Business Briefs — May 2016

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


BFT plans open house events

Ben Franklin Transit is asking local residents to participate in a series of open house events to present the findings and recommendations from a recent BFT comprehensive service plan study.

Tony Kalmbach, BFT’s planning and service development manager, said the primary goals of the project are to improve local mobility within each community and regional mobility between communities. During the events, participants will have the opportunity to review the recommendations, ask questions and comment, as well as offer other ideas for improving transit in the area. The open house events will be: 4-7 p.m. May 18 at the Richland Library and the Benton City Community Center; 3:30 – 6:30 p.m., May 19, at the Mid-Columbia Library on Hopkins Street in Pasco; 4-7 p.m. May 19 at Benton PUD in Prosser; 4-7 p.m. May 20 at the West Richland branch of the Mid-Columbia Library on Van Giesen Street and at Benton PUD in Kennewick; and 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. May 21 at the Three Rivers Transit Center in Kennewick. The schedule is also listed in the Senior Times calendar on page 4 of this issue, with the venue addresses. For more information call 509-735-5100 or go to


Mid-Columbia Libraries makes policy change

The Mid-Columbia Libraries board has raised the suspension level for library cardholders with outstanding fines and fees from $10 to $25. The change allows 10,000 library customers to regain their privileges. Previously, when customers accumulated $10 or more in overdue fines, replacement fees or other library dues, they were no longer given access to check out library items. Despite the increase, 13,000 cardholders are suspended from library use. The MCL has more than 154,700 cardholders.


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 or call Mandy Wallner at 509-221-5776.


BCFD 4 celebrates Emergency Medical Service Week

Benton County Fire District 4 joins fire agencies across the country to celebrate Emergency Medical Service Week May 15-21. The event seeks to bring awareness to the important role EMS programs and first responders play in saving lives in their communities.

Fire District 4 has produced a brief video about its fire and EMS program through a unique partnership with the Tri-Tech Skills Center. The fire district approached Mike Greif, an instructor who teaches Digital Arts and Filmmaking, for help with the project late last year. Greif made the production a class project, where students shot footage, edited, produced, and provided the voice-over narration.

In 2015, Fire District 4 responded to 1,322 calls for help – 63 percent of which were EMS-related. In fact, EMS calls have increased 57 percent for the fire district just since voters approved funding for the program in 2010.

The EMS levy has allowed the fire district to staff another station, which has reduced ambulance response times by three minutes on average. In addition to emergency personnel, funding is used for training and certifications, ambulances, maintenance, medical equipment, first aid supplies, and equipment replacement.

Fire District 4 funds the EMS program through a voter-approved levy, which expires at the end of the year. The Board of Fire Commissioners is asking voters to renew the levy during the August Primary Election at the same rate of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation and to remove the expiration date. That means the owner of a $250,000 home would continue to pay approximately $10.42 per month (or $125 per year) for a 24-hour Paramedic response.

Information about Fire District 4’s levy renewal – including the video on its EMS program – can be found at


Horse owners advised to vaccinate for West Nile

Washington State Veterinarian Dr. Joe Baker is urging owners to vaccinate their horses for West Nile virus, following a year in which Washington had more confirmed equine cases than any other state. Thirty-six horses tested positive for the virus in 2015. By comparison, only five cases were reported positive in 2014, all in Eastern Washington.

The state veterinarian’s office is part of the Washington State Department of Agriculture and monitors cases of animal diseases, including West Nile virus. The West Nile virus vaccine has proven to be effective if administered to horses early enough for protection before mosquito season.

Baker said the most active cases of West Nile virus in Washington tend to develop in the south-central counties when warmer weather starts growing the mosquito population.

The first confirmed case last year was reported mid-July by Washington State University’s Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Pullman. There were eight cases in both Yakima and Kittitas counties, seven in Grant County and four in Benton County. In all, 10 counties reported cases.

The virus is potentially fatal to horses and is spread by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. While West Nile virus can sicken people, horses, birds and other animals, it does not directly spread from horses to people or other animals.

Horses require two doses of the vaccine initially, and then boosters at least annually.

Most horses exposed to the West Nile virus display no symptoms. Horses that do become ill often display loss of coordination, loss of appetite, confusion, fever, stiffness, and muscle weakness, particularly in their hindquarters. The disease is fatal in about one-third of the cases where clinical signs become apparent.

To reduce the risk, WSDA advises owners to keep horses indoors during the peak mosquito activity times of dawn and dusk, use insect repellant products and fly sheets to reduce exposure, eliminate sources of standing water nearby, and check areas where rain water may accumulate, like old tires or bird baths. It also helps to refresh the water in water troughs weekly.

