College gets land for energy research center
USU Eastern just got bigger - 25 acres bigger to be exact. The growth has come about because a gift of land in east Price that is intended to become home to an energy research and education center.
The donation came from Bob Henrie, a principal in R&R Partners, a marketing, public and government relations firm. Paul Washburn, who has often worked with Henrie on projects, was instrumental in putting the package together.
The announcement came from USU President Stan Albrecht at 73rd annual Founder's Day banquet Saturday in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center on the Price campus. "We are creating the opportunity for USU to bring, in greater measure, its land-grant mission to this part of eastern Utah," Albrecht said.
That mission, stated in the Morrill Act of 1862, was to provide higher education "for the children of those who toil," Albrecht reminded the 250 members of the audience.
The proposed research center would follow in the footsteps of a similar USU research institute in Uintah County. "We're going to do the same thing here in Price," declared Gov. Gary Herbert, who attended the evening event to compliment those who worked to make the gift possible: Henrie, Washburn, Albrecht, college chancellor Joe Peterson, and Price mayor Joe Piccolo.
The governor said that the combination of community, college and donors is an example of public-private cooperation. "Unprecedented partnerships lead to unlimited opportunities," Herbert stated. He added that while Utah is outpacing the nation in job creation, he is still concerned about the communities off the Wasatch Front. "Rural Utah will not be forgotten," he assured the listeners.
In an interview Monday, Piccolo made no attempt to hide his enthusiasm. "This is the most significant event to happen to our college since 1937," the mayor declared. He predicted that the research center, when built, will augment the work already being done at Vernal. It will bring Carbon County and the Uinta Basin closer in terms of cooperation.
Henrie said Monday that he's excited about the prospects, believing that the land and the research center offer "great hope for the community.
While the building itself is not on the drawing board, it is good to know that the governor and the university are committed to it, Piccolo noted. There is still work to be done in working with and within the community to define the scope and mission of the center.
The city has already begun work on a road around the property, which stretches all the way from Cedar Hills Drive at about 400 North and extends to Airport Road. There will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the road Friday at noon at the Cedar Hills access point.