Heritage University Turns a Crisis Into an Opportunity - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Heritage University Turns a Crisis Into an Opportunity

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TOPPENISH, Wash.--Last July was a rough time for Heritage University in Toppenish after they lost the original campus building in a bad fire.
"It was 105 degrees in the valley that day and those firemen were heroes, I tell you," said John Bassett, the President of Heritage University. "Because they kept the fire from expanding beyond that one building. If it had caught fire on other buildings, we would have been in real trouble."
On Monday, it will be exactly one year since Heritage University in Toppenish lost its oldest building in a big fire. Petrie Hall held classrooms, the cafeteria, bookstore, and all the technical facilities.
"As sad as it was, it brought the campus together and it was wonderful how the technology people, the physical plant people, the leadership ground in the university kind of came together on rebuilding," said Bassett.
The university president said they're getting close to finalizing reconstruction plans, which will include three new buildings. One for classrooms, one for the dining area and one for IT facilities.
Bassett said rebuilding gives them an opportunity to model the new structures after students needs and put them in a more accessible location. The designs are there. Now all that's needed is the funding.
"We go about finding the people that care about Heritage University and the future," said Bassett.
The president said the community has been very generous in the past and as soon as the funding is in place, construction could start in the fall.
Bassett said the three new buildings will cost around $9 million. Once they receive their settlement from the insurance company, the school will know how much more they need to raise.