Category Archives: History

Oh, my

muddybootI 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.

Thank you and thank you again.

And, yes, I am now the proud holder of The Muddy Boot Award. That’s something I didn’t see coming.

Before they tore old K-25 down

27225999143_f853665d3d_kHere 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)

Recalling the joys of reporting

munger1984If 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

Reporters at work (1946)

84120Tim Gawne of Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been a wonderful help to me over the years, providing historical documents and photos and insights that helped tell the Oak Ridge story.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.

Saddleworn reporter heading out of Dodge

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.munger1

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

Ed Westcott exhibit opens Friday

girlscouts.jpgThis 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.FullSizeRender

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