In Focus: Our legacy continues, thanks to all

February 7, 2014 

As we enter the final phase leading to the grand opening of the Reach the first week in July, and after more than a dozen years in the making, I think it is fitting to express our gratitude to the individuals throughout the community who supported the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science & Technology (CREHST) Museum. For most of the past year, we have worked closely with the board and staff of CREHST and a special “transition committee” made up of board members from the Environmental Science & Technology Foundation and the Richland Public Facilities District to ensure that the “heart and soul” of CREHST was incorporated into the Reach. CREHST opened its doors more than 20 years ago, after the Hanford Science Center closed, and during the past two decades it has fulfilled an important role in historically and culturally enhancing our community. Through the dedication of CREHST staff, docents, volunteers, the board, all its members and loyal donors, CREHST has served thousands of residents and visitors and introduced them to many of the elements that make our community so unique. When people ask, “What are you taking to the Reach?” we talk about exhibits and artifacts focused on the Manhattan Project and the Cold War, but the intrinsic value of CREHST lies in its people, particularly the cadre of docents who not only started with CREHST as it opened its doors, but have chosen not only to finish with CREHST but also to share their incredible experience, expertise and wisdom as volunteer interpreters at the Reach. Anyone who has experienced a tour of CREHST will recognize what an immeasurable gift this is. The docents bring history alive for us all. Complementing that effort, history, science, technology and a host of other subjects were also brought to life for hundreds upon hundreds of children throughout Benton and Franklin counties by the education staff as they developed and delivered their highly successful Education on Wheels, Three Dead Guys, Night at the Museum and nine more programs. The lives of children in schools large and small, urban and rural were changed by the work of these dedicated educators. We also are grateful for the curation and collections staff who have worked diligently for months to ensure that the CREHST collection continues to serve the best interests of donors and the community. Their care and commitment has not gone unnoticed and resulted in artifacts being shared with the Reach, B Reactor Museum Association, city of Richland, Department of Energy and other local museums, where they are accessible if they are ever needed for exhibit at the Reach. When we reported that there weren’t funds for a Manhattan Project exhibit, the members of CREHST rallied and immediately donated more than $25,000, which led to the exhibit being underwritten by Allen Brecke in honor of his father Les Brecke, known as “Mr. Plutonium” among his Hanford colleagues and associates. And enough can’t be said about the commitment of administrative staff, who during a time of intense challenges and integration issues, rose above them all to ensure a smooth and professional transition of CREHST into the Reach. Last but not least, the work of the Environmental Science & Technology Foundation board, led by Shirley Long, worked diligently to ensure that the important work of CREHST would pass to the Reach — through the people, through the programs and through the collection of artifacts. As you walk toward the Reach, the pathway will contain bricks originally donated to CREHST. It is appropriate that they are placed to guide us all to the Reach, to symbolize the legacy that will live on for future generations and to help us understand where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going. On behalf of the board and staff of the Reach, as well as residents of the Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin, we thank you for enriching all our lives. Lisa Toomey is interim director of CREHST and CEO of the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.

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