Expanding history's reach
To the Department of Energy for lowering the age limit for visitors to Hanford's historic B Reactor from 18 to 12.
About 20 school tours are expected this year. Curriculum has been developed for teachers to use, and the tours can be tailored to focus on science or history.
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Politicians from U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings to Gov. Chris Gregoire lauded the announcement.
Sen. Patty Murray may have put it best: "Families now will have the opportunity to come out together to learn about and reflect on the contribution made by Hanford and the Tri-Cities during World War II and the Cold War."
B Reactor was the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor, built as part of the Manhattan Project. It produced the plutonium used in the first atomic explosion and the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, helping end World War II.
More than 25,000 adults from all 50 states and 39 countries have already toured the reactor. Adding children to the list of visitors will broaden the influence of this singular artifact of the atomic era.
To Andrey Sushko, the Hanford High School senior who won second place in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search science competition.
He beat all but one of the 1,800 top science students nationwide to earn the $75,000 prize.
Sushko developed a tiny motor that could one day have practical applications in powering micro-scale robots.
The 17-year-old immigrant from Russia combined bits of wax and metal scraps with a huge imagination to build a working prototype less than a quarter inch in diameter.
His ambition is to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the California Institute of Technology to study physics.
We just hope that whatever invention Sushko first brings to market, he'll locate the manufacturing facility in the Tri-Cities.
To Franklin County commissioners for failing to support the Pasco School District's request for school impact fees on new home construction.
The need is clear. Schools in the district already are over capacity by 800 students, the overcrowding will only get worse. Enrollment is expected to grow 34 percent, or more than 5,000 students, in the next six years.
Commissioner Brad Peck complains the district's construction costs are above the national average for schools, an impact fee would be an unfairly levied tax, and that district officials have not fully considered multi-track operation of schools year-round.
We're not surprised that construction costs in one of the nation's fastest growing markets exceed an average that primarily based on regions floundering in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.
The district has explored year-round operations as an alternative to new construction. The idea has merit, but most residents in the district are opposed.
And the impact fee is inherently fair because it shifts a small portion of the costs to the people -- new residents -- who are driving the need.
The $4,700 fee approved by the Pasco City Council will provide about $3.6 million to the district. The rest of the $80.8 million required to meet the district's needs will come from voter-approved bonds and state matching funds.
Franklin County ought to be willing to do as much.
To U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee for the timing of his decision to resign from Congress.
We've no qualms about his desire to step down and focus full time on his gubernatorial race. We doubt he'd be a very effective representative while running what's certain to be a tough statewide campaign.
But he flubbed his resignation, leaving state election officials in a quandary about what to do in November and leaving his constituents in the state's 1st Congressional District without representation in the House at least until then and perhaps until next year.
Because the district boundaries change in January, two elections might be required in November -- one to select a candidate to represent the old district during December and a second to select the person who will hold the seat for the next two years.
Inslee announced his resignation March 10. If he'd done so just a few days earlier, before March 6, Gov. Chris Gregoire would have had to call a special election this summer to fill his seat for the remainder of the term.
The potential confusion of two congressional elections on the November ballot would have been avoided and 1st District voters would have representation for most of the year.