Reach center CEO Lisa Toomey to manage CREHST

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldMay 20, 2013 

The CEO of the Hanford Reach Intepretive Center is adding management of a Richland museum to her duties.

Lisa Toomey will act as interim executive director of the CREHST museum for the next year or so as it closes.

The Richland Public Facilities District Board, which is developing the Reach center, on Monday approved an agreement with the group that operates CREHST.

"The important thing is to preserve the legacy that CREHST created with their facility and with their stories, to make sure that the facility runs in a positive way over the course of the next several months and that we do our part to effectively integrate and provide continuity," Toomey said. "I think continuity is a huge part of this."

Fred Raab, president of the Richland PFD board, described the arrangement as "a unique opportunity" that makes good sense.

The Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology -- better known as CREHST -- was created in 1996. A main focus is telling the story of the Hanford nuclear reservation.

The museum is operated by the Environmental Science Technology Foundation, which some time ago agreed to start integrating CREHST into the Reach center once construction started, according to information from the Reach.

For a while, though, it seemed like the Reach facility might never happen, as the project was beset by delays. However, it's now on track, with a scaled-back version starting to take shape at the west end of Columbia Park. The first building on the campus -- totaling 24,000 square feet, including a 10,000-square-foot basement -- is scheduled to open in June 2014.

Site and infrastructure work started in March.

CREHST's former director, Ellen Low, stepped down earlier this month.

Toomey joined the Reach project in January 2012.

Under the new management consulting services agreement, Toomey will spend at least 10 percent of her average work week on CREHST business. The foundation will pay the public facilities district $1,500 a month for Toomey's work, the pact says.

Shirley Long, president of the foundation board, said she and her board colleagues felt tapping Toomey was the "best (option) to help solidify and expedite the consolidation between the CREHST museum and the Reach."

She said Toomey and her staff will be able to "come in and help us go through all of the artifacts" and also get the chance to see CREHST workers in action. "We see this as a really positive thing," Long told the Herald.

Toomey has said CREHST staff will be invited to apply for jobs at the Reach and that she would welcome the museum's docents.

A transition team, which includes officials from CREHST and the Reach, has started meeting. The group hasn't decided exactly when the CREHST museum will close, Long said, noting there is a lot of work that still has to be done.

The CREHST museum, at 95 Lee Blvd., Richland, for now remains open with normal hours.

-- Online: www.crehst.org.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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