For 22 years, the High Plains Food Bank has asked the community to help in the fight to alleviate hunger during the holidays by hosting their Together We Can food drive, and Consolidated Nuclear Security’s Pantex Plant was happy to help.
Pantexans braved the cold weather to man the food drive collecting donations – food and cash – from donors and sorting donations into appropriate bins.
“We at Pantex are so blessed with what we have and knowing that the food bank is going to help feed people in our community made me feel good to volunteer,” said Ester Sosa, with Pantex Enterprise Planning and Controls.
Pantex, along with other corporate sponsors and community members, helped the High Plains Food Bank bring in 730,477 meals through a combination of funds and non-perishable food items.
“We simply could not execute a successful holiday food and fund drive without our Sponsors of the Day, including our long-time partner, Pantex,” shared Emily Bell, communications and marketing manager for the High Plains Food Bank.
The High Plains Food Bank distributes about 625,000 meals – more than 700,000 pounds of food – each month to more than 170 feeding partner agencies who in turn serve between 8,000 and 9,000 families each month. Recently, that service number has risen to over 9,500 families throughout the Texas Panhandle.
The Pantex Christmas Project started in the late 1950s, and although it has gone by a few different names and has assisted needy families in various ways, one thing has remained the same: Pantexans’ desire to help others.
The project started when employees at Pantex thought they could pool the money they would normally use for buying each other gifts and instead buy toys, food, and clothing for families who would otherwise go without. Unlike other angel tree programs, Pantexans have the opportunity to adopt elderly as well as children.
“This year we worked with Family Support Services to help bring Christmas to those who might not otherwise get anything,” said Lennet Hernandez of Pantex Safeguards and Security. “Often the children have been uprooted from violent homes and usually do not get to bring anything with them. They are frightened, traumatized, and sometimes have been abused. We want to provide a great Christmas for them; for many it’s the first peaceful holiday they have ever experienced.”
The giving tradition continues; this year all 221 angels were adopted in less than 36 hours. Once an angel is selected, the fun begins. Take for example General Stores in Building 16‑19; they found a way to raise money for the gifts and have some fun at the same time.
“We had a pumpkin carving contest, a hot sauce taste off, breakfast casserole cook off, and an ugly sweater contest,” said Trey Gillman, a Pantex operations manager. “While these events are always full of cheerfulness and the spirit of giving, they can get very competitive as well.”
The idea of having fun events to raise money came last year, and it was so successful that this year they were able to raise $700 and adopt six angels.
“Whether it be an elderly person in a nursing home with no family to spend the holiday with, or a child whose parents are unable to provide gifts, we are fortunate enough to work at Pantex and be in a position to help these people out,” Gillman said.
Whether Pantexans bought a gift for a child or a nursing home resident, one thing is certain: Those gifts will bring a smile to many faces this holiday season.
Article by Jim Ray, Pantex Wildlife Biologist/Scientist
I look back over my 17 years at Pantex and am most appreciative of the “output” that we have accomplished through collaborative partnerships. In today’s economic climate and tightening budgets, it is easy for most people to understand the role that “resource sharing” can have in getting and keeping a project up and running. But, what I am referring to is more collaborative, ranging from partitioning of activities to various levels of shared oversight of research projects as co-principal investigator and then production of output to get information to where it can be used.
Since 1999, collaborative research studies at Pantex have included six projects with West Texas A&M University, three with Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech/U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; and one involving Canada’s University of Manitoba and York University. For Pantex, these collaborations have involved contracting on most projects and universities and Pantex staff serving as co-investigators, but also large contributions that included Pantex staff performing several key functions, such as:
- Trapping, radio-tracking, and down-loading and retrieving satellite collars from bobcats;
- Searching for, capturing, measuring, pit-tagging and radio-tracking Texas horned lizards;
- Searching for, capturing, and radio-tracking prairie rattlesnakes;
- Radio-tracking Swainson’s hawks;
- Capturing, measuring and deployment of G.P.S. (Global Positioning Systems) and geolocator data-loggers on the backs of adult Purple Martins.
These have worked well, with professors, students and myself dividing the service as lead presenter on presentations and lead-author on publications among the appropriate co-authors. As an example, we see the possibility of five publications coming from a recently-completed project. The “scribble” board behind me has the topics listed, with each including the initials of the investigator and their efforts to get the paper’s first draft started as senior-author among the student, professor and myself. This efficiency is proven, using the output of another project, which produced nine publications on behalf of our U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration customer: six led by students as senior author and three led by myself.
