Business Briefs — February 2016

Foundation to announce scholarship winners

The Trios Foundation will have its Annual Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 17 at the Three Rivers Convention Center. The one-hour breakfast, which is open to the public, raises money for the Trios Foundation Scholarship Program and to support other hospital programs and services.

In addition to showcasing the Foundation’s results from the prior year, Trios Foundation scholarship winners and the winner of the Jim Mokler Outstanding Leadership and Service Award will be announced at the event.

Breakfast is complimentary with an RSVP. To register, visit the Foundation website at or call 509-221-5776.


Men’s Steak Night

Steak, the Word and men. The Men’s Steak Night at Calvary Chapel will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26. The event will include testimonies, fellowship and raffle items like tools, bibles, vacation rentals, archery lessons and more. Tickets are $15 per person and are available at Calvary Chapel Tri-Cities by calling 509-736-2086 or online at


Meals on Wheels seeks drivers

Meals on Wheels needs volunteers to deliver lunch meals weekdays to seniors in Pasco and Kennewick. The time commitment for delivery drivers is from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. one or two days each week. For more information, call 509-735-1911 or email


Pooch & Pal Run & Walk

Pet Over Population Prevention will have its 16th Annual Pooch and Pal Run & Walk at 9 a.m. Mar. 19 at Columbia Point Marina in Richland.

You can participate in the one mile or 5K event with or without a canine companion.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. or you can register online at The cost is $25, which includes a commemorative t-shirt, or $20 without a t-shirt.

This year’s event has a superhero theme, ‘My Dog, My Hero!’ Humans are encouraged to dress up. The event will include vendors, free Starbucks Coffee and Spudnuts.


Ag safety conference Feb. 24

Registration is now open for the Agriculture Safety Day, which will be Feb. 24 in Wenatchee. The full-day conference promotes workplace safety and health and is co-sponsored by the Department of Labor & Industries and the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board. The event provides a wide variety of workshops focused on preventing injuries and improving safety in the workplace. Many of the workshops are in both English and Spanish. This year’s conference features special training on how to manage hazards associated with ammonia; dairy and livestock safety; tractor/ATV safety; and potential health hazards in agriculture. Participants can earn Pesticide License recertification credits from qualifying classes and there will be exhibitors with education booths, product displays and demonstrations. Admission at the door is $70. Online pre-registration is $60 per person or $50 each for groups of five or more. Student admission either at the door or through online registration is only $25. Lunch is included. To register, visit For more information, contact Rebecca Llewellyn at 1-888-451-2004.


Sternwheeler to stop in Tri-Cities

The Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler will dock in the Tri-Cities from April 14-24. The historic sternwheeler will offer dining cruises and sightseeing cruises throughout the stay. Two-hour lunch cruises will be offered, as well as Sunday brunch cruises and dinner cruises. There will also be 5-hour cruises through the Snake River locks. For more information, call 503-224-3900 or 800-224-3901 or go to


EMS calls on the rise

Total call volumes for Benton County Fire District No. 4 rose by 7 percent when compared to 2014. The fire district responded to 1,322 calls for help and medical emergencies accounted for 63 percent of all calls during the same time period. Fire Chief Bill Whealan said that number is expected to increase as the local population ages and increase. Whealan said EMS is the most widely-used service the District offers.

Calls for EMS service in Benton County Fire District No. 4’s service territory have increased by 57 percent since voters approved funding for an EMS levy in 2010. The levy allows the fire district to provide transport services, and life support services using firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. The levy also pays for the fire district to staff another fire station, which has reduced ambulance response times by three minutes on average.

The current EMS levy expires at the end of 2016 and the District will likely ask voters to renew it during the August primary election at the same rate of fifty cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The Board of Fire Commissioners is also considering asking voters to remove the expiration date.

Whealan said a permanent EMS levy would provide a stable funding source for the District’s most widely-used emergency services and help the agency plan long-term to improve the program. It would also save money on election costs, which can be as much as $36,000 every time the District places an issue on the ballot.


