Kamiakin High School student Trenda Fawver's senior project has saved something precious.
She captured a piece of Franklin County's past by working as an interviewer for the Franklin County Historical Society's oral history program.
The 18-year-old recorded an interview with former Franklin County Prosecutor Jim Rabideau.
And it will be added to nine others done by volunteers in the historical society's reborn oral history program.
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The program started in the 1970s and was led by Walter Oberst, who started the historical society. After a period of inactivity, it was reborn in January 2009 when Franklin County gave the society $5,000 which, along with Susan Faulkner's donated time, made restarting the oral history program possible.
Another $10,000 from Franklin County in June has helped keep the program going.
Sherel Webb, the society's administrator, said the list of possible interviewees is endless.
The heartbreaking part is that the historical society seems to be fighting what Faulkner calls a losing battle. "They die faster than we can get to them," she said.
But Webb said preserving any local history is better than nothing.
Webb and Faulkner are hoping to train more volunteer interviewers. Since July, they've trained nine people how to interview to capture oral histories.
Trenda said interest in history caused her to jump at the idea after a teacher told her about the program. Her goal is to get a bachelor's degree in public history and work as an archivist. Ultimately, she said she would like to become a research librarian.
Through the oral history program, she said she realized that the most interesting form of history is in the words of those who have lived it.
Although Trenda was born in New Jersey, she grew up in Kennewick and Pasco, where her grandmother lives. But she said she had no real idea about the area's history until she got into the oral history program.
She decided to interview Rabideau partially because of her love of crime television shows like CSI.
She said she also became intrigued after reading the emails Rabideau has sent the historical society over the years and the newspaper clippings from his time as prosecutor that fill a file folder. She came across a story Rabideau had recorded about how some Pasco boys got into trouble after taking a piano from a home and rolling it down the street.
And although questions about Rabideau's time as the county coroner were on Trenda's list, she said that actually ended up being the smallest part of the history Rabideau shared.
He became the county coroner only because, with the county's size at the time, the coroner's job came with being county prosecutor.
Rabideau told her that one of his more unusual cases involved some boys who were prosecuted for mooning residents of Connell on a Sunday after church. Rabideau said the boys weren't sober, and jurors had a hard time keeping a straight face during the trial.
And he talked about the tough cases, such as the 1974 murder of Superior Court Judge James Lawless, who was killed by a pipe bomb when he opened a package at the Franklin County Courthouse. Rabideau was the prosecuting attorney for the trial in which Ricky Anthony Young of Prosser was convicted of murdering Lawless.
Rabideau said he refused to file the case against Young for several months until he felt he had gathered enough evidence despite pressure from federal investigators.
Trenda said she was scared about interviewing Rabideau at first, since her only previous interviewing experience was when she was interviewed for a job she didn't get. But she said they got along well.
Rabideau said Trenda did well, and they only stopped talking because they hit the end of the recording.
Trenda already has signed up to conduct another oral history interview for the historical society.
"I was able to preserve something that other people will be able to look at," she said.
To help with the historical society's oral history program, call the society at 547-3714.
Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org