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Stimulus check will keep Fermilab open for next 20 years
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Wilson Hall is probably the most well-known landmark at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia.


Rick West | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/6/2009 12:01 AM

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One of the Kane County's largest employers will stay innovative and viable thanks to a $60.2 million funding boost from the federal stimulus package.

Fermilab Director Piermaria Oddone publicly thanked Congressman Bill Foster, a former Fermilab employee, for helping secure the money on Wednesday. The cash infusion means job security for the nearly 2,000 employees of the lab and new, short-term, jobs for the local construction industry.

"It really will move the agenda of this lab scientifically in a major way," Oddone said. "This will maintain the vitality of this lab for the next two decades. This is very, very important for setting up the laboratory on a course that is very important to us and to the community."

That course will feature a possible push to be the host site for the International Linear Collider. As the longest ever linear particle accelerator, the device would allow scientists to measure the properties of particles at an unprecedented level.

The stimulus money will indirectly amplify Fermilab's appeal as a host site by speeding up work on a plan known as Project X, which is, essentially, a scale model prototype of the International Linear Collider. The stimulus money will help create the infrastructure on the campus necessary for that project.

"This is really advancing what we would have done over the next 10 years to this year," Oddone said.

Fermilab should receive the first part of the $60.2 million within the next two weeks. Shortly after that infrastructure designs will be finalized and construction bids will go out. The work should create about 125 jobs in construction, materials and equipment needs, Foster said.