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Jen's Journey

The well's run dry at Hanford

Some are acting as though it's a total surprise about the recent news that layoffs are soon to come at CH2M Hill and other Hanford companies.

Back in 2009, it was made abundantly clear stimulus funding awarded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to these companies would only provide temporary jobs to boost efforts in cleaning up Hanford.

Nearly 3,000 jobs were projected to be created at the time, but we all knew those jobs would not be long-term.

To create those jobs, Washington state was awarded nearly $2.2 billion in stimulus funds via the U.S. Department of Energy.

Nearly two years later, media sources are announcing layoffs are to be expected. The announcements are made to sound as if this is earth-shattering news and we should all be surprised.

I believe the influx of funds largely contributed to an economic boost in the Tri-Cities, but the old saying, "What goes up must come down," still applies.

As a result, I find it fascinating the news reports regarding the end of the boom sound so much as though everyone was caught with their pants down.

Maybe some were surprised, but I fail to understand why. Oh, there are reports some workers were counting on early retirement packages. They were counting on the taxpayers to dole out more money.

I feel as though the money they already earned at our expense was enough. It kept those workers employed an additional two years during which they could have been establishing a "rainy day fund," also known as savings.

I feel the businesses and industries that also benefitted from the surge in the economy should have also anticipated the end and budgeted wisely to sustain themselves when this day arrived.

Fear not, the employees finding themselves out of work later this year will still receive the benefits of our hard-earned dollars. They will qualify for displaced workers programs offered by the U.S. Department of Energy, paid for by the taxpayers. And don't forget, they also will qualify for unemployment benefits.

WorkSource has also vowed to "put together a rapid response team."

Don't get me wrong...I do feel it is a shame that more people will be unemployed as a result of the layoffs at Hanford. I am sorry for the families faced with the potential of having a smaller household income.

I just strongly believe proper planning for what was known as a temporary "band-aid" was in order.

I can only hope those who will be feeling the pain of the coming job losses will recover quickly and the "temporary" job losses won't be overextended.

- Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

JMcGhan@DailySunNews.com

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