Chamber plans award night

The Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will have its annual award ceremony, Una Noche de Exitos from 6 to 9 p.m. April 15 at the Pasco Red Lion. The Chamber is seeking nominations for its awards. The event is an opportunity to recognize and publicly thank those who work to make our community a better place to live. For the purpose of the awards, the meaning of Latino is not restricted solely to ethnicity, however, individuals nominated for the awards should reflect an obvious dedication to local Latino families, businesses and/or communities. For information or to nominate someone for an award, go to


Alaska Air CEO to speak

Brad Tilden, CEO and president of Alaska Air Group, will be the featured speaker at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce’s February networking luncheon.

The luncheon, sponsored by Gesa Credit Union, will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25 at the Three Rivers Convention Center.

Tilden will share how Alaska Airlines preserves the unique culture of the people delivering award-winning service, pioneering aviation technology and innovation, and how its employees work together to remain a strong, independent airline, as well as Alaska’s vision for air travel in the Pacific Northwest.

The event is open to the public. The cost is $22 for Chamber members and $32 for all others. Reservations are require by Feb. 19. To register, email or call 509-491-3234. You may also register online at For more information about the program, call 509-736-0510.


Annual awards banquet planned

The annual Kennewick Man & Woman of the Year Banquet will be Feb. 29 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. The event, which is sponsored by Soroptimist International of Pasco-Kennewick and the Kennewick Past Men of the Year Club, begins with a social hour at 6:15 p.m., with dinner at 6:45 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony.

The cost is $35 per person or $350 for a sponsored table of 8. For more information or to RSVP, call 509-736-1973 or email RSVP’s required by Feb. 23. For more information, go to


Wine Fête scheduled

The 15th Annual Wine Fête will be Mar. 12 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. The event benefits the Children’s Development Center, a local nonprofit.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a champagne reception and silent auction, followed by a five-course dinner and live auction. There will be dancing after dinner and the live auction.

Tickets are $140 per person and must be purchased in advance. Reserve your seat and pay online at


Dine Out for United Way

The 10th Anniversary of United Way’s annual Dine Out event will be Mar. 3. On Thursday, Mar. 3, participating restaurants will donate 50 percent or more of their proceeds to United Way. This year’s participating restaurants include Atomic Ale Brewpub & Eatery, Casa Mia, Emerald of Siam, Fiesta Mexican Restaurant, Gordon Estates Wine Bar, Mezzo Thai, Monterosso’s Italian Restaurant, Papa John’s and The Crow’s Nest. For more information, go to


Hatch to speak

Krisann Hatch will be the featured speaker at a succession planning luncheon hosted by Columbia Basin Chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management.

Hatch is Archbright’s regional manager for HR Solutions in Eastern Washington. She works with companies to strategize, innovate and implement HR solutions, deliver employee-development training and to provide advice consultation and support on a wide-range of HR issues.

The luncheon will be 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Pasco Red Lion. The cost is $20 for members and $25 for all others. Register online at For more information, contact Wendy Munson at 509-551-0069.


TRIDEC plans annual meeting

The Tri-City Development Council’s 53rd Annual Meeting and Luncheon will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. Mar. 30 at the Three Rivers Convention Center. Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, will give the keynote presentation, ‘Building a Brighter, Smarter Viticulture Industry.”

TRIDEC will highlight its success during 2015, recognize outgoing board members and introduce its 2016 board of directors.

The cost is $30 for members and $35 for all others. Register by calling 509-735-1000 or online at


Chamber to host workshop

The Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center, or PTAC, and the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce will present a free workshop, ‘Government Contracting Essentials’ from 10 a.m. to noon, Feb. 17, at the Bechtel Board Room at the Tri-Cities Business & Visitor Center in Kennewick. Ashley Coronado, PTAC business counselor, will give the presentation. The class is free for all, but registration is required at For more information, call Coronado at 509-491-3231.


