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Earmarks will help COC, Newhall Memorial

University Center, helipad among projects planned with funds

Posted: March 15, 2009 1:27 a.m.
Updated: March 15, 2009 4:30 a.m.

The federal spending bill recently signed by President Obama includes funds for the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center at College of the Canyons. The center is scheduled to receive $238,000 to help purchase technological devises as well as furniture.

 
Trails, computers and helicopters. Money from the spending bill signed last week by President Barack Obama is set to flow into the Santa Clarita Valley through several channels.

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, had a hand in securing $6 million-plus in earmarks, several of which directly benefit the valley.

College of the Canyons is looking forward to $238,000 set aside for the college's permanent 110,000-square-foot University Center, set to open this fall on the Valencia campus.

Already operating in temporary classrooms, the center offers degree programs from California State University, Bakersfield; California State University, Northridge; University of La Verne; National University; Chapman University; and the University of California, Los Angeles.

The earmark will help purchase computers, classroom projectors and furniture, Vice President Barry Gribbons said.

"This money will enable us to buy equipment and make it as functional as possible," he said.

The largest source of funding for the center has been state money, to the tune of more than $20 million, in addition to more than $3 million in private donations.

The final price tag is expected to be around $35 million.

Looking to the northeast end of the valley, $500,000 will help purchase land to re-align the Pacific Crest Trail in the Agua Dulce area.

The trail, which stretches more than 2,600 miles from the California/Mexico border north into Washington, runs along the road between Vasquez Rocks and Sierra Highway, said Liz Bergeron, executive director of the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

The half-million dollars in the spending bill was secured by the United States Forest Service and will be allocated to the trail association to buy land.

Moving the trail off the road has so far taken about a decade, Bergeron said. Five parcels of land have been purchased already, and about six remain.

"We have made excellent progress," she said Friday.

An earmark of $333,000 will land at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, to be spent on a helipad, which the hospital has lacked for several years.

"(The funds) that Congressman McKeon helped secure for our helipad are very much appreciated," hospital spokeswoman Andie Bogdan wrote in an e-mail Friday.

"It's our hope the efforts to stimulate the economy in the next few years will be successful, because we will need to borrow money in 2011 or 2012 for construction of the new hospital building.

"We won't see the money for the helipad until we're moving along on the project," she said. "We've got a lot of federal paperwork to do for this, which will be a doozy."

The hospital is still in the early stages of a years-long expansion project at its Valencia campus, the centerpiece of which will be a several-story-tall patient tower with a rooftop helipad.

The landing spot is necessary for the valley's only hospital to retain its status as a regional trauma center.

McKeon, whose 25th Congressional District is one of the largest in the state, also secured funding for projects in the Antelope and Victor valleys.

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