of the Plants Facilities Department.

Solar panels were placed on the G1, G3, H9, D5, C1 buildings and the stadium parking lot.

Lights in the gyms have been replaced with LED light bulbs.

New sprinklers that conserve water were also installed.

“There is a conscious effort by the college to be environmentally responsible,” Rodriguez said.

This work would not have been accomplished without the administration allowing Rodriguez to expand his staff.

“I had five gardeners, now I have nine. We didn’t have general foremen, now we have two,” Rodriguez said.

Some of the future projects for Rodriguez involve renovations to Weingart Stadium.

“We noticed that the track is in bad condition. It is risky to have people running on it,” Rodriguez said. “Luckily, we have the funding, so this summer, we can replace the track.”

The new track will be very unique compared to other schools’.

This track will be made out of a new material that is the color grey.

The current track is eight years old, and before that, it was dirt.

“We are going to provide the best surface for this new track,” Rodriguez said. “The contract includes a 10-year maintenance plan, so in 11 years we will have a new track.”

Rodriguez said he got the idea to change track materials from visiting El Camino-Compton Center’s track.

After seeking expert advice he composed a plan and presented to the administration, who provided the funding for the new track.

“There’s (ECCC) is red, ours will be grey. It is going to look awesome.” Rodriguez said.   

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