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SOU stands to get $2 million from state stimulus package

Southern Oregon University stands to get almost $2 million for deferred maintenance projects if the $175 million state stimulus package is approved.

Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland and co-chair of the Ways and Means Committee, said Friday that he is "very confident" that the stimulus package will pass when it goes before the state Senate today and the House of Representatives Thursday. Buckley expects the proposal to be on the governor's desk by Friday, he said.

"This is vital now. We need to prime the pump of the economy," Buckley said. "This is a tool that the state has to help people retain jobs, to create jobs and to get work done on our basic infrastructure that will last for many years and benefit us for many years."

Under the proposal, SOU would get $1.93 million to repair aging campus buildings. Construction to replace roofs, upgrade elevators and modernize classrooms would start in February.

About $610,000 of the funds would go to replace the roofs at Central Hall, McNeal Pavilion, the theater building and the music building, according to the proposal. SOU would also receive $200,000 to modernize the Churchill Hall classrooms and about $54,000 to upgrade elevators at Churchill Hall and the Education/Psychology building, under the plan.

The state's stimulus package would create jobs in Ashland, said Jim Beaver, spokesman for SOU.

"We're very pleased that Representative Buckley is optimistic this will pass," he said this morning. "Typically the university is allocated a couple of million dollars every biennium for maintenance work, but rather than wait for the new biennium in July this means that we can start work very quickly."

The school could start maintenance work as soon as the funds are allocated, Beaver said.

The Oregon Department of Transportation would also receive nearly $50,000 to work on deferred maintenance in Ashland, according to the state plan.

Rogue Community College in Medford stands to receive $4 million in bond funding under the stimulus proposal.

On Friday state Senate Republicans unveiled their own stimulus plan, which would "simply give Oregonians part of their tax refunds now, rather than next year," according to a release from the Senate Republican Office. The plan also includes selling $1 billion in bonds to fund state projects and create jobs, according to the release.

Staff writer Hannah Guzik can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.