Saturday ceremony in Richland to honor 'man who built Hanford'

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldAugust 20, 2013 

Matthias Statue Install

Jerimy Brewer, left, and Kelly Wrenchey, both of Cascade Sign and Apparel, work last Friday installing a bronze statue of Col. Franklin T. Matthias at the Richland Public Library. The work is being sponsored by the Historic Street Project and The City the Stars Fell On. The dedication ceremony for the monument is planned 11 a.m. on Saturday.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Col. Franklin T. Matthias, known as the man who built Hanford, will be honored Saturday during a ceremony in the city he helped shape.

A bronze bust of the late Army Corps of Engineers officer recently was installed at the Richland Public Library. The dedication starts at 11 a.m.

It's a long overdue public recognition for the man who managed the largest construction project of World War II, said Karen Miles of Richland.

She spearheaded the commemoration project.

"Richland is a very unique city. We have a history, and we should remember and honor our history," she said.

Matthias died in 1993. But his son, Michael, and several other relatives are scheduled to attend Saturday's ceremony.

Gary Petersen, vice president of Hanford projects for the Tri-City Development Council, will be the master of ceremonies, and U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Col. Andrew Kelly and Richland Mayor John Fox are among those scheduled to participate.

Music from Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, Justin Raffa and the Richland High marching band is planned.

Matthias was charged with scouting locations for a plutonium production site and then was tapped to find someone to manage construction.

He ended up with the job himself, and moved to the area a few weeks shy of his 35th birthday.

Mid-Columbia artists Michael B. Salazar and Ron Gerton collaborated on the bust, with Salazar creating a terra-cotta version that Gerton used to make the bronze bust that now sits in front of the library.

Tim Montgomery provided landscape design and Roger Gibson provided lighting for the sculpture.

A second bust also will be placed at Hanford's historic B Reactor.

Maynard Plahuta, president of the B Reactor Museum Association, said he's glad to see Matthias honored. "The colonel has never been recognized for all he did out here. He did a tremendous job as a relatively young man," Plahuta said.

The sculpture project was covered by in-kind and cash donations, with the price tag topping $13,000. The library is at 955 Northgate Drive.

w Sara Schilling: 582-1529;; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service