Speakers assailed contaminants at the former nuclear weapons parts plant and the fear of toxins at the new plant, and they welcomed plans to address the racial divide in KC as well as looming threats to our earth, air, and water.
Annual Meeting blends harsh reality, hope
Harsh reality met bold hope at the PeaceWorks Annual Meeting March 10 in KC MO. “We are concerned about the fate of our planet,” Henry Stoever, the chair of the PW Board, told the 43 attendees at the Simpson House gathering. Concerning his recent drive through Bannister Federal Complex, home to KC’s former nuclear weapons parts plant, Stoever said, “We don’t see containment of these waste products” as BFC is supposedly cleaned up. Stoever added, “We say, ‘Not in my name!’ as nuclear weapons are used to threaten other countries.”
Reviewing PW finances, Treasurer Dave Pack said, “We are in a sound financial position and have been, going back a number of years.” After attendees marked their ballots, PW Board Vice Chair Mary Hladky announced that all the candidates had been elected, including four new members.
Lucky Garcia, a PW member, invited attendees to the forum “Race Issues ARE Peace Issues” April 27. She said Kansas City, Mo., has had many killings by the police since 2005, but not one indictment.
Joseph Wun of the PW Board observed, “A lot of people in Kansas City care for creation, but many don’t know there’s a plant here making nuclear weapon parts.” He said the four targets of the revived Poor People’s Campaign—racism, militarism, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation—“intersect in nuclear weapons.”
Presenting the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award, Mark Semet of the PW Board said, “The Learning Club started with one site and now has six. Its tutors help students develop their potential.” Receiving the award for the Learning Club, founder Brad Grabs noted, “Many kids live with a lot of struggle, a lot of difficulties.” Grabs said that a Schlagle High School senior (an undocumented young woman trained to mentor a Learning Club youngster whom Grabs called Billy) told someone at the Learning Club, “I need Billy, and he needs me.”
Lu Mountenay, a PW Board member, received the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award. She was shocked. All she could say in reply was, “Thank you!” Jim Hannah, a PW Board member, wrote a tribute to Mountenay read by Ann Suellentrop, also a PW Board member. “This year’s recipient is a peace activist almost by birth,” wrote Hannah. Her mother established the preschool program “Play Group” that paved the way for Head Start in Seattle, he explained. Mountenay has been arrested four times for crossing the property line at KC’s new nuclear weapons plant, Hannah wrote, quoting her statement from Memorial Day 2018: “I won’t be around in the next 50 years to protect my grandchildren when the poison leaks from the land at the new plant and contaminates the earth, water, and air as it has at Bannister. But hopefully my grandchildren will know that I stood on one side of the line and then crossed over for justice.” Maurice Copeland, winner of the 2018 Bebb Award, gave Mountenay the plaque.
—Jane Stoever wrote this story. Mark Semet, along with his assistant, Jenny Semet, of the PeaceWorks Board contributed the videography and photography.