Nuclear power plant sets new record

Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station, the third largest producer of electricity in Washington and the state’s only nuclear energy power plant, sent 860,813 net megawatt-hours of electricity to the Northwest power grid — a new monthly record. The previous record of 859,619 net megawatt-hours was set in December.

Columbia Generating Station began commercial operation in 1984. The nuclear power plant operated at a 104.5 percent capacity factor during January. The capacity factor is a ratio based on the maximum amount of electricity the plant could send to the grid at the most restrictive time of the year, which for thermal power plants is during the summer. Columbia Generating Station’s output increased at least 28 average megawatts following Refueling and Maintenance Outage 22, which concluded in June. With the increased output, Columbia’s baseline average electricity generation is now1,190 MW. All of Columbia’s electricity is sold at cost to Bonneville Power Administration and 92 Northwest utilities receive a percentage of its output.


Vit Plant reaches milestones

In 2015, employees at the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, made excellent progress on construction of the plant, intended to treat the radioactive liquid waste at the Hanford site.

Workers completed the importance 30 percent design milestone of the capability to send tank waste directly to the Low-Activity Waste Vitrification Facility, or LAW. The 30 percent design review for the capability is an important step toward initial construction.

Work also near completion on the Thermal Catalytic Oxidizers, a major component in the LAW facility’s off-gas treatment system. Once completed, the TCO will undergo testing at the fabricator’s facility before installation.

Construction focus at the Analytical Laboratory, another of the Vit Plant’s four major facilities, has moved toward outfitting the laboratory with equipment and fixtures before turning the facility over to the startup group, which will ensure all systems are working properly.

Construction was also completed on several of the plant’s infrastructure systems. All major systems in two electrical switchgear facilities and a non-radioactive liquid waste disposal facility were transferred from the Vit Plant construction group to the startup group.

At the High-Level Waste Vitrification Facility, workers completed 22 concrete placements for walls and floors in the nearly 600,000-sq.-foot facility.

For more information, go to


Alaska Air Group increases dividend

The board of directors of Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK) declared a quarterly cash dividend of 27.5 cents per share, payable Mar. 8, to all shareholders of record as of Feb. 23. This is the third time the company has raised the dividend since initiating it in July of 2013. The average dividend increase has been 40 percent. Dividends are financed from operating cash flow and cash on hand. Alaska Airlines, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group (NWSE:ALK), together with its partner regional airlines, serves more than 100 cities through an expansive network in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.


Alaska Air to start nonstop Spokane-Anchorage flights

Alaska Airlines will begin weekly nonstop service between Anchorage, Alaska and Spokane starting June 11 through Aug. 27. The first nonstop service is being done for the peak summer travel season. Flights will be operated by fuel-efficient Next Generation 737 aircraft.


Legends seeks grant applications

Legends Casino in Toppenish is seeking applications for its Ninth Annual Yakima Cares grant program. Applications are being accepted through Mar. 31 for this year’s grant cycle.

In 2015, the Charitable Contributions Fund distributed $419,953 to 200 area nonprofits. Grant recipients included schools, senior services, veteran services, food banks, shelters, and many more in Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties.

A committee of five community members and Yakama Nation Legends Casino employees receives an average of 500 to 800 applications annually to evaluate. The applications undergo three to four rounds of cuts before the final selection. Historically, applications addressing youth and educational needs, medical benefits to the community, or assistance to senior citizens are given preference.

Applications can be found at under the Community heading.


PSD offers forums

The Pasco School District is inviting community members to several upcoming public forums.

Deputy Superintendent Michelle Whitney offer Community Conversations forums from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the Downtown branch of the Mid-Columbia Libraries and from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25 at the West Pasco branch of the Mid-Columbia Libraries.

The events are focused on gaining the perspective of the community on the future of New Horizons High School. The forums are also less formal than a regularly scheduled school board meeting and will offer the community an opportunity to talk with the board about the issues.


