Business Briefs — September 2016

Gubernatorial debate to be held at CBC

Hear what the state’s gubernatorial candidates have to say during an October debate in Pasco.

Incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee will face Republican challenger Bill Bryant at 8 p.m. Oct. 19 at Columbia Basin College.

It will be one of two public gubernatorial debates organized by the Washington State Debate Coalition, founded by Seattle CityClub to enhance citizens’ access to informative, nonpartisan political debates.

The second debate is in Seattle. The coalition also scheduled two Senate debates elsewhere.

Debate hosts include CBC, Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Tri-City Development Council, Tri-City Herald, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visit Tri-Cities.

Visit for more information.


Benton County seeks comments on 20-year plan

The Benton County Planning Department will hold two public open houses to share information about the update to the county’s Comprehensive Plan and invite the residents to share their thoughts on future growth in Benton County.

The Comprehensive Plan establishes policies for growth and development as well as guiding county decisions in several areas such as land use, economic development, roads and housing.

The first open house is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept 19 at the Benton PUD Auditorium, 2721 W. 10th Ave., Kennewick.

The second open house is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Prosser Planning Annex, 1002 Dudley Ave.

Those interested in sharing their vision with the county can also take a two-minute survey at

Information gathered from the open houses and via the survey will be used to help develop the county’s 20-year goals and objectives for the Comprehensive Plan.

Anyone who wishes to stay informed about the Comprehensive Plan should send their contact information to or call 509-786-5612.


Energy Northwest receives clean energy grant

Energy Northwest will receive up to $4 million in state funding for a first-of-its-kind solar power generating and battery storage system that will also include a technician training center, The Horn Rapids Solar Storage and Training Center, in north Richland.

Gov. Inslee recently announced $12.6 million in Clean Energy Fund grants to five utilities in Washington.

The utilities and their partners will match the state funding at a minimum ratio of 1:1.

The Richland training center will be located at the regional educational training center owned by the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers and comprise a four-megawatt, direct-current solar generating array across 20 acres, a one-megawatt battery storage system and an IBEW technician training center.

The project will be developed and operated by the Energy Services and Development division of Energy Northwest.

First Solar of Tempe, Arizona, manufacturer of photovoltaic modules designed for large scale, grid-connected and off-grid solar power plants, has offered to donate half the panels needed.

The city of Richland has expressed interest in receiving the power, and both Richland and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will utilize the project for clean energy-related research.

Commercial operation could begin by late 2017.


Oil rule requires contingency plan

The Washington Department of Ecology adopted a rule in late August requiring contingency planning by railroads transporting oil through the state.

Beginning Oct. 1, railroads moving oil through the state must show the ability to immediately respond to an oil spill if one occurs.

Each plan will be reviewed, tested through drills and approved by the Department of Ecology. Until now, only pipelines and vessels moving oil through the state were required to share contingency plans.

Visit for more information.


Benton County accepting anti-crime proposals

Benton County is requesting proposals for funding for programs that enhance the quality of life for residents by reducing the incidence of gang-related and other crime.

The public safety tax, a three-tenths of 1 percent sales and use tax approved by Benton County voters in 2014, will fund the selected crime prevention projects.

Applicants must be nonprofit organizations, and proposed projects must be physically located in or occur entirely in county, with the primary intent of serving Benton County residents.

Applications are due Sept. 30.


City of Richland seeks committee members

The Richland City Council is accepting applications from citizens interested in serving on its Personnel and Americans with Disabilities Citizens Review committees.

Terms of appointments are for three years.

Call 509-942-7388 or visit for more information.


Ag wage and practice survey underway

The state Employment Security Department’s annual Agricultural Wage and Practice Survey, covering jobs and activities for which employers have requested H-2A workers, began Sept. 1.

The H-2A program allows agricultural employers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to fill temporary positions when there are not enough qualified U.S. workers available. The University of Washington is conducting the survey, reaching out to a sample of 3,000 agricultural workers in Washington.

