I don’t think I can fully express my gratitude for the reception thrown in my honor this evening by the Oak Ridge Partnership. Thank you for all the kind and generous words and the chance to see old colleagues and friends. New ones, too. I am stunned by the outpouring of praise for my work since I announced my retirement several weeks ago. Wow. I don’t know if I’m deserving, but it feels really good to have your career validated on multiple fronts.
Here I am getting prepped with protective gear before going inside the K-25 plant, which was being readied for demolition. Before the May 1, 2004 tour, there was a bit of a confrontation. Not only were we not allowed to bring any electronics into the classified facility, but at the last minute a classification officer also wanted to review my handwritten notes following the tour. I refused and was ready to walk away. Ultimately, the contractor relented. But, to be honest, while wearing gear and breathing protection, it was kind of hard to take notes anyway. (Department of Energy photo/Lynn Freeny)
In a newly published post, Recalling the Joys of Reporting, I make reference to a column I wrote in December 1996 about being trapped in ORNL’s Wigner Auditorium (formerly known as the Central Auditorium). It was kind of fun to look back.
If there was one place, just one, to sit and reflect on the past 35 years, I guess I’d have to choose a seat in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Central Auditorium. Somewhere on the right side, maybe about the fifth row. That was generally close enough to get a look at the stage, but far enough back to be enveloped by the crowd and feel the excitement as the room began to fill. It was positioned so I could dash to the stage for an interview afterward or make a quick exit to the hallway if time was short and a deadline was near.
ORNL’s old-style auditorium, kind of musty and sloped from front to back, was where I first embraced the joy of my job. Continue reading →
“The Beginning or the End,” a docudrama about the development of the first atomic bombs, was a big attraction at the Grove Theater in Oak Ridge in March 1947. (Department of Energy archives/Ed Westcott photo)
Tim Gawne of Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been a wonderful help to me over the years, providing historical documents and photos and insights that helped tell the Oak Ridge story. In honor of my upcoming retirement at the end of the month, he dug into the lab’s archives once again and provided a couple of pics that show reporters at work in the early days. The one here shows journalists covering the first delivery of radioisotopes for research. The date was Aug. 2, 1946.
As I finished up a recent Chinese dinner of chicken with black bean sauce, I cracked open my fortune cookie and glanced at the message inside.
“All things have an end,” it said, fittingly enough as I get ready for retirement at the end of the month.
For the past 35 years, maybe a little more, I’ve covered the Department of Energy and its Oak Ridge operations. It’s a news beat I created at the News Sentinel after serving as state editor and realizing the wealth of news potential at the government facilities.
It’s been a pleasantly bumpy ride these many years, with a lot of highlights and some unusual happenings. I’m kind of proud of some of the things accomplished. Continue reading →
News Sentinel reporter Bob Fowler has the story today on Knoxnews.com about the Department of Energy’s next step in divesting itself of the American Museum of Science & Energy. DOE has been trying to get rid of it for many years without great success.
Aerial photograph of Graphite Reactor during the World War II Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, March 10, 1944.The world’s first continuously operated nuclear reactor served as a prototype facility for the production of plutonium and later became a source of radioisotopes for medicine and research. (Department of Energy archives/Ed Westcott photo)
This is one of Ed Westcott’s iconic Oak Ridge photos, and a favorite of mine. A Girl Scout troop walks past the Graphite Reactor on a June 9, 1951 field trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It has an eerie feel to it, with the innocence of the Girl Scouts contrasting against the industrial, forboding backdrop of the Graphite Reactor in the early years at the Oak Ridge lab. Click on pic to enlarge. (DOE archives/Ed Westcott photo)
An exhibit featuring the photographs of Ed Westcott, the government’s Oak Ridge photographer for the World War II Manhattan Project and the years that followed, will open Friday at the UT Downtown Gallery, 106 S. Gay St., Knoxville.
The exhibit includes more than 50 of Westcott’s photos that were previously shown in 2005, with additional works to be included in the 2016 exhibit — which will run through Aug. 6.
Westcott is scheduled to be at Friday’s opening, from 6:30 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. The reception begins at 5 p.m. Continue reading →