SCORE sees record demand

Mid-Columbia Tri-Cities SCORE has seen record demand for assistance over the past few months that has resulted in a year-over-year increase in overall mentoring. Jamie Nettles, the chapter co-chairman, said that more than 2,500 of new and existing clients were helped in 2015. The Mid-Columbia Tri-Cities SCORE Chapter currently provides resources and services in 15 counties covering Idaho, Oregon and Washington, making it the largest Chapter in the country, in terms of miles served. For more information about SCORE, call 509-735-1000 ext. 235 or go to


Key announces results

Key Technology Inc. has announced its sales and operating results for its 2016 first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2015.

Net sales for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2015 totaled $24.8 million, compared to $20.1 million recorded in the corresponding quarter last year. The Company reported a net loss for the quarter of $1.7 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $1.8 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago.

The gross profit for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 was $7 million, compared to $5.5 million during the same time in 2015. As a percentage of net sales, gross profit was 28.1 percent and 27.3 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2016 and 2015, respectively. Operating expenses for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2015 were $9.4 million or 37.8 percent of net sales, compared to $8.7 million, or 43.3 percent of sales in the same quarter last year.

Jack Ehren, Key president and CEO, said first quarter sales were still low due to a significant portion of this backlog not being scheduled to ship until after the first quarter. Gross margins for the first quarter were again challenged due to a product mix consisting of a low volume of higher margin automated inspection systems products. Operating expenses in the first quarter included $680,000 of restructuring charges, all of which are recorded in general and administrative expenses.

Key’s backlog at the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2016 was $37 million, compared to $28.7 million a year ago. New orders received during the first quarter were $31 million, compared to $30.5 million during the same time last year.


Lourdes offers scholarships

Lourdes Foundation and Lourdes Auxiliary will award seven scholarships to local students seeking to advance their education for a healthcare-related field.

To be considered for a scholarship, students must pursue undergraduate degrees in nursing or other healthcare-related fields, live in Benton and Franklin counties, or in Burbank, and complete the required application by April 29. Special consideration will be based on academic achievement, volunteerism and financial need.

Six recipients will be awarded $1,500 towards their educational goals in the healthcare field and one recipient will be awarded the $500 Sandberg-Stank Memorial Nursing Scholarship, which is funded by the Tensmeyer Family. Scholarships will be awarded in May and recipients will be recognized at the Annual Scholarship Luncheon.

For more information or to apply for a Lourdes Health Network Scholarship, contact Kaury Balcom by calling 509-543-2412, or by email at, or go to


Gesa offers scholarships

Gesa Credit Union will offer ten $2,000 scholarships and one $5,000 scholarship to local high school seniors entering college in the fall. In addition, Gesa will offer five $2,000 scholarships and one $5,000 continuing education scholarships for current college students who plan to continue their higher education at any accredited college or university.

Applicants must be Gesa Credit Union members in good standing, graduating high school with a 3.0 or higher cumulative GP and entering their freshman year of college as a full-time student or returning as a full-time college student in the fall.

Applications are available at and are due by Feb. 28.


PayneWest to acquire Wells Fargo Insurance operations

PayneWest Insurance Inc., the largest independent, employee-owned, agency in the Northwest, has entered into an agreement with Wells Fargo Insurance to purchase their Yakima and Wenatchee insurance operations. Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close on or about April 1, were not disclosed.

PayneWest has been operating in Yakima since February 2014 when they acquired McGree Insurance.

Serving clients in Yakima since 1978 and Wenatchee since 1991, Wells Fargo Insurance will continue to serve customers through its existing local offices until the transaction closes, when the company’s 31 team members will be offered continuous employment by PayneWest Insurance. In Washington, PayneWest also has locations in Richland and Spokane.


Richland hiring lifeguards

The City of Richland Parks and Recreation Department is recruiting lifeguards and swim instructors for the summer season. Full and part-time positions, including weekends and evenings, are needed. Lifeguards must be certified by hire date. To fill out an application, go to For more information, call 509-942-7534.

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