Veterinarians who diagnose potential West Nile virus cases should contact the State Veterinarian’s Office at 360-902-1881. Visit WSDA’s West Nile virus webpage or the state Department of Health for more information.


Torch Award nominations sought

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest is accepting entries and nominations for the 2016 Business of the Year Torch Awards for Ethics.

Tyler Andrew, BBB CEO, said the Torch Awards honor businesses that align with BBB standards of trust.

The nomination deadline is June 5 and the application deadline is July 10. The award is open to accredited and non-accredited businesses in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Western Wyoming. To be considered, businesses must maintain at least a “B” rating and hold a satisfactory record with BBB.

Finalists will be contacted in July and recipients will be notified by early fall. Businesses honored previously include an online shopping company in Washington; a tour company in Alaska; an Oregon property management business and a heating and air conditioning company in Idaho.

To learn more about the Torch Awards for Ethics criteria, or to make a nomination, go to


Regional Chamber hosts State of the Cities

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce presents its “State of the Cities,” networking luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 25 at the Pasco Red Lion.

The event will feature Kennewick Mayor Steve Young, Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins, Richland Mayor Robert Thompson and West Richland Mayor Brent Gerry.

The luncheon is the only opportunity of the year for residents to hear from all four mayors in one showcase gathering.

The city leaders will present information about new economic development projects, major legislative priorities at the state and federal level, current projects that enhance quality of life and livability in the Tri-Cities, as well as a progress report on the implementation of the Tri-Cities community brand in each city.

The event is open to the public. The cost to attend is $22 for Regional Chamber members and $32 for all others. Reservations are required. The deadline to register is May 20.

To register, contact Jillian Marquez, project coordinator at or 509-491-3234, or visit For more information regarding the program and luncheon, please call 509-736-0510.


Payday loan collection scam

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions warns consumers about providing sensitive bank account or personal information on the telephone to callers that initiate contact with the consumer. Consumers are urged to verify license status and the identity of any party prior to giving the financial institution, company, or individual any nonpublic personal information, such as social security number or bank account number or access.

DFI received a complaint indicating that a representative claiming to represent an entity identified as ‘Inside Capital’ called a consumer and informed her that she needed to pay on a 2009 payday loan. The representative threatened to contact the consumer’s place of employment and to file a lawsuit. In addition, the representative had the consumer’s Social Security number and address. The consumer reported never having obtained a payday loan.

The phone numbers used or referenced in the call were 1-855-205-6357 and 1-877-746-4334.

Those claiming to represent Inside Capital are not licensed by DFI nor registered to conduct business in Washington State by the Department of Licensing, the Department of Revenue, or the Secretary of State.

DFI strongly recommends that consumers deal only with lenders that are properly licensed to conduct business. Consumers can determine whether lenders are properly licensed using the “Verify a License” feature on the DFI’s website at

Collection activities are subject to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Therefore, if you have questions regarding debt collection laws please contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC HELP, or online at

Debt collectors cannot state or imply that failure to pay a debt is a crime. They cannot call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. They cannot harass or abuse consumers, or contact consumers’ places of employment.


KID water curtailed

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials say that due to warm temperatures and lack of precipitation, water users with pro-ratable water rights, including the Kennewick Irrigation District, would be pro-rationed to 85 percent of its total water allotment.

KID will not be implementing water restrictions at this time. Total water supply available numbers are released monthly, but may be updated mid-month when necessary.

Because conditions can change rapidly, KID reminds customers that wise water use is always prudent. Consider planting low-water vegetation, replace lawn grass with Xeriscaping, reduce watering to three times per week for no longer than 30 minutes each time, and use high-efficiency devices, such as micro-spray and drip-line irrigation to reduce overwatering. Apply water only where it is needed. For more information, go to or find them on Facebook.


Hospitals earn strong safety scores

Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla — both Providence Health & Services hospitals — received the highest possible patient safety scores by The Leapfrog Group, ranking them among the safest hospitals in the U.S.

Developed under the guidance of Leapfrog’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score uses 30 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public.

For the first time, the Hospital Safety Score includes five measures of patient-reported experience with the hospital as well as two of the most common infections, C.diff and MRSA.

To see Kadlec’s and Providence SMMC’s full scores and how other area hospitals rated go to Consumers may also download the free Hospital Safety Score mobile app at the site.


NFCS reports earnings

Northwest Farm Credit Services, the Northwest’s leading financial cooperative supporting agriculture and rural communities, announced 2015 earnings of $255.6 million, an increase of $27.5 million, or 12.0 percent compared to $228.1 million in 2014. Increased earnings were primarily the result of continued loan growth and positive credit quality trends. Total capital increased 8.6 percent during the year to $2.1 billion.

