Business Briefs — April 2016

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Spring Senior Times Expo

About 55 vendors will be on hand for the Spring Senior Times Expo, which will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 19 at the Pasco Red Lion. The event is free for attendees.

The event is geared toward Baby Boomers and seniors who live throughout the Mid-Columbia. Vendors will offer information about regional activities, health care, investment, retirement, senior living facilities and more.

The expo, which takes place twice a year, is free for attendees and includes a Hunt for the Treasure contest with more than two dozen prizes, including Dust Devil tickets, retail gift cards, Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre tickets and more.

Today seniors are more affluent, educated and active than ever before, with that in mind, the Senior Times Expo strives to provide valuable information, access to a wide range of health services and products, new opportunities and ideas that interest them. Exhibitors include insurance professionals, healthcare companies, investment professionals, community organizations, retirement communities, fitness businesses, pharmaceuticals, security, assisted living facilities, nonprofit organizations, senior organizations and more.

The vendors often offer free promotional items to attendees.

For more information about the Senior Times Expo, contact Mike Haugen at 737-8778.

 

Insurance agents to build Habitat home

Insurance agents in the Tri-Cities are being asked to help address the need for affordable housing throughout the community from May through October. During that time, local volunteers will help construct a Habitat for Humanity home in Pasco’s Whitehouse Edition for a local family.

During the Insurance Build challenge, insurance agents in the community will devote at least one day to building a simple, decent and affording housing in the Tri-Cities.

Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity invites all insurance agents, women and men, across the Tri-Cities to help make the dream of homeownership a reality for a local family. No construction skills are necessary. To volunteer or donate to this project, call 509-543-5555 or visit Habitatbuilds.com. Groundbreaking on the project will be from 11 a.m. to noon April 16 and there will be a wall raising at noon May 20.

 

Gem & Mineral Show planned

The Lakeside Gem & Mineral Club will have its 20th Annual Gem & Mineral Show April 16-17 at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

There will be a large variety of gems, minerals and fossils on display and available for purchase.

The show will be held in Building 1 at the fairgrounds and admission is $5 for adults. Children 14 and under are free if they are accompanied by an adult.

The event includes demonstrations on how to cut spheres out of solid rock, how to crack geodes and the art of jewelry making. There will also be a junior rock hounds corner, where children can experience discovering precious treasures and win prizes.

The show offers door prizes and silent auctions throughout both days at 30-minute intervals. The show opens at 10 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.

For information, go to the website at lakesidegemandmineralclub.com.

 

Banquet helps recovering addicts

The Pacific Northwest Adult & Teen Challenge Tri-Cities Campus will have a banquet to support its addiction recovery services in the Tri-Cities. The banquet will feature a talk by a recovering addict and how his life was changed by the program.

The event is at 6 p.m. April 22 at the Red Lion Hotel. Tickets are $25 and are available at the door. For more information, call 509-845-7711, email phillip.quintanilla@tcpnw.com, or go to teenchallengepnw.com.

 

Tri-Citian of the Year

The Tri-Citian of the Year will be named at the annual banquet at 6 p.m. April 21 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. The Tri-Citian of the Year exemplifies the highest standards of community service, leadership and the voluntary contribution of selfless acts to positively impact community development, economic growth and the overall well-being of mankind. Matt Potratz, an elite snowmobile free-rider, will be the keynote speaker.

Tickets are $50 per person. For reservations or more information, call Ruby Ochoa at 509-572-4056 or email tricitianoftheyear@gmail.com.

 

Extension offers volunteer training

The Washington State University Extension service will provide training for Master Food Preserver volunteers in Benton and Franklin counties beginning April 19.

Participants receive more than 30 hours of intensive training on all aspects of food safety, food storage and food preservation. Once trained, volunteers are asked to provide 50 hours of time helping others in the community through education and outreach. Volunteer time is most often completed by staffing educational booths at local Farmer’s Markets, teaching classes or answering consumer questions on the phone.

There is a $75 registration fee to cover the cost of training materials. For more information, contact the WSU Benton County Extension office in Kennewick at 509-735-3551.

 

Spring plant sale planned

The WSU Master Gardeners of Benton & Franklin Counties will have its annual Spring Plant Sale Friday, May 6.

