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Roy Ballard (63) was surprised to learn Wednesday that
maintenance workers removed a 10-foot, 3-inch dummy
bombshell he installed July 1 between Richland High
School's two gyms. The bombshell was a gift from a few
alumni to the school, but Richland school Superintendent
Rich Semler said Ballard never had proper permission to
install the replica.


This story was published 7/19/2001

By Terry Hudson
Herald staff writer

For 17 days, a 10-foot 3-inch green and yellow dummy
bombshell stood in the foyer between Richland High
School's two gyms.

On Tuesday, school maintenance workers got a little
practice in bomb removal.

Acetylene torches separated the behemoth shell from its
bolted-down support stand. Painted in Richland High
colors, it was a gift from a few alumni to the school to
further celebrate Hanford's role in national defense.

Roy Ballard installed the shell July 1, taking it into
the school and bolting it to the concrete floor.

But Richland school Superintendent Rich Semler said
Ballard never had proper permission and ordered the
bombshell removed Tuesday afternoon. He also sent Ballard
a letter of explanation.

"I'm not going to argue with people about whether or not
it should be there," Semler said. "It's just not
appropriate for people to come in and drill holes in the
floor and put in permanent structures.

"We have policies and procedures for gifts. It has to be
approved by the board. It's on the agenda for the next
board meeting."

Ballard said he checked with Richland High Principal
Steve Neill and the school's athletic director, Steve
Potter. Ballard said he used Potter's keys to get into
the school to install the shell.

"The one who actually asked for the keys was Steve Neill,
and he told (Potter) what I was going to do," Ballard
said. "Steve Potter said it would be great to have it in

But Semler said he talked with Neill and Potter, both of
whom recall conversations about the shell but never of
giving permission to install it. Ballard has volunteered
around the school for years and was a frequent visitor.
Neither Potter nor Neill could be reached for comment

In any case, the action could once again stir up a
controversy in Richland that has raged for years --
whether it's appropriate to have a mushroom cloud as a
logo and a nickname of Bombers for the school.

The school's symbol and nickname has been the Bombers
since 1945, switched from the Beavers a few weeks after
nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Japan, to end World War II. The plutonium in the Nagasaki
bomb was made at Hanford's B Reactor.

Ballard believes political issues are what led to the
removal of the shell.

"This politically correct garbage. You have to take it
with a grain of salt," Ballard said. "This country is to
the point where everything you do has to be OK with
everyone else. This is the best country in the world. We
do everything for everybody in the world, so I don't
agree with a lot of that stuff."

Semler said that's the school board's decision.

"Certainly the bomb has other significance, but that
doesn't mean we shouldn't follow appropriate procedures,"
Semler said. "It's not my job to dictate or make value
judgments, but whether or not we have a bomb in the foyer
needs to be presented to the board for discussion.

"I've been here four years, and I've never had a problem
with the logo. They've been the Bombers for as long as I
can remember."

Semler did say he has received a number of calls from
staff members with their perspectives.

Ballard also was irritated after seeing the shell after
the bolts were cut by torches.

"It will have to be repainted," he said. "They did a
lousy job of taking it out."

The board plans to discuss the issue at its next meeting,
set for Aug. 14.

"I'll be there," Ballard said. "I have questions as to
why the school has deviated from the vote in 1990 where
students and staff voted overwhelmingly to keep the
mushroom cloud and bomb."