- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A state representative says she’ll attempt to find $10 million for new training and classroom space at University of Missouri’s research reactor.

The Columbia Daily Tribune (http://bit.ly/21COgpm ) reports that Republican state Rep. Donna Lichtenegger arranged for six House members to tour the reactor and hear a pitch from reactor officials Monday.

Lichtenegger, who serves as chairwoman of the House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee, previously denied a budget increase to the university for the upcoming fiscal year.

“We made a statement to the university,” Lichtenegger said at the end of the tour. “They are listening and cleaning up their act now. … We are starting to see things move forward, and I brought you here because this is one of the places at the university where great things are happening.”

Reactor officials said the $10 million is important for developing industries that use irradiated elements for medical purposes. The money would also be used to fund the construction of a 28,000-square-foot building, reactor executive director Ralph Butler told lawmakers.

Much of the previous construction at the reactor has been financed by bonds repaid through revenue from the reactor. That won’t be possible with the new building because it is designed to train people for the jobs in nuclear medicine, he said.

The reactor supplies elements that reduce bone cancer pain and treat inoperable liver cancer. They expect to soon receive approval to produce iodine-131, used for thyroid cancer, Butler said.

Chamber President Matt McCormick, who joined the tour, said the reactor is an asset that should be supported because it can bring an industry of high-paying jobs to Mid-Missouri.

“This project doesn’t put us in competition with anybody else in the state or the nation,” McCormick said.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com

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