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St. Charles pushes lawmakers to reverse 'devastating' Fermilab cuts
By Josh Stockinger | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/8/2008 12:18 AM

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The St. Charles city council went to bat Monday for 200 Fermilab workers whose jobs are in jeopardy because of pending federal budget cuts.

Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution urging lawmakers to reverse a decision to slash the national laboratory's funding in order to avoid "devastating consequences" for the Fox Valley.

"Laying off staff, furloughing employees and eliminating the scientific foundations of the laboratory's future will deal a crippling blow," Mayor Don DeWitte said, reading from the resolution.

Fermilab employs 114 St. Charles residents, DeWitte said. Of the total 1,960 employees, 90 percent live in the Fox Valley or western DuPage County, Fermilab said.

The facility had requested $372 million for fiscal 2008, but instead stands to get just $320 million -- or $22 million less than fiscal 2007.

The cuts, blamed on a lack of congressional representation for the area because of U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert's early retirement, are expected to result in 200 employees, or nearly 10 percent of the facility's work force, being laid off as early as April.

The funding decrease also eliminates two programs expected to secure the facility's future in the area after the 2010 shutdown of the Tevatron, the world's most powerful particle accelerator.

The St. Charles resolution coincides with similar pleas being made by officials in Batavia and Aurora, home to more than 640 Fermilab employees collectively.