For the last 25 years, a group of Pantexans have met during lunch to improve their communication and leadership skills. The Pantex Lunch Bunch Toastmasters Club recently celebrated the club’s silver anniversary with a special meeting.
“The Lunch Bunch is one of 15 clubs in the Amarillo area and one of 16,400 clubs around the world, “ said Pantexan Natalie Waters, Toastmasters immediate past District 23 director. “In the past decade, members of club number 9440 have received approximately 111 Toastmasters awards and the club has been designated as Distinguished in eight of the past 10 years.”
Waters, whose term ends June 30, recognized visiting Toastmasters dignitaries and shared the organization’s background and values for visitors and potential members during the event.
Dennis Williams, a Pantex laboratory technician and founding club member, shared how membership has impacted his career, and guest speaker Alonzo Everhart, a Pantex senior operations advisor, shared his tips for communicating in stressful situations. NPO Facility Representative Jessie Phifer acknowledged how far she’s come since her first speech full of fidgeting and filler words.
“I may not have been the ‘um’ queen, but I was the queen of other things such as ‘like’ and ‘you know’,” admitted Phifer.
Keynote speaker Deputy Site Manager Corey Strickland stressed the importance of building a solid communication pipeline and how active listening has helped in his nearly 25-year career at Pantex.
“Effective communication is the cornerstone of being a good leader,” said Strickland.
The 25th anniversary celebration also included door prizes, a club president “changing of the guard”, and a reception for members and guests.
The Pantex Lunch Bunch Toastmasters Club meets Thursdays in the JCDC S1.C102 conference room from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Guests are always welcome.
Going by the name “Just Kickin’ It,” a group of employees in Pantex Safety Analysis Engineering (SAE) displayed the true definition of teamwork during last season’s kickball league. The league, organized by @Socialete Sports, gave the SAE team the opportunity to kick balls, run bases, and socialize with people from all walks of life.
The passion on the field translated to the office. “Safety analysts take their work seriously, and we consistently work as a team to get tasks done. Constantly in competition, we work hard against ourselves, peers, and deadlines to meet daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals,” team member Terrence Cooper said.
Pantex Emergency Management received the Texas Emergency Management Partnership Recognition Award at the annual Texas Department of Emergency Management Conference in San Antonio. Each year, this award is given to one business, nonprofit, school, hospital, or government agency for contribution to its local community by demonstrating a significant commitment to creating a strong partnership with the local government officials and participation in local community preparedness initiatives.
Congratulations to Pantex Fire Chief Mike Brock who has successfully completed the professional designation of chief fire officer.
Manager of Pantex Emergency Services Daniel Gleaves said, “Mike is one of only 1,305 CFOs worldwide. It’s another example of his dedication and professionalism.”
A comprehensive peer review determined Brock met the stringent criteria, which includes demonstrating excellence in his experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association membership, community involvement, and technical competence.
Article by James D. Ray, Wildlife Biologist
Although the Texas Panhandle’s winter was fairly mild this year, I was definitely looking forward to spring. As a kid growing up in the northwestern corner of the area, we didn’t have mesquite trees that many south of us believe leaf out only after the threat of the last freeze has passed. The sign of spring that I watched for every year was the arrival of the western kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis). Back then, I called them "yellow-bellies" because the bird has lemon-yellow undersides. The bird is ashy-gray on top, and its tail feathers are black except for the white outer tail feathers that are especially conspicuous in flight. There was no mistaking their arrival; western kingbird’s plumage and shape is not easily confused with other birds in our area, and they are quite noisy when claiming territories and mates. In addition, they have a habit of perching on exposed wires and dead tree branches.
Aptly included in a guild of birds referred to as tyrant flycatchers, the bird is frequently observed aggressively mobbing hawks and other larger birds that it feels are a threat to its eggs and young. This behavior can include physical contact, which is quite effective in keeping aerial predators moving along. Oftentimes, kingbirds from neighboring territories join in on the chase, causing quite a commotion. This can escalate after the chase ends as the residents of the territory remind the other kingbirds that they had better be moving along. As a youth, I would often climb trees and peek in on their nests and thus have experienced firsthand the bold attacks of these birds. I can attest to the normally-hidden red crown of the head that is shown to intruders at the end of their dives. Thus, the specific part of their scientific name, verticalis, which refers to crown.
Western kingbirds are associated with open country and are distributed across the state with the exception of the Piney Woods of East Texas. They are one of the more common birds observed at Pantex and the surrounding region. Occasionally, pairs can be found nesting as close to each other as 12 meters. Western kingbird nests are constructed on shrubs, trees, utility poles, backs of highway signs, buildings, and even parked farm implements. The nest is an open cup made of grass stems, rootlets, and other plant fibers and is lined with softer material like wool, cotton, and feathers. Western kingbirds incubate two to seven eggs at a time and raise one to two broods per year.
In typical flycatcher style, western kingbirds capture their flying insect prey by jumping or flying into the air from a perch and they will also fly out and snatch prey from the ground. The western kingbird spends our winters along the Pacific coast and adjacent interior of southern Mexico and Central America. In recent years, Florida has also hosted a wintering population of this bird.
The early arrivals of this harbinger of spring normally occur during the second half of April in this portion of northwest Texas. Right on cue, the Pantex agronomist spotted a western kingbird at his house during the third weekend of the month. Although certainly a sign of spring, I held off a week or two before becoming busy with spring gardening.
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An industrious pair of western kingbirds at Pantex built their nest right on top of spikes intended to prevent rock pigeons from roosting or nesting in that location. Often difficult to see, the kingbird’s red crown shows conspicuously in this photo.
A western kingbird nest on a structure at the Pantex Plant.