July 11, 2001 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Eastern Oregon University will not lose time in making expansion of its science building a reality.

A ground-breaking ceremony is tentatively set for Aug. 13.

Once construction starts, the building may be complete in about 18 months, said EOU assistant vice president for University Advancement Tim Seydel.

State funding of $23.5 million for the building was provided by the Legislature, which provided a $400 million capital construction budget for the states universities. Gov. John Kitzhaber is expected to sign the bill later this month.

For the project, $9 million will come from lottery bonding, which will be paid back from proceeds from the states lottery earnings. Another $14.5 million will come from G Bonds, which are paid off though the Oregon University Systems operating budget, financed through the states general fund.

Once Kitzhaber signs SB 5525 Eastern will begin a private fund-raising campaign for the science building. Eastern hopes to raise about $4 million in private funds for the science building. In addition Eastern is seeking $5.5 million in federal funding.

If Kitzhaber signs SB 5525, a formal announcement of the securing of the state funds will be made at 4 p.m. July 27 at Eastern.

House Speaker Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, and State Sen. David Nelson, R-Pendleton, will make the announcement. Simmons and Nelson played important roles in securing state funding for the building, said Colby Marshall, Easterns coordinator of government and alumni affairs.

Marshall also credits a number of community leaders outside Eastern with playing important roles in getting the Legislature to back the science building project. He said when people not connected to EOU testified in support of the science building, legislators realized how much the facility would do for the region.

EOU plans to add 67,480 square feet to its current Badgley science building of 30,090 square feet, plus a biotech lab of 7,500 square feet and a greenhouse of 5,000 square feet.

The officials who will attend the Aug. 13 ceremony include Congressmen Greg Walden, R-Oregon, Simmons and Nelson.