On May 9, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) St. Louis District celebrated the beginning of construction on a new interpretive center and administrative office space at the Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles County, Missouri.
Approximately 80 people gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony in an outdoor area located near the existing Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center, which opened to the public in 2002.
Speakers included LM Program Office Director Carmelo Melendez, St. Louis District Commander of USACE Colonel Bryan K. Sizemore, LM Site Manager Ken Starr, and other members from the community involved with the site and its programs.
“The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center signifies LM’s long-term commitment to the community through preservation of history and STEM education for students,” said Melendez.
Melendez gave a brief overview of LM’s history and current mission. He also recognized the staff at the Weldon Spring Interpretive Center, remarking upon the way they have grown the facility from a humble site access point to the valuable community asset it is today.
He also offered his heartfelt appreciation to guest speakers that took time from their busy schedules to assist in the groundbreaking ceremony.
“There is no such thing as a bystander,” Melendez said. “Stewardship is more than just responsible management conducted by one organization. We all play a role in protecting human health and environment and creating beneficial reuse at sites like Weldon Spring.”
Technical assistance with the design and construction of the new $7.4 million facility was provided via a support agreement between LM and USACE. Melendez said this collaborative project demonstrates the federal agencies’ commitment to projects that provide beneficial reuse for the public.
Colonel Sizemore called the agencies’ collaboration “the right thing to do.” He said Manhattan Project leaders such as J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves would agree. “We’re doing the right thing across the country. We all must be stewards to take care of what we’ve been given,” he said.
Community speakers included Alice Wolf, coordinator of events for TNT Families, Angel Stahr, a volunteer naturalist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, and second-grade teacher Melissa Young.
Approximately 60 second-grade students from McKelvey Elementary School, who were on a field trip to the site, joined the group to assist in the groundbreaking shovel commemoration.
When open to the public, the new facility will have updated exhibits, an auditorium, four student classrooms for STEM education, and office space.