To date, the collaborations have contributed more than 12 scholarly and four popular-style articles, 42 presentations to major audiences, dozens of presentations to public and civic groups, and many interactions with the media. Collaboration facilitates the technical oversight and also real-time knowledge for Pantex in terms of meeting agency program objectives. The projects and contributions that deal with migratory birds have garnered the Pantex Plant as DOE/NNSA’s single-allotted nomination for the Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award in four of the six years of the award’s existence. In 2016, the Plant’s work earned the agency the distinction of ‘final three finalist’ for the award. From an “output” standpoint, the result is “win-win”, because not only do we get information out to where it needs to go for the customer, credibility is enhanced due to the truly collaborative make-up of the projects.
Texas Tech University doctoral student Katherine Watson, Pantex Wildlife Biologist Jim Ray (left), and Pantex Agronomist Monty Schoenhals (right), with two juvenile Swainson's hawks that are now wearing satellite transmitters for studying the species' interactions with wind turbines in North, Central and South America.
Pantex recently had a British invasion, and it wasn’t the Beatles or the Rolling Stones but the United Kingdom Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), participating in the High Explosives Workshop.
The United Kingdom Atomic Weapons Establishment and representatives from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory participated in the recent High Explosives Workshop hosted at Pantex.
This was the first UK/U.S. workshop hosted at Pantex. Although the two have interacted in the past, it was the first time the countries focused on high explosives. Representatives from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) also attended the workshop.
"We have had interactions with Joint Working Groups with the UK, but these only slightly touched on explosive manufacturing," said Barry Hill, senior manager, High Explosive and Materials Testing. "Some joint working groups focused on manufacturing practices, not so much on explosives."
Past interactions have been on Joint Working Groups, or JOWOGs, covering topics such as energetic science and manufacturing practices, and have been greatly beneficial.
"Besides [JOWOGs] being technically beneficial for both the U.S. and UK high explosives community, it’s highly valuable in maintaining and growing the collaborative relationship between new and experienced scientist and engineers on both sides of this long-standing alliance," said Monty Cates, senior director, Explosive Technology Operations.
With a recently expanded treaty, more information regarding explosive manufacturing can be shared between the two countries. Sharing the W76 program and commissioning similar facilities means both sites are facing many of the same challenges. The workshop allowed for discussions about pressing, machining, additive manufacturing, the growing pains that come along with new facilities, and lessons learned along the way.
"This workshop was a great opportunity to collaborate and share practices to improve in safety process and efficiency," said Eddie Yarker, an AWE principal manufacturing engineer. "It was also a great way to gain a wider knowledge and how it is processed here (in the United States)."
Not only was the workshop a great experience between the U.S. and the UK, it was also a valuable learning opportunity for employees at other sites. New employees at LLNL who were not familiar with high-explosives production and Pantex in general were able to learn about some of the processes.
"We have a lot of new staff who aren’t familiar with Pantex or the other sites; we were able to bring some here and let them get an orientation of Pantex as well as the other sites," said Micha Gresshoff, a LANL engineer.
Gresshoff also said that being able to learn the broader mission and learn how production is performed at Pantex are valuable to their staff and their program.
The fruits of the workshop have been plentiful for the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment, according to Mick Parry, the AWE acting principal production manager of explosives, and the momentum gathered from the workshop has carried over to their site. "We have returned with lots of ideas for future improvements and collaborations between our two sites," Parry said.
Turner Construction, the construction arm of the Administrative Support Complex (ASC) development team, began site mobilization and early construction activities at the 50-acre ASC site. Turner Construction took advantage of the fall weather to mobilize work crews focused on clearing vegetation, installing perimeter fencing, erecting temporary trailers, and surveying for the building foundation and underground utilities. Construction crews are now focused on drilling for foundation piers and fabricating pier rebar cages and concrete pier placements.
Construction crews have begun surveying the land and preparing for construction of Pantex’s Administrative Support Complex.
“It’s been amazing to see the site change every day,” said Chris Howard, CNS’s project manager for the ASC.
“Our Pantex management team is engaged with Lawler-Wood, the ASC development team lead, on a daily basis to ensure the facility will meet our tenant needs for a safe and secure environment to meet the NNSA mission,” said David Will, CNS’s program manager for the ASC.
To address the complexities and importance of the Pantex ASC, a management team is centering resources to ensure the project is successful. ASC construction activities will ramp up in the coming weeks to prepare site utilities while continuing concrete piers, footings, and grade beams to support the building’s large foundation.