THE MODERATOR – Winter 1998

From the Control Room

Lyle Wilhelmi
President, BRMA

Under the leadership of Jerry Woodcock, our previous president (who now holds the honored office of Past President), we came from “we want B Reactor set aside as a museum” to “now we have it set aside, so what can we do with it?” That is a gigantic step.

DOE-RL now seeks BRMA’s comments on historic preservation reports. BRMA has a Memorandum of Understanding with DOE for cooperative development of BRMA’s objectives. PNNL has included me on the team to identify historic artifacts during its building walks-through. Now we are notified of each planned B Reactor tour so that we can offer our assistance. We have an office in Bechtel’s building. We have turned inertia to momentum, and now must keep things moving.

That is our challenge in 1998. We must continue to reassure DOE-RL that we have the talent and the resources to provide B Reactor tour support. Tours are becoming such an important part of our activities that we need a Tours Director. We must continue our effort to obtain artifacts from DOE for creating dioramas at B Reactor. We must continue with the oral history project, which is the crown jewel in our contributions to the interpretation of Hanford’s history, especially that of B Reactor’s. Because of the advancing age of those with first-hand knowledge of B Reactor in its early days, this project becomes more urgent with each passing day.

All of these activities require dedicated leaders to keep these projects moving along as quickly as possible. Our membership is full of old-timers who remember what took place and the atmosphere of the time. They have been a great strength in our organization. Now we need to enlarge our active membership. We need to enlist the help of any who will provide assistance. We must if we are to achieve our objectives.

We have many attractive projects. We must prioritize them, recruit project leaders and provide them with the funds to complete the tasks. We must have funds to complete projects. Donors are much more likely to donate money to complete specific projects.

We have started discussing what needs to be done to achieve our new objectives. Gene Weisskopf will discuss plans for making our board meetings more effective in this new role and plans for making general membership meetings more attractive to the general public. Pam Novak is raring to raise funds—as soon as we have clear goals to promote and fund.

The officers on the recently elected BRMA executive board (see the list below) have all stepped forward to help move the BRMA ahead during the coming year. They look forward to your support, your guidance, and your own efforts and assistance. Let’s make as much progress in 1998 as we did in 1997.

Elections of 1998 Officers

The BRMA election for this year’s slate of officers was held at the December meeting. Lyle Wilhelmi will take over the job of president. Here is the current slate of officers and chairpersons:

President: Lyle Wilhelmi
Vice President: Jim Stoffels
Secretary: Pam Novak
Treasurer: Roger Carpenter

Committee Chairs:

Fund Raising: Pam Novak
Health, Safety, & Engineering: Del Ballard
History, Artifacts, & Exhibits: Madeleine Brown
Membership: Joe Hedges
Public Relations: Jim Thornton
Editor: Gene Weisskopf

Pop the Champagne for Our Esteemed Past President

The cries of “We need a new president!” and “It’s time for new blood!” could be heard echoing up and down the halls of the Richland library at the December BRMA meeting.

In spite of Jerry’s shouts, screams, and wailing, the membership decided that he had, indeed, served them long and well, and acknowledged this by electing a president who wasn’t named Jerry Woodcock.

Jerry’s “fall from power” was greeted with a loud round of applause from an appreciative crowd. Before he shuffled off to wherever it is that ex-presidents go, Jerry graced the audience with a look back at his reign as head of the BRMA:

  • The future prospects for the conversion of the B Reactor to a museum are no longer in doubt. By all indications, the BRMA has succeeded in helping to ensure that there will be a B Reactor Museum some day. The question is no longer “if,” but “when.”
  • Evidence of this can literally be seen in the DOE budget, in which there is a line item for B Reactor preservation.
  • There is also a milestone for B Reactor in the Tri-Party Agreement.
  • We were given office space at Bechtel.
  • We have proposed a train/boat tour to B Reactor that would tie together our diverse historical and geographical elements.
  • We’ve provided more comments to DOE concerning the history and future of B Reactor than perhaps any other group.
  • Our Vision Statement has matured into a well-regarded document that reveals the essence of the BRMA.
  • We’re on the distribution list for historical reviews at Hanford.
  • We are invited to meetings relating to Hanford history and preservation.
  • We supported the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science, and Technology (CREHST) by donating $1000 for a paving brick in its sidewalk.
  • We expanded our personal contacts.
    We provided tour guides for the DOE when they conducted tours of B Reactor for industry and
  • government officials.