The U.S. Department of Labor will use the results to establish prevailing wage rates and employment standards required in agricultural employment contracts, including H-2A guest worker contracts.

The state will also conduct an agricultural wage practice survey for workers. UW will also conduct this survey, reaching out to about 8,000 workers in both English and Spanish. Researchers will then compare results from the worker survey to employer responses.


Chaplaincy’s Lighting the Path set for Nov. 9

Chaplaincy Health Care’s annual Lighting the Path benefit breakfast is from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Nov. 9 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

Chaplaincy Health Care offers hospice, palliative and grief care, as well as behavioral health support. Donations will be accepted during the program.

To reserve a 10-person table, call 509-783-7416 or email


Barn Burner set for Middleton Farms Oct. 1

The Pasco Chamber of Commerce’s annual Barn Burner fundraiser is Oct. 1 at Middleton Six Sons Farms, 1050 Pasco-Kahlotus Road in Pasco.

Middleton Six Sons Farms will be hosting its harvest festival starting at 10 a.m. The barn burner will begin at 3 p.m.

Sponsorships and tickets are available by calling 509-547-9755 or at


Prosser’s Clore Center partners with Ethos

The Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center now features fare from Ethos Bakery and Trattoria daily.

Offerings include a snack plate, formaggi, antipasti and seasonal flatbread, with an extended menu Thursday through Saturday.

The Clore Center tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features a rotating selection of wines from across the state.

The Ethos menu is available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visit for more information.


The Reach museum adds educational program

The Reach has started a new educational program for preschoolers, Reach Little Explorers, held at 10 a.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

The program is designed to show young children the Tri-Cities’ history and the region’s ecosystems. On Sept. 28, attendees and their parents will meet some of the fish in the river and figure out why they have different shapes and features, and learn about fish habitats.

Admission is $8 per family, including up to four people, $2 per additional child.

Call 509-948-0705 or email for more information.


State fines Regence, Asuris $750,000

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler fined Regence BlueShield and Asuris Northwest Health $750,000 for violations of insurance regulations that created issues with consumers’ access to services between January 2010 and June 2011.

A multi-year examination of the companies’ practices and records found a number of issues, including the misplacement of records, delayed payments to providers and an inability to track the number and amount of payments made to providers.

The companies worked with the commissioner’s office to resolve the issues found during the audit process and agreed to pay the fine in full by Sept. 26.

The money will be sent to the state’s general fund.

Since 2001, Kreidler’s office has assessed $20.4 million in fines against insurance companies and professionals found in violation of applicable laws.


Second Harvest to hold culinary fundraiser

The 11th annual Taking a Bite Out of Hunger fundraiser for Second Harvest, is from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 12 at the organization’s distribution center, 5812 Burlington Loop in Pasco.

The 21-and-over-only event features more than 30 restaurants, vintners and brewers. Guests can bid on auction items including sporting events, dining, jewelry, décor and getaway packages to raise money to help feed people in need.

Call 509-545-0787 or email for tickets or table sponsorship information.


Boeing official to speak at regional chamber meeting

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce’s September membership luncheon, “Aerospace Works for Washington: Opportunities and Challenges Ahead,” is at noon Sept. 28 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

Bill McSherry, vice president of government operations and global corporate citizenship for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, will talk about the effect of the aerospace industry on the region and state.

Cost to attend the luncheon is $22 for chamber members and $32 for others. Reservations are required and the deadline to register is Sept. 23.

To register, contact Jillian Marquez, project coordinator, at 509-491-3234 or


Richland accepting grant applications

The city of Richland is accepting grant applications for money it receives from a lodging tax.

The money can be used for tourism marketing, operations and marketing of specific events designed to attract tourists, as well as operations and capital expenditures of tourism-related facilities.

Applications are available at and are due by Sept. 30.

Call 509-942-7346 or email for more information.


DOE, Battelle contract extended five years

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the extension of its management and operation contract with Battelle Memorial Institute, the current operator of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, for another five years.

The new contract takes effect Oct. 1, 2017.