The event will be 2 – 6 p.m. at the Master Gardener’s Demonstration Gardens behind the library at 1620 S. Union St. in Kennewick. The annual spring plant sale features a wide variety of vegetable and flowering plants, herbs, grasses and trees grown by local Master Gardeners. This year’s event includes a used tool sale and there will be Master Gardeners available to answer questions and give advice.

 

Habitat seeks volunteers for Women Build

Women in the Tri-Cities are being invited to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity’s ninth annual National Women Build Event. Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity is one of more than 300 Habitat affiliates hosting Women Build projects with support from Lowe’s, Habitat’s longtime event partner.

From May through October, local volunteers will help construct a home in Pasco’s Whitehouse Edition for a local family.

National Women Build Event challenges women to devote at least one day to building simple, decent and affordable house in their local communities. More than 62,000 women from all 50 states have volunteered in previous years. Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008 and each year conducts how-to clinics at stores to teach volunteers construction skills. This year, Lowe’s contributed nearly $2 million to National Women Build Week.

Locally, a clinic on framing and sheathing will be from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 23 at the Kennewick Lowe’s. Anyone, regardless of gender, interested in learning or improving construction skills is welcome.

To volunteer, register for the Lowe’s clinic, or donate to this project, call 509-943-5555 or visit habitatbuilds.com.

 

Taco Crawl planned

Mexican restaurants and taco trucks in downtown Pasco are supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties by participating in the Pasco Taco Crawl 2016.

Customers, called Taco Crawlers, will purchase a booklet containing vouchers good for one taco from each of the 20 participating establishments. The vouchers are valid from April 22 through May 7. The booklets cost $20.

After trying as many tacos as they can, the Crawlers will vote for the favorite to determine who makes the Best Taco in Pasco. Voting closes May 6 and the winner will be announced at the Downtown Pasco Development Authority’s Cinco de Mayo Festival May 7.

For more information or to purchase booklets, go to pascotacocrawl.com.

 

Bell of the Desert to perform

The Bells of the Desert, a Tri-Cities’ handbell ensemble, will have its spring concert, ‘Wade in the Water,’ at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 23 at the Central United Protestant Church in Richland. The concert will feature a variety of music. A suggested donation of $10 is being accepted at the door. For more information, go to bellsofthedesert.org.

 

U.S. Coast Guard offers open house

The U.S. Coast Guard will have its Fourth Annual USCG Open House 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30 at its headquarters at 434 Clover Island Dr. in Kennewick.

The event features tours of the Coast Guard vessels and facilities, motorcycle and K-9 demonstrations, games and a hot dog cookout. The event is free and open to the public.

 

Hanford High presents Our Town

Hanford High Center Stage will present the Thornton Wilder’s classic play, ‘Our Town’ April 15, 16, 22 & 23 at the Hanford High School auditorium. The play begins at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are available at the door and are $10 for adults and $8 for students & seniors.

Fire Commission passes levy resolution

The Board of Fire Commissioners for Benton County Fire District No. 4 has unanimously passed a resolution to ask voters to renew a levy for Emergency Medical Service during the August 2016 primary election. As part of its EMS program, Fire District No. 4 provides transport services, EMT and paramedics that provide advanced life support.

In 2015, the district responded to 1,322 calls, 63 percent of which were EMS related. EMS calls have increased 57 percent for the district since voters approved funding for the program in 2010.

The current EMS levy expires at the end of 2016. If renewed by voters, the levy rate would remain at 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That means the owner of a $250,000 home would pay about $125 per year to support 24-hour paramedic response.

The ballot measure would also make the EMS levy permanent, stabilizing funding for the agency and saving money on election costs. For more information, go to bcfd4.org.

 

PEDA plans annual meeting

The Prosser Economic Development Association will have its annual meeting from 5:30 – 7 p.m. May 3 at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser.

Dr. Marc Baldwin, assistant director for forecasting and research at Washington State’s Office of Financial Management, will be the keynote speaker. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit prosser.org.

 

ACT seeking HS interns

The Academy of Children’s Theatre is accepting applications for its summer intern program, which is open to high school students grades 9-12. The program offers a summer education intern and a classroom apprenticeship.

Summer education interns are interested in theater, willing to learn about running a theatre and assist in the classroom and office.

Classroom apprentices have already completed a year as a summer education intern and are interested in theater education and having a leadership role in the classroom.

The application deadline is April 28.

