Sep 28, 2007

LASO site manager addresses public safety group

CAROL A. CLARK Monitor County Editor

Area safety and security officials listened to an informative, entertaining and at times hilarious presentation by Los Alamos Site Office Manager Donald L. Winchell Jr. Thursday evening. The Los Alamos Public Safety Association hosted Winchell at their monthly meeting at the Posse Lodge.

Winchell launched into a humorous account of life growing up in Los Alamos. As he described various childhood antics, he jokingly said it was "other kids" and not himself who were involved.

Winchell spent his summers between 1967-1969 working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in radio chemistry and 30 years in the U.S. Navy before returning to LANL in August 2004. He worked most recently as a technical staff member and operations support division group leader. Winchell told the group that prior to joining the laboratory, he was vice president and deputy general manager for operations of Johnson Controls Northern New Mexico, LLC, which provided maintenance and infrastructure support to laboratory facilities.

Winchell took the helm of the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration Los Alamos Site Office on July 8. He supervises some 100 federal employees who oversee the contract management of security, quality assurance, and environmental, safety and health issues at LANL.

Since taking over, Winchell has focused much of his attention on revitalizing the federal oversight and management role of the site office.

"It is clear to me that the success of DOE is NNSA and the success of NNSA is the success of Los Alamos," Winchell said. "We are the guts of the nuclear weapons program. I think people are beginning to understand that the key to the whole program is Los Alamos."

He mentioned there is a lot of environmental cleanup to be done. "Our generation didn't cause this issue but we're going to clean it up," he said. "This is not an insurmountable problem, it will just take time and money."

Winchell told the group of some 30 members that he is encouraged by the things he sees. "One thing is absolutely clear: Los Alamos is going to be here a long time."

The Los Alamos Public Safety Association (LAPSA) was formed in 2006. The nonprofit organization is comprised of senior police, fire and emergency management personnel, the Magistrate Court judge, and security officials from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Protection Technologies Los Alamos.

Police Chief Wayne Torpy, the organization's president, explained the reason for the association.

"What we really wanted to do was have everyone get to know each other outside of crisis," he said.

Torpy praised Winchell for hitting the ground running in getting things done during his short time on the job.

Fire Chief Doug McDonald has known Winchell for several years and introduced him to the membership. "We are so fortunate to have you in the top dog position at LASO," McDonald said. "You have a DOD discipline, a private discipline and so many different disciplines that it's wonderful."

Winchell was born in Maryland, raised in Los Alamos, graduated from Los Alamos High School and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics from Oregon State University.

He retired from the Navy in 1999, following assignments that included service on four nuclear attack submarines, including command of USS DRUM. From 1989 to 1991, he commanded Submarine Squadron 22 in La Maddalena in Sardinia, Italy. Other tours included program management of a defense liaison division project, assistant chief of staff for material and logistic support for the Atlantic Submarine Force, executive officer of the Atlantic Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board and assignment to the Bureau of Personnel.

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