Our Voice: Thumbs up to Hastings for land transfer, national park amendments

June 24, 2013 

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings introduced an amendment to establish a Manhattan Project National Historic Park that includes Hanford's B Reactor, as well as sites in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed the House by a 315-108 vote, with all Washington representatives voting in favor.

The amendment calls for the Department of Energy -- within a year of the bill's passage -- to enter an agreement with the Department of the Interior to establish the park, with an eye toward enhancing public access, management, interpretation and historic preservation.

Another amendment would transfer 1,641 acres of Hanford land DOE no longer needs to the Tri-City Development Council. The land is designated for industrial use.

The defense bill still needs to be approved by the Senate. But even if the Senate version doesn't include the Hanford amendments, the measures would become part of the negotiations between the two bodies.

The land transfer and B Reactor preservation are critical to the Mid-Columbia's future. Including them in the defense bill gives both more than a fighting chance.

Off-off-off-off Broadway

Thumbs up to Mid-Columbia high school thespians for bringing outstanding performances to their communities.

Hanford High drama students' production of The Drowsy Chaperone won best overall musical at the 5th Avenue Theatre's High School Music Awards this month in Seattle, but schools all over Eastern Washington earned recognition.

Hanford, Richland, Pasco, Zillah, Sunnyside, Yakima and Spokane all were represented in the competition.

Pasco High's Franklin Castellanos tied for best actor in a lead role for his performance In the Heights and Daniel Haug won best supporting actor for his role in the same production.

Gavin O'Leary of Sunnyside High School won best actor in a featured ensemble role for Just So. Taylor Colson of Grandview High, Tyler Grandgeorge of Hanford High and Jonathan Tavira-Alcaraz of Sunnyside High all received student achievement awards.

Congratulations to all.

Lethargic lawmakers

Thumbs down to the state's congressional delegation for failing to work toward reconciling federal marijuana laws with emerging state law.

Inaction by Washington's delegation has left efforts to amend federal restrictions on marijuana to lawmakers from Colorado, Oregon, California and elsewhere.

Democratic Reps. Adam Smith of Bellevue and Jim McDermott of Seattle are co-sponsors of two of the seven pot-related bills in the House, but everyone else is MIA, the Seattle Times reported. No companion bills are pending in the Senate.

Certainly, the nation faces bigger issues, but our state is in limbo because of the discrepancies between Washington's new law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and federal law that treats pot the same as heroin.

It's a problem that requires a congressional fix, and our delegation ought to lead the way.

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