NFCS President and CEO Phil DiPofi said 2015 was another solid year for the association.

“We’ve continued to build a strong financial base to meet our customers’ growing needs for credit and work with them to prepare for volatility in the marketplace. Based on strong earnings, reserves and capital levels we are sharing a higher percentage of the associations’ profits with our customer-members this year,” he said.

As a cooperative, Northwest FCS returns a share of its net earnings to customer-members in the form of patronage dividends. The Northwest FCS board recently approved an increase in patronage from 0.75 percent to 1.0 percent of a customer’s eligible average daily loan balance. Cash patronage returned for 2015 totaled a record $91.9 million compared to $64.1 million for 2014. Since the patronage program began in 2000, Northwest FCS has returned $590.6 million in cash patronage to customer-members.

Northwest FCS is a $10.6 billion financial cooperative providing financing and related services to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, commercial fishermen, timber producers, rural homeowners and crop insurance customers in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Northwest FCS is a member of the nationwide Farm Credit System that supports agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. For more information, go to


Comments sought on shoreline plan

A program to manage shorelines in Franklin County is open for comment through the Washington Department of Ecology.

The proposed shoreline program will guide construction and development along the Columbia, Palouse and Snake rivers as well as 18 lakes within the county. It combines local plans for future development and preservation with new ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Franklin County adopted its shoreline plan on Jan. 20. Once approved by Ecology, the county’s shoreline program will become part of the overall state shoreline master program.

The locally-tailored shoreline program is designed to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses and protect people’s access to public land and waters.

Comments will be accepted through June 6, 2016, and should be addressed to Zach Meyer, Department of Ecology, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program, 1250 W. Alder St., Union Gap, WA 98903, or by email to

The documents are available for review at Ecology’s Central Regional Office, 1250 W. Alder St., Union Gap or Franklin County Planning and Building Dept., 1016 N. 4th Ave., in Pasco or online at

After taking public comments into consideration, Ecology may approve Franklin County’s proposed shoreline program as written, reject it, or identify specific modifications to meet the Shoreline Management Act and applicable state regulations.


ARC-PLC payments, enrollment underway

Agricultural producers who chose to participate in the new safety net programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage or the Price Loss Coverage programs, you can now sign contracts to enroll in coverage for 2016. The enrollment period will continue until Aug. 1, 2016.

Although the choice between ARC and PLC is completed and remains in effect through 2018, you must still enroll your farm into a contract each year to receive ARC/PLC coverage.

There is no longer any direct payments issued each year as the calculation of final benefits for ARC/PLC is not known until after the marketing year of all base crops has passed, so for 2016 crop year, benefits will not be known until at least October of 2017. Having said that, neglecting to enroll this year could be costly, said Bruce Clatterbuck, Franklin County Farm Service Agency executive director.

Clatterbuck said considering current projected yields and prices for 2015 covered commodities, there is a potential for payments on Franklin County program base crops for 2015. Therefore it is extremely important to enroll in the annual ARC/PLC contract now to protect yourself against potential 2016 year benefits loss.

Call the office to schedule an appointment to enroll in 2016 ARCPLC. If a farm is not enrolled during the 2016 enrollment period, all eligible owners and operators on that farm will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs should crop prices or farm revenues remain/fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program.

We are also currently accepting any farm record change requests for fiscal year 2016 until August 1, 2016.  Go to for more information about the ARC/PLC program and for related rate and yield information.


Free cancer screening

The Tri-Cities Cancer Center and Kadlec Clinic have partnered to offer a free skin cancer screen from 9 a.m. to noon May 21 at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center at 7350 W. Deschutes Ave., Kennewick.

Vicki Haines, DCNP and Christy Masterman, DCNP, both of Kadlec Clinic, will provide spot checks to help keep you health. Appointments are required. Call 509-737-3420 to schedule an appointment. For more information, go to


Summer Solstice celebration

The Washington State University Master Gardeners of Benton & Franklin Counties invites the public to a Summer Solstice in the Demo Garden event from 3 to 7 p.m. June 18 at the demonstration gardens behind the Kennewick library at 1620 W. Union St. in Kennewick.

The Secret Garden is a fun, family-oriented celebration that features gardening lectures and classes for adults, special events for children, entertainment and artist vendors.

Master Gardeners, beekeepers and Franklin County Weed Control representatives will be available to answer questions. The Academy of Children’s Theater and Mid-Columbia Libraries will provide entertainment for the event, which will end with a movie.

The event is free. For more information, call 509-783-8898.


REF plans golf tournament

The Richland Education Foundation will have its 22nd Annual Scholar Scramble at 1 p.m. June 17 at Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland.

The money raised at the event is used to support REF’s scholarships and grants.

