Telling Libby’s Story

first_imgTwo decades after the W. R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine closed its doors, a group of Libby citizens have decided it is time to tell their town’s story – the whole story. This fall, a nine-part lecture series dubbed the Libby Legacy Project will be presented at the Little Theatre, in partnership with Humanities Montana and the Flathead Valley Community College’s Lincoln County Campus. The first presentation is on Wednesday, Sept. 12 and is free and open to the public. In 1999, Libby was designated a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency because of asbestos found in the vermiculite once mined in the area. Since then, hundreds of people have died or been sickened because of asbestos-related illnesses. The Libby Legacy Project lecture series, put on by a volunteer group of the same name, aims to tell the story of vermiculite mine. It will literally start from the beginning with a presentation about geology, mineralogy and the ore formation below Lincoln County. In the following weeks, guest speakers will talk about the discovery of vermiculite, the history of the mine, the contamination and eventual cleanup. “It can be a social science lesson, a science lesson and everything in between,” said Gene Reckin, a science teacher at Libby High School. Reckin will speak in October about the effect of asbestos on the human body. The series is aimed at local teachers and students at FVCC, who can earn college credit for attending. Reckin said one of the primary goals of the series is to educate teachers, who can pass the information on to their students. He hopes the story of the contamination will eventually be part of the regular school curriculum. “A whole lot of kids don’t know a lot about (the contamination) and a whole lot of what they do know is second- and third-hand information,” Reckin said. “Now they will be given all of the facts.” FVCC’s Lincoln County campus director Pat Pazzelle said the presentations would separate factual information from “emotional information.” Pazzelle worked with many community groups, including the CARD Clinic, the EPA and the school district, to establish the lecture series as a college credit course. But even if students will be attending the talks for class, Pazzelle insisted all are welcome. “It’s Libby’s chance to tell its story from its perspective,” he said. “The purpose is not to paint anyone as the bad guy. It’s just factual information and when people attend they can come to their own conclusions and feelings.” All nine lectures will be held at the Little Theatre on Louisiana Avenue in the School Administration Building at 4 and 7 p.m. on the following dates: Sept. 12, 20, 27; Oct. 4, 11, 25; and Nov. 1, 7 and 14. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Emaillast_img

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