Business Briefs — June 2016
Cancer Center clears clutter
The Tri-Cities Cancer Center at 7350 W. Deschutes Ave. will have its Cancer Crushing Clutter Clearance from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 18.
The Cancer Center is clearing out 15,000 sq. ft. in its basement and selling plenty of usable items, from toilets to desks, furniture for the home and office, décor, janitorial supplies, Christmas decorations and more. All proceeds benefit the TCCC Exceptional Past, Extraordinary Future Building Fund. Construction materials will be available at bargain prices. If you would like to donate to the sale, contact the Foundation at 509-737-3414.
Surge in rental home scams
Rental scams might be a common trick these days, but unfortunately, it is still common for house hunters to fall for it. The Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest has noticed an uptick in rental scams being reported through its BBB Scam Tracker.
Since being launched in 2015, Scam Tracker has received about two dozen complaints concerning rental scams in the Northwest. About half of those have occurred in the last six months.
Recently, a Wenatchee man reported someone trying to rent out his house without him knowing. He told BBB officials he’s had several people show up ready to move in, despite the home not being for sale or rent.
Rental home scammers generally prey on victims who do not live in the area, in hopes of taking their cash before they realize the home is not available.
To avoid being a victim of these scams, use the following tips when hunting for a rental property.
- Ask for a walk through. If you are renting locally, ask to see the property in person. If you don’t live in the city, reach out to someone you trust who does and ask them to visit the place for you. If the property ‘owners’ make excuses for being unable to show the property, it’s likely a scam.
- Research the location. Search the listing online to see if it is being advertised elsewhere. Often scammers steal pictures and try to pass off properties as their own. This is why seeing a property in person is so important.
- Pay with a credit card. Never pay a security deposit or first month’s rent with cash, a gift card or by wire transfer. Once you send it, you have no way to get it back if it is a scam.
- Be skeptical of low prices. Scammers usually lure in targets by promising low rents, great amenities and other perks. If the price seems better than comparable properties, it may be a scam.
Those who have been a victim to these are other scams should report their experiences to the Better Business Bureau at 509-455-4200 or at bbb.org.
Young Professionals applications sought
The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business is looking for rising stars to highlight in its annual Mid-Columbia Young Professionals edition, to be published in October. Nominees must be 40 years of age or younger on the nomination deadline, Aug. 31, and work in Benton or Franklin counties. Nominees do not have to be business owners. They can be professionals who have distinguished themselves within their career, company or industry, whether they are doctors, lawyers, scientists, dental assistants, inventors, winemakers, chefs, real estate professionals, etc. The Journal of Business is seeking young professionals who also distinguish themselves outside of their careers, through charity work, leadership and community involvement. Previous winners are not eligible to compete. Young professionals can nominate themselves or may be nominated by business associates, customers, family or colleagues. A judging committee will choose the top candidates, who will be featured in the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business’ October edition. Nomination deadline is Aug. 31. Applications and instructions are available at www.tcjournal.biz.
Lourdes offers veterans care
Lourdes has announced a partnership to provide care to veterans outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), through the Veterans Choice Program (VCP.) Qualified U.S. veterans who face wait times in excess of 30 days at the VA or have to travel more than 40 miles from their home can receive care from Lourdes Health doctors. The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 established funding to pay for healthcare services provided to veterans by private healthcare providers. Through the partnership, Lourdes physicians and other caregivers are authorized to provide primary care, inpatient and outpatient specialty care, and mental health care for eligible veterans outside of VA. Veterans can determine eligibility for the VCP at www.va.gov/opa/choiceact or by calling (866) 606-8198. For more information about Lourdes’ involement with VCP, visit www.acension.org/veterans.
Chamber to award $30,000 in grants
The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) have again partnered to offer grants to local businesses through their Small Business Incentive program. Winners will be awarded up to $2,000 each for items and services to grow their companies. Previous grants have helped local companies purchase signage, computers, software, training, website design and more. The program was launched in 2011 and since its start, has awarded 214 grants totaling $150,000. For an application and full details including eligibility, visit www.tricityregionalchamber.com or call 509-736-0510.
Junior Achievement boosts record year
More than 12,000 local students were empowered this past school year thanks to Junior Achievement (JA) teachers, volunteers and donors. Mission Support Alliance and Columbia Center Rotary made it possible for 400 students to visit JA World in Yakima to experience real-life adult simulations including being assigned jobs, living within monthly salaries and budgeting. Grants from Bechtel Group Foundation and ConAgra Foods Foundation helped out at the K-12 and middle school levels, respectively. For more information visit www.jawashingtonsewa.org.