Jerry noted that these are the items on the “plus” side of the equation, but that there are still several topics that need to be addressed:

  • More areas in B Reactor need to be made accessible to the public.
  • Several structures were lost (demolished) at B Reactor before we had a chance to evaluate their historical importance. On the other hand, our phone calls and letters have ensured that we will be consulted in the future before other similar actions.
  • The granite monuments, which we hope will one day stand in front of a B Reactor Museum, are still lying uncarved, waiting for the artist’s hand. We need to move ahead with the design phase, which will allow us to gather cost estimates and a schedule.
  • We need to further define and formalize our relationship with the DOE.
  • This is the Year of the River in the Tri-Cities, and BRMA should play a part in it.
  • We need to expand and diversify our membership, which would help us take on our wide-ranging projects.
  • Once we have defined and prioritized those projects, we can perform the necessary fund-raising.

Jerry went on to say that he was truly impressed with the accomplishments of the BRMA during his terms in office. He thanked the other officers, volunteers, and the supportive membership for all their work. We once again thank Jerry for his extraordinary efforts as President of BRMA, and hope to see him at our meetings when his hectic schedule allows it.

Sell It, Preserve It, or Bury It?

Gene Weisskopf

The Department of Energy (DOE) held a Hanford preservation public meeting on December 2, at the East Benton County Historical Museum in Kennewick, where Vicki Bergum graciously hosted the event.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the need to preserve the historical and cultural resources at Hanford before the site is sold, buried, demolished, or hauled off.

There have been a series of similar meetings and there will be more in the future, as the DOE attempts to define the resources at the Hanford site.

If you have assumed that there is already a clear plan for the final outcome of all aspects of Hanford, you’d better think again. Dee Lloyd of the DOE pointed out that it is an ongoing process, and meetings such as this one are intended to guide the future outcome of the site’s buildings and grounds.

The process of surveying the Hanford site, cataloging its countless features, and then determing their fate is a huge task. We and future generations will all have to live with the ramifications.

Even determining the importance of any one part of Hanford is no simple task. For example, the BRMA’s goal of preserving the B Reactor as a museum is a lofty one, but it’s just one small piece of the puzzle.

There are many other individuals and groups with interests in other historical aspects of Hanford, as well as its archaeological, cultural, geographical, and environmental aspects. Don’t forget the birds, bees, and other wildlife that inhabit the site, and how are people supposed to access all these riches?

There are also plenty of interested parties outside of our region, such as those from other Manhattan Project sites, DOE sites, uranium mines, universities, museums, and so on. Some organizations could find uses for existing structures on the site, and will have their names “in the hat” when the time comes.

As the data are collected, collated, shuffled, reviewed, and reshuffled, the DOE will continue to seek public involvement. One way you can keep in touch with the process is by visiting the Hanford Cultural and Historic Resources Program on the Internet at Then click the Cultural Resources link.

You’ll find a variety of material here, including their mission statement, their newsletter, a schedule of upcoming meetings, and several documents-under-construction for your review and comments.

Or, you can contact Dee Lloyd at the DOE in Richland at 509-372-2299.

Have you been missing the fun?!!

If you didn’t go to our meetings in July and October, maybe you aren’t aware that members of the BRMA, their families, and friends, sometimes get together for a special meeting at the Atomic Ale Brewpub & Eatery, for a fun-filled and food-filled afternoon.

The pub is normally closed on Sundays, but Aaron and Devin Burks, owners of Atomic Ale, welcome us back for another of our Atomic meetings on

Sunday, February 8, 1998 at 4:30pm
1015 Lee Blvd, Richland, just west of Jadwin

Bring your appetite for the renowned hand-crafted pizza, salads, sandwiches, desserts (oh those B Reactor Brownies!), and of course, beers and ales that are brewed at the pub.

So come and enjoy the company. As always, there will be a touch of entertainment and B Reactor information in the usual BRMA style. Remember that the Burks are interested in displaying any mementos you might have of the early days at Hanford, so bring along any you would like to share.

To make the day perfect, bring along a friend who wants to join BRMA. You’ll find an application form on the back of this page, and there will be plenty more at the meeting.

Hope to see you there!

Dupus Boomer

dupusYou don’t see many coal trucks driving through Richland neighborhoods anymore, but they were a common site in the days when Richland was “GI.”

Living conditions in Richland were a constant source of inspiration for cartoonist and Hanford worker Dick Donnell. His cartoons appeared in the Richland Villager in the latter half of the 1940s.

A Hot One

hotoneIf you shovel coal, monkey with a thermostat, clean your basement, haul ashes, bank fires and chop kindling, then you don’t live in a prefab. Prefabbers merely flip a switch for heat–but of course they have to pay less rent.