November 13, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

Eastern Oregon Universitys science center project has received a major boost.

A total of $1 million in federal money has been designated for the construction of the center. The $1 million is in the 2002 Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

The money is part of a $5.64 million bill that provides funding for 13 community and urban development projects in Oregon communities.

U.S. Sens. Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden, and Rep. Greg Walden played critical roles in getting funding for the science center included in the bill, said Colby Marshall, Easterns coordinator of alumni and government relations.

We are very, very pleased with the help we have received from our congressional delegation. They have seen the merits of the science center and understand the impact it will have on the community and the region, Marshall said.

The 2002 VA-HUD appropriations bill has been approved by a joint House and Senate conference committee. The bill now must be passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Bush.

The $33.5 million science center will add 67,480 square feet to the Badgley science building. The center will also have a 7,500-square- foot biotech lab and a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse.

The project is being funded by state, federal and private sources. About $5 million of this will come from federal sources.

This (the $1 million) is a critical component of the project, Marshall said.

Bids for the science center are now being accepted. Construction could start as early as mid-December, Marshall said.