December 20, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

Eastern Oregon Universitys $33.5 million science center project is on the verge of receiving its third major boost this month.

The U.S. Senate Thursday passed an appropriations bill from the Labor, Health and Human Services Education conference committee that includes $500,000 for the science center. Construction of the center on the north side of the campus is expected to begin early next year.

The Senate passed the bill 90-7.

The House must approve the legislation and then President Bush must sign it. This could happen within a week, said Colby Marshall, EOUs coordinator of alumni and government relations.

Marshall said that support received from Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Pendleton, and Ron Wyden, D-Portland, and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, have played a key role in the advancement of the bill.

Marshall said that support that people in Eastern Oregon have expressed for the center also played an important part in the success of the appropriations bill to date.

Our federal delegation heard the message loud and clear, Marshall said.

The science center project will add 67,480 square feet to EOUs current Badgley Hall science building of 30,090 square-feet. A 7,500-square-foot biotech lab and a 5,000-square-foot greenhouse will also be built.

Earlier this month the center received a $500,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust. A few days earlier David Huber, a 1974 EOU graduate, announced he was donating $500,000 for the project.

The lions share of funding for the center is coming from the State of Oregon.