By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Montana State University-Northern is getting some help from Montana's congressional delegation to purchase equipment for the Applied Technology Center being built at the university.
The office U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said Wednesday the appropriations bill for the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, which moved out of the House Appropriations Committee last week, will include $200,000 for equipment for the ATC.
"These funds, which will help stimulate regional growth and economic development, represent an important investment in the local community, as well as Montana's economy," Rehberg said in a press release.
The $200,000 request will be included in an amendment to the bill when it goes to the floor of the House in September, Rehberg spokesman Brad Keena said today.
The money is being added at the request of Northern, Keena said.
J.P. Donovan, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., said today that Burns also supports the funding in the VA-HUD appropriations bill. When the bill comes to the Senate, Burns will work to make sure the $200,000 remains in the bill, Donovan said.
Construction of the Applied Technology Center by Clausen and Sons of Havre began in June. The center will provide a centralized multidisciplinary laboratory for the College of Technical Sciences at Northern, including computerized testing and design facilities and multimedia instructional equipment.
The ATC, the first state-funded building approved for Northern since the Vande Bogart Library was built in 1979, will be between Brockmann Center and the farm mechanics building, splitting College Road into two cul-de-sacs.
Greg Kegel, dean of the College of Technical Sciences, said earlier this year that funding for all of the equipment for the center has not been found.
Kegel could not be reached for contact this morning.
Keena said Rehberg will support any future requests for funding for the ATC.
"(Rehberg) understands the Hi-Line and rural Montana. Funding like this makes a significant difference in putting high-tech equipment into that facility," MSU-N Chancellor Alex Capdeville said in the press release from Rehberg's office. Capdeville could not be reached for comment today.
Keena said Capdeville told him Wednesday that receiving support from Congress for equipping the ATC will encourage support from businesses and corporations.
Northern already has received support from many of its partners in private industry to build and equip the center, and the university will continue to solicit support, Kegel has said.
The original plan for the center called for $4.12 million in state funds with the university raising an additional $8 million to add facilities to the basic design.
The 2001 Legislature slashed that funding idea, giving Northern $2 million contingent on the university finding a $2 million match.
The federal Economic Development Administration provided $1 million of the match, and the Montana State University-Northern Foundation found the rest in private and corporate donations from across the country, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from local people and businesses.
Kegel said the ATC had to be redesigned, but it lost no laboratory space.
The original design included many classrooms and office space, while the new design concentrates on high-tech laboratories, including space that can test a 1,000-horsepower diesel engine 24 hours a day, space to test engine emissions, a laboratory for advanced engine electronics, and a laboratory to design and build prototype equipment.