U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Portland, has announced that he has secured $345,000 to build the Astoria Column interpretive center.

The funds are included in the fiscal year 2004 Department of Interior appropriations bill (H.R. 2691), which the U.S. House is considering and expected to pass soon.

"The Astoria Column is one of Oregon's cultural treasures and a new interpretive center will provide important educational and cultural information for visitors," Wu said. "I am proud to have secured funding for this important project, which will improve the tourism industry in Clatsop County."

Members of the nonprofit group Friends of the Astoria Column are also working to raise donations for the center, which is designed to be built into the side of Coxcomb Hill. Proponents say it will provide greater historical and cultural context about the Column and the Coxcomb Hill site in general.

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