Ground work is under way on the new $15.8 million Southern Utah University-Iron County Convention Student Center, although the project did not get final approval from the Utah Board of Regents until last week.

The Board of Regents recently agreed to a lease with Iron County, fulfilling a requirement put forth by the county's bonding agent, said Commissioner Jim Robinson.That done, the county will bond for $1.14 million as part of its $1.25 million contribution to the project. The county has earmarked funds from the restaurant tax to pay its share over 16 years, Robinson said.

Barbara Gittins, director of business affairs for the Utah Department of Higher Education, said the regents also approved a $4.5 million bond agreement as part of the complex funding package.

Other funding sources include $5.6 million from the state; $827,000 from student fees; $450,000 from SUU auxiliary enterprises; $639,000 from interest and other investment sources; and a private gift of $2.5 million.

"The county is excited to be part of the project," Robinson said. "We're glad it's all together and going ahead."

The new complex - to be completed in January 1997 - will include a walkway between the new facility and the Centrum and will be lined with private shops. Plans also call for a two-level bookstore, a small auditorium, a theater and administrative offices for student services.

The convention bureau portion will include a 12,000-square-foot ballroom that can hold up to a 1,000 people.

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