Applications are available at academyofchildrenstheatre.org. For more information, contact Josh Darby at 509-943-6027 or email josh@actstaff.org.

 

Grant County PUD fined

Grant County Public Utility District #2 has been fined $35,000 for five serious safety violations following an explosion at its Priest Rapids Dam in Beverly. Six workers were hospitalized with very serious electrical burns from the incident last October.

Under supervision, the workers were troubleshooting a mechanical problem with a generator. The workers did not know that a circuit had been re-energized when they closed a breaker, causing the high-voltage electrical arc flash explosion.

An investigation by the Department of Labor & Industries concluded the arc flash could have been prevented if the employer had ensured the use of safety locks and safeguards to prevent the breaker from being closed when other parts of the circuit were energized.

The investigation found that: the PUD did not ensure the use of lock-out/tag-out safety devises to prevent inadvertently closing a breaker; employees were not briefed on the circuit conditions that affected them; employees were not aware the lock-out/tag-out safety devises had been removed; one worker was not wearing fire-resistant clothing while working on the hydro-electric equipment; and the PUD did not provide any records showing it was in compliance with state regulations on protecting workers from injury due to hazardous energy.

 

Chamber kicks off spring challenge

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Good Health is Good Business Spring Challenge Kick-Off Luncheon will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco. A Health & Wellness Expo will precede the event from 11 a.m. to noon.

The luncheon’s keynote speaker will be Joe Piscatella, president of the Institute of Fitness and Health. Piscatella is the author of 14 books and a WebMD expert.

The cost of the luncheon is $22 for Regional Chamber members and $32 for all others. Reservations are required by April 22. Register online at tricityregionalchamber.com or call 509-491-3234.

 

Register for Trios Golf Classic

The 17th Annual Trios Foundation Golf Classic will be June 17 at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick. This year’s event offers morning and afternoon shotgun starts at 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., with the morning flight open to individual players the afternoon reserved for corporate teams and sponsors. Registration closes June 10. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

For more information or to register, go to trioshealth.org/Golf or call Mandy Wallner at 509-221-5776.

 

Rotary dedicates garden

Columbia Center Rotary Charity dedicated its gift of a garden and pathway to the Washington State University Wine Science Center at WSU Tri-Cities on April 14. The Columbia Center Rotary Charity donated $200,000 in funding over two years to develop the garden and pathway, which provides a functional and aesthetically pleasing paved walkway, as well as educational gardens, planting beds and a grassy picnic area. Basalt columns and seats in the garden also serve as recognition monuments for the Wine Science Center’s donor base. Columbia Center Rotary Club volunteered hundreds of hours to help in the design, construction and maintenance of the garden.

 

B Reactor tours available

In partnership with the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Energy has opened registration for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park’s 2016 public tour season at Hanford.

Hanford is one of the three primary Manhattan Project locations created during W.W.II.

There will be two tour programs that provide access to the park sites at Hanford in 2016. Both are free and open to visitors of all ages and nationalities. Additional capacity has been added for 2016, with tours running Monday through Saturday from April 18 through Nov. 19. A total of about 14,000 seats will be available during the season.

One tour will focus on Hanford’s B Reactor National Historic Landmark and offer visitors the chance to see the world’s first full scale nuclear production reactor. The B Reactor tour, which lasts about four hours, includes transportation to and from the B Reactor and a walking tour of the facility.

Visitors will be able to reserved up to six seats per registration. For more information, tour dates and to register, go to manhattanprojectbreactor.hanford.gov.

The second tour explores the history of the mid-Columbia Basin prior to the eviction of homeowners and tribes in 1943. The tour lasts about four hours and includes bus transportation, interpretation and short walking tours of the Bruggemann Warehouse, Hanford High School, the First bank of White Bluffs and more. For more information, tour dates or to register, go to tours.hanford.gov/historicTours/.

 

CBC wins competition

Columbia Basin College Cyber Security students won the Pacific Rim Region Cyber Defense competition’s first prize and will head to the national competition April 22-24 in San Antonio, Tex.

Student teams were tasked with protecting computer networks against the same type of real-world cyber threats infiltrating major retailers, corporations, social networks and financial institutions.

CBC defeated programs from 12 other colleges and universities, including University of Washington, Central Washington University, Western Washington University and the University of Idaho.