Department of Ecology hosts comment period
The Washington State Department of Ecology is holding a 45-day comment period for modifications to the Hanford Facility Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Permit, Dangerous Waste Portion July 11-Aug. 25. To review the proposed modifications beginning July 11, visit the Washington State Department of Ecology Nuclear Waste Program Public Comment Periods webpage, or view at one of Hanford Public Information Repositories. For a list of those locations or more information, contact Rochelle Twomey at email@example.com.
New City of Pasco playground dedicated
The City of Pasco opened a new playground structure at the park on Road 60 and Three Rivers Drive in early June. Park impact fees that are assessed on new development in the city paid for the new $140,000 structure. The park, tentatively named Mariposa Park, pending city council action, is a partnership between the City of Pasco and the Pasco School District. For more information visit www.pasco-wa.gov.
Retired teachers able to substitute
Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) Plans 2 and 3 teachers who retired using the 2008 Early Retirement Factors will be able to return to work as substitute K-12 teachers for up to 867 hours per calendar year without having their benefits suspended under a new law, SB6455. The change took effect June 10, 2016 and runs through July 31, 2020. Retired workers must reenter employment after June 10, 2016, and must wait 30 consecutive days after their retirement date before returning to work as a retiree. For more information, visit www.drs.wa.gov/publications/member/multisystem/multi2-3war.pdf.
Kennewick has highest minimum wage in country
According to SmartAsset, a financial technology company, Kennewick has the highest real minimum wage in the country. The study took minimum wage data and compared it to the cost of living for each city to get the city’s adjusted minimum wage.
In Washington State, four cities made the top 10 list. This is due to the state‘s minimum wage of $9.47 combined with the reasonable cost of living in the cities. The number one city on the list was Kennewick, with an adjusted cost of living minimum wage of $9.97. Spokane was third at $9.92, followed by Tacoma in sixth at $9.86. Yakima came in seventh with $9.85. Other cities that ranked in the top ten were Kalamazoo, Mich.; Lincoln, Neb.; Omaha, Neb.; Pueblo, Colo.; Buffalo, N.Y. and Bakersfield, Calif.
For more information about the ranking visit smartasset.com/blog.
Hanford site tour added dates
The Hanford site cleanup tour has added 10 additional dates. Seats are on a first-come, first-served basis through online registration. The tour focuses on environmental clean-up and gives an in-depth look at several key projects that support the clean-up effort. Stops include the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant and the Waste Treatment Plant. Dates added to the tour are Aug. 2, 3, 10, 16, 17, 24, 30 and 31 and Sept. 7 and 8.
To register visit www.hanford.gov/c.cfm/publictours.
Energy Northwest pays tax
Energy Northwest paid more than $4.4 million in privilege taxes to the State of Washington May 31. The annual tax is levied on public power electricity producers for the privilege of generating electricity in the state. The amount of the tax is tied to the amount of electricity produced. Columbia Generating Station, the third largest generator of electricity in the state, produced more than 8.1 million megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity in 2015, a refueling and maintenance outage year. Energy Northwest also produces electricity at Nine Canyon Wind Project, Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project and White Bluffs Solar Station. Generation at these four facilities totaled more than 8.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity during calendar year 2015. Columbia Generating Station produces more than 96 percent of the total power generated by Energy Northwest, which is provided at the cost of production to the Bonneville Power Administration for resale to customers in six western states. The only nuclear energy facility in the Northwest, Columbia generates enough electricity to power more than one million homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
March of Dimes raises $120K
Hundreds of Mid-Columbians joined together in support of babies at March of Dimes’ March for Babies event in mid-May. Premature birth affects nearly half a million babies in the United States today. Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have disabilities. The March of Dimes is committed to reducing this toll by funding research, providing awareness and education, and hosting community events to see that all babies are born healthy. For more information, visit www.marchofdimes.org/washington.
KID water supply projected
In early June, the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) provided Yakima Basin irrigators with an updated water supply forecast. The pro-ratable irrigators, including Kennewick Irrigation District, are expected to have 86 percent of their total water allotment. At press time, KID did not anticipate implementing a watering schedule but asked that customers consider taking steps to retrain their lawns and implement water efficient methods. The USBR will announce updated numbers in early July, and KID is prepared to implement scheduling if necessary. For information on water efficiency and determining soil type, visit bentoncd.org or extension.wsu.edu.
