Myers pressing for WIU money

Lisa Lipscomb

Last Wednesday State Rep. Rich Myers, R-Colchester, introduced an amendment to House Bill 197 that would secure an additional $850,200 for repair of the boiler system at WIU.Currently, WIU owns six boilers: Three are gas-fired and three are coal-fired. All of the boilers can be used to supply the campus with steam. Heating, cooling and water supply are a few uses they serve.

According to Ed Krahan, assistant director of the Physical Plant, right now only one coal-fired burner is in operation.

Two burners should be running but “the major component of one is in many pieces,” Krahan said.

WIU owns three back-up boilers, but if the natural gas boilers go down there is no back-up.

“The current back-up system is not very consistent or dependable,” Myers said.

Krahan said the reliability of the boilers is highly suspect. If the one boiler which is running fails, there is no back-up. Thus, parts of the campus could be temporarily shut down as a result.

The WIU boilers are over 30 years old, according to Myers.

“There have been problems with the boilers for about a year,” Krahan said.

There is no money in the capital projects budget so Myers is trying to obtain it through the general revenue.

The House and Senate need to pass the same bill in order for WIU to secure the funds. Right now both have passed separate bills and are discussing what actions to take next.

“The bill could be denied if people don’t think it is a high enough priority,” Myers said.

Many other universities are seeking money and each has different interests and priorities, but Myers is still optimistic the bill will pass.

Last year $500,000 went to repairing a coal-fire boiler.

The original budget was for $600,000, but the Board of Higher Education decided against giving WIU the funds.

This year an additional $825,000 is needed to complete the repairs for two of the boilers, Myers said, and now is an opportune time to address the issue.