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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obey seeks $2M for projects, including renewable energy

From an article by Nathaniel Shuda in the Stevens Point Journal:

In his last batch of funding requests before his retirement, U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau, is seeking almost $2 million in earmarks for Portage County.

Four of the 85 projects Obey submitted for consideration in the 2011 federal budget are specific to the county, with several focused on central Wisconsin and others on statewide projects.

Despite being a retiring congressman, the likelihood Obey's projects will get funding remains relatively high, given his seniority in the House of Representatives and position as Appropriations Committee chairman, said Ed Miller, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

"It's more difficult when you're going out of office, but given that he's the chairman of the committee, I think he's going to handle it well," Miller said.

Among the projects, which the Appropriations Committee and full House and Senate still must approve, are funds to help the UWSP Institute for Sustainable Technology, Project Learn Program, redevelopment in the city of Stevens Point and the continued reconstruction of Highway 10.

Among other projects in central Wisconsin is an expanded renewable energy center at Mid-State Technical College.

Mid-State's board of directors recently approved a $2 million renewable energy center at its Wisconsin Rapids campus, but that could more than double if Congress approves another $4.5 million Obey requested for the project.

"It will allow us to basically complete the whole project," said Al Javoroski, dean of Mid-State's technical and industrial division, who still expressed some hesitation after Congress rejected a $20 million request in 2009.

"The big picture is we're going to do what we need to (in order) to support our renewable energy initiative."

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