There was a commentary last week discussing the most recent Rocky Flats Museum Newsletter and how that newsletter rekindled my interest in the museum. I sent some emails and was invited to a lunch meeting with “Murph” Widdowfield, President of the museum. He bought my lunch at Nancy’s on 7120 Federal Blvd. He brought me a packet of information that I intend to very briefly summarize. The first thing that was obvious was the list of the Board of Directors has a heavy influence by Rocky Flats alums and is missing the people who once served on the board to make certain the anti-Rocky Flats perspective had a heavy influence on anything the museum did. I had ended my volunteering at the museum because I became tired of getting openly frustrated that I believed the desire was to present a negative desription of the plant. One article in the packet describes how “Rocky Flats spawned many rumors and misconceptions over the years. These misconceptions have grown in some people’s minds into reality.” I believed the anti-Rocky Flats group working on the museum was working to encourage those kinds of misconceptions, and I ended my participation when I failed to convince them they would kill the museum with that approach. Listening to Murph and his interesting presentation about what is happening now makes me want to get back involved.
The packet of information included a history of the finances of the museum and how the rental fees and other operating costs effectively ate up the initial “seed” money from a Kaiser-Hill LLC grant and congressional appropriation arranged with the help of then Senator Wayne Allard. A problem surfaced when DOE directed that none of that appropriation could be used for fund raising, which resulted in the money being drawn down without mechanisms being developed to replace it. To get to the point, funding of a permanent museum is the overreaching problem. There are large amounts of artifacts that could be used to build something that would be worthy of the value the plant had in helping defend the nation during the Cold War while also helping to build the communities in the Front Range that would not be as vibrant if there had never been a plant.
Murph gave a passionate description of the governmental agencies and people he has contacted to help with development of a viable museum. He convinced me I should participate in some form. My initial reaction is to offer research support that will be useful to understanding why the country decided the Rocky Flats Plant was needed to develop a nuclear deterrence to the risk of Soviet aggression. I intend to offer to provide segments of the book I’m drafting about the history of nuclear weapons and why the country decided Rocky Flats was needed for the monthly newsletters. I’ll be interested in what happens next.