MCL hosts reading contest
Mid-Columbia Libraries’ (MCL) annual Summer Reading Challenge runs through Aug. 19. Participants of all ages can partake to be eligible for one of five grand prize packages. Children who take part will win a free book, and adult participants will win a book bag. Visit the MCL events calendar to learn about more Reading Challenge activities including Badger Mountain hikes, sports and fitness clinics, author presentations, and a visit from the Seattle Seahawks mascot. For more information, visit www.midcolumbialibraries.org or call 509-586-3156.
PTAC boasts record contract year
The Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) helped businesses clinch 3,200 government contracts totaling more than $592 million last year, and Tri-Cities PTAC clients won 123 of those contracts, totaling more than $80 million. PTAC counselors in eight locations around the state work with companies one-on-one or through no-cost assistance workshops on all aspects of doing business with the government. The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce PTAC location, staffed by Government Contracting Specialist Ashley Coronado, acquired 70 new clients last year, held 350 individual counseling sessions, and hosted quarterly Meet the Buyer programs and regular training workshops. Visit www.tricityregionalchamber.com or call 509-736-0510 for more details.
Washington add jobs
From March 2016 to April 2016 Washington added 11,200 new jobs, while the state’s unemployment remained at 5.8 percent for the fourth month in a row. The construction and financial activities sectors saw the most job loss during the period, while the professional and business services sector added 3,300 new jobs. More than 100,000 new jobs have were April 2015 to April 2016 in 11 of 13 sectors, but mining and logging saw a loss of 300 jobs, and the manufacturing sector lost 2,600 jobs during that one-year period. Visit www.esd.wa.gov for more information.
Legends donates to nonprofits
Each summer, Legends Casino distributes grants to nonprofits in the region through its Yakama Cares program. June 1, it awarded $432,027 to nearly 200 organizations, including a total of $34,200 to Mid-Columbia nonprofits: Prevent Homeless Pets, Edith Bishel Center for the Blind, Grace Clinic, SARC, Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation, Royal Family Kids Camp, Second Harvest, Toys for Tots, Prosser Senior Citizens Club, Prosser Youth Baseball, Early Childhood Learning Center, Pet Over Population Prevention, Tri-Cities YMCA and Royal City Food Band. Non-profit organizations submit applications annually between Jan. 1 and March 31. The committee bases its selection of winners on areas of need in the communities Legends Casino serves.
Campus to become tobacco free
Washington State University Tri-Cities and WSU Pullman join the other WSU campuses and more than 900 universities nationwide when they become tobacco free beginning Aug. 22. Under the new policy, all forms of tobacco, including smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping will be prohibited on campus property. This includes buildings, parking lots, leased property, grassy areas and open space. For more information visit tricities.wsu.edu/ehs/tobaccofreecampus.
KID helps homeowners avoid foreclosure
The Kennewick Irrigation District, through its Helping Hands program, has distributed more than $18,000 this year to help 68 families avoid foreclosure due to an inability to pay irrigation assessments. The program is funded by 30 percent of penalty charges for late payments collected by KID and donations of customers. Per federal agreement, KID must collect annual irrigation assessment on all property within defined boundaries of the KID. Tax-deductible donations to the Helping Hands program can be made at KID or by using the donation option provided on customer payment coupons. For more information call 509-586-9111.
Tax scam targeting Tri-Cities residents
The Washington Department of Revenue is warning individuals and businesses about calls demanding immediate payment for back taxes and penalties. Those targeted say their caller ID displayed the Department of Revenue’s Richland office number. Revenue staff is advising the public they do not demand payment over the phone.
If a suspicious call is received, hang up immediately and call the office at 509-987-1201. Report suspicious calls by calling the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040.
Cancer Center hosts golf tournament
The Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation’s Hapo Golf Classic is Friday, Aug. 19 at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., shotgun start at 1 p.m., and dinner and awards ceremony begins at 5 p.m. Call 509-737-3413 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the tournament, or learn about sponsorship opportunities.
Waste collection event set for June 18
Benton County residents can drop off unwanted household hazardous waste Saturday, June 18 at the Benton Franklin Fair Grounds from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or until their holding capacity is met. Hazardous material includes paints, solvents, cleaners, automotive fluids, pesticides, fertilizers, batteries, propane tanks, and pool or hot tub chemicals. Items not accepted include electronics, fluorescent light bulbs, tires, appliances, explosives, radioactive materials, asbestos, biohazards and trash. Proof of Benton County residency is required. For more information contact Benton County Solid Waste, 509-736-3084 x5682.