The REF is a nonprofit that provides scholarships and educational grants to the students and staff of the Richland School District. Since 1994, the Foundation has donated more than $237,250 in educational grants, college and technical scholarships. REF is supported completely by volunteers and more than 95 percent of the money raised by the group is donated to the teachers and students of the Richland School District.


CRF recalls frozen vegetables

CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington is voluntarily recalling 15 frozen vegetable items may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.  Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

No illnesses have been reported to date, but the company is recalling the products as a precaution. The Listeria was discovered through routine testing by state health officials in Ohio. Listeria monocytogenes was found to be present in one lot of Individually Quick Frozen organic petite green peas and one lot of IQF organic white sweet cut corn.

Recalled items were sold in plastic bags and are marked with Use By Dates located on the back of the package.

Retailers and distribution centers received the recalled frozen vegetables between Sept. 13, 2015 and Mar. 16. All retailers who received the products have been contacted.

All affected products have ‘best by dates’ or ‘sell by dates’ of April 26, 2016 to April 26, 2018.

The recall includes all of the frozen organic and traditional vegetable products manufactured or process by CRF Frozen Foods’ Pasco facility since May 1, 2014.

These include approximately 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands.

Consumers are urged not to consume the products. Those who bought products may take them back to the store where they were purchased for a refund or discard them.

Consumers seeking more information, may call 844-551-5595 during regular business hours.

CRF suspended its operations at the Pasco facility following the initial voluntary recall to conduct a thorough review.

For a complete list of the brands and items affected by the recall, go to


Volunteers sought

Meals on Wheels is seeking kitchen volunteers to help prepare lunch meals on weekdays for seniors in Richland and Kennewick. The volunteers would be need from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on one or two days per week. Those who would like to help or that would like more information, should call 509-735-1911 or email


Taste Ignite planned

Ignite Youth Mentoring, a local nonprofit that serves the needs of at-risk youth in the Mid-Columbia by matching them with caring mentors is planning a food-and-wine pairing event.

Taste Ignite will be from 5 – 7 p.m. June 2 at the Fidelitas Red Mountain Tasting Room, 51810 N. Sunset Road in Benton City.

Participants will meet winemaker Charlie Hoppes and enjoy specialty wines from Fidelitas, with appetizers by Castle Event Catering and dessert from Ethos Bakery.

The cost is $50 per person in advance or $60 at the door. All proceeds benefit Ignite Youth Mentoring. Space is limited. Tickets are available at For more information, email


Ste. Michelle Wine Estates acquires Sonoma’s Patz & Hall

Patz & Hall, one of California’s most highly regarded producers of single-vineyard chardonnay and pinot noir, has been acquired by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

The sale includes the inventory of acclaimed wines and interests in the winemaking facility and in the Sonoma House, Patz & Hall’s beautiful visitors’ center in Sonoma.  Patz & Hall’s grapes will continue to be sourced from some of the most renowned Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Carneros and the Sonoma Coast, including legendary winegrowing sites like the Hyde Vineyard, Hudson Vineyard, Dutton Ranch, Chenoweth Ranch, Gap’s Crown Vineyard and Alder Springs Vineyard.

All four of the founding partners – Donald Patz (national sales director), James Hall (winemaker), Anne Moses (California sales director) and Heather Patz (VIP brand ambassador) – will remain with the winery to provide expertise and ensure continuity with the winery’s operations.

Patz & Hall’s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs consistently earn 90+ ratings from leading wine publications.

Patz & Hall was not entertaining acquisition offers at the time Ste. Michelle expressed an interest in adding the winery to its string of pearls, but its four partners were intrigued by Ste. Michelle’s strong reputation.

Patz & Hall produces a collection of appellation and single-vineyard designated wines each vintage, including several vineyard-designate wines that are released exclusively to members of its Salon Society wine club.

Zepponi & Company served as the exclusive financial advisor to Patz & Hall Wine Company and brokered the sale.  The terms of the sale were not disclosed.


Trios presents senior nutrition expert at Senior Life Show

Pre-registration is open for a free hosted luncheon at the Eighth Annual Three Rivers Senior Life Show June 9 at the Three Rivers Convention Center.

The event will feature a keynote address, ‘An Apple a Day for Healthy Aging,’ by registered dietitian Heather Garza, of Stanford Health in San Francisco, Calif.

Garza consults for a range of start-up companies, senior nutrition programs and clients of advanced age and their caregivers. Her talk will focus on the nutritional needs of senior adults.

The luncheon is limited to the first 250 people registered.

To register, go to or call 509-221-5390.

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Shred Day

April 14 @ 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Spring Career and Internship Fair in Pasco

April 25 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Head & Neck 5K/2-Mile Walk in Richland

April 15 @ 9:00 am