 

Crop insurance deadline nears

Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington nursery growers must apply for crop insurance coverage by May 1. Current policyholders who wish to make changes to their existing coverage also have until May 1 to do so. Growers applying for the first time may purchase coverage at any time.

Crop insurance provides protection against a loss in production due to natural perils like wind, hurricane and freeze.

For more information, go to rma.usda.gov.

 

Benton, Franklin counties gain jobs

The Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metropolitan Statistical Area added 4,000 new nonfarm jobs, not seasonally-adjusted, from February 2015 to February 2016.

The local unemployment rate at 8.1 percent, decreased .3 percent from January’s rate of 8.4 percent, according to estimates by the federal Bureau of Labor.

In January, the Benton County unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, while the Franklin County unemployment rate was 9.7 percent.

The state’s unemployment rate was 5.8 percent and the U.S. unemployment rate is 4.9 percent.

The number of unemployed workers in Benton and Franklin counties decreased to 10,613 in February 2016, a decrease of 3.2 percent year-over-year.

New job growth was driven by industries across the spectrum, including government, administrative and support services, food services, retail trade, private education and healthcare services, manufacturing and financial activities.

 

Hispanic Chamber offers Cyber Security panel

The Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s April luncheon and general membership meeting will feature a Cyber Security panel of experts.

The luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 19 at the Pasco Red Lion.

The Cyber Security Panel will feature Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fritz, Matt Boehnke and Albert Torres.

The cost is $20 for members and $25 for all others. RSVP online at tricitieshcc.org.

 

Columbia Chorale to perform

Columbia Chorale’s Spring Concert will be at 3 p.m. April 24 at the Kennewick First Presbyterian Church, 2001 W. Kennewick Ave., Kennewick.

The chorale has been active in the community for more than 50 years and is made up of people of all ages and skill levels. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

For more information, go to columbiachorale.net.

 

Solutions Summit 2016

Former New York governor and presidential candidate George Pataki will be the keynote speaker at the Washington Policy Center’s Solutions Summit 2016.

The statewide policy conference will be 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. May 18 at the Three Rivers Convention Center. It will feature experts on education, health care reform and more.

Tickets for the event start at $35 per person. Register at washingtonpolicy.org/events.

 

Transition to WAI complete

Following a successful transition, Wastren Advantage Inc. now has full responsibility for management of analytical testing services at the 222-S Laboratory at Hanford.

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection awarded WAI a two-year contract with three one-year options last summer. The transition began in September and was complete in late November.

The 222-S Laboratory analyzes samples from Hanford’s most radioactive and hazardous chemical wastes. The contractor is expected to perform analysis on inorganic, organic and radiochemical samples. Work is done under fume hoods or in the lab’s hot cells, with operators outside the cells manipulating tools inside the cells. The lab currently employs about 50 workers and that is expected to grow.

 

WPC delves into agriculture

The Washington Policy Center, an independent research organization with offices in Seattle, Olympia, Spokane and Tri-Cities, has expanded its research team into the area of Agriculture.

The new WPC research arm focused on Agriculture will join WPC’s other research centers: Education, Environment, Government Reform, Health Care, Small Business & Labor Reform, and Transportation.

WPC plans to hire a research director that will focus specifically on agriculture, its impact on the state, the regulatory burden facing farming families, the importance of water availability and more.

The new WPC Initiative on Agriculture will officially open by late spring 2016 when the new director is in place.

 

EN has lowest nuclear fuel costs

An analysis published in March in Platts’ Nuclear Fuel found Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station had the lowest nuclear fuel cost of 28 plants surveyed across the country. Columbia’s fuel cost for fiscal year 2013 was 5.99 mills per kilowatt-hour of generation. A mill is one-tenth of a cent. The average for the 28 plants surveyed is 8.16 mills per kwh, according to the report.

 

Irrigation district settles

The Touchet Eastside Westside Irrigation District agreed to pay a reduced fine over violations for illegally using water intended to protect fish.

The Washington Department of Ecology fined the district in 2015 for diverting water that was placed into trust to protect critical stream flows for threatened steelhead in the Touchet River.

The Touchet River is part of a watershed that is one of 16 considered critical for providing habitat for threatened migratory fish. Ecology reduced the fine to $62,543 from the original $73,530 because the district provided adjusted metering data that more accurately reflected the amount of water illegally used.

The settlement requires the district to pay half the penalty and the remainder will be excused after three years as long as terms in the agreement are met.