Changes to the contract will not affect Battelle’s fee potential, which will remain at about $12.5 million, but will place emphasis on establishing and strengthening partnerships with local and regional universities, including Washington State University.

Other changes include commitments to diversification in leadership, staff and researchers, and community involvement.


38th annual Wine Festival set for Nov. 12

The Tri-Cities Wine Society and Three Rivers Convention Center’s Tri-Cities Wine Festival 2016 is at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Three Rivers Convention Center.

The event will feature wine tasting, silent auction, hors d’oeuvres and a judged wine competition. A selection of craft beers will also be available.

Tickets are $60 in advance and available at and the Toyota Center box office. Cost is $65 at the door.


City of Kennewick offers Firestopping class

The city of Kennewick’s Building Department will host a HILTI Firestopping class to benefit design professionals, building departments, building contractors and subcontractors from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Oct. 5.

Topics include what information to include in building plans, engineering judgments, inspection techniques and through-wall and membrane penetrations.

RSVP to Winston McCulley at 509-585-4547.


Reach Foundation memberships on sale

To supplement admissions and government funding, the Reach Museum Foundation is offering individual and corporate memberships, which start at $1,000.

Memberships include two one-year membership cards that allow unlimited admission for up to eight people, corporate transferable cards for a one-year family membership and free admission tickets.

Contact Doug Hamrick, Reach Foundation development chair, at 509-378-4603 or for more information.


Badger Club to host presidential debate

Columbia Basin Badger Club will host a “Who Will Make the Best President?” debate at its luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 29 at the Richland Shilo Inn.

Deadline to RSVP or cancel is Sept. 26. Cost is $20 for members or $25 for non-members in advance, or $30 the day of the event.

RSVP to 509-628-6011 or


Trios Health marathon set for Oct. 30

The 36th annual Trios Health Tri-Cities Marathon and Relay is set for Oct. 30.

The race event will feature a rivers and wine theme and include a $25 fundraising tasting passport, which supports the 3 Rivers Road Runners and the Tri-Cities Marathon.

Each passport will provide a variety of tastings, food and discounts for one legal-aged adult at nine local wineries on race weekend, Oct. 28-30.

The race events include a full marathon and three relay formats on a flat, fast course that starts at the Shilo Inn in Richland. The event is a Boston Marathon qualifier.

Finishers will receive a wine stopper finisher’s medal and tech shirt.

Visit for more information, including volunteer details.


Hispanic chamber holds membership lunch

The Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s September general membership lunch meeting is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco.

Kyle Cox, executive director of Mid-Columbia Libraries, will provide the keynote presentation, “Branding is Fundamental.”

Call 509-542-0933 or visit to register.


State warns of tax software phishing scam

The Washington Department of Revenue is warning tax preparers whose clients include individual and business taxpayers of an email scam that pretends to be from tax software providers and tries to trick recipients into clicking a bogus link to download and install an ‘important’ software update.

Rather than an update, tax professionals would have loaded a program designed to track their keystrokes, a common tactic used by cyber thieves to steal sensitive data, including login information and passwords.


Richland’s tree-wrap art project underway

The city of Richland’s Sweater Weather community fiber art project is underway.

This year, the yarn-inspired tree wrap project will be displayed in and around the grounds of the Richland Public Library.

Individuals or groups, even those who do not know how to knit or crochet, can adopt a tree and learn.

Independent knitting study group, By the Book Knitters Club, meets the third Tuesday of every month at the library and welcomes beginners.

The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 in conference rooms A and B.

Call 509-942-7677 or 509-942-7408, or visit for more information.


Senior Times Expo set for Oct. 18

The Senior Times Expo is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Pasco Red Lion.

Guests can visit more than 50 exhibitors, who will showcase their products and services geared toward active and retired seniors, their families and caregivers.

Vendors will offer information about regional activities, health care, investments, retirement, senior living facilities and more.

The free expo, which takes place twice a year, includes a treasure hunt for a variety of prizes, including tickets.

Call Mike Haugen at 509-737-8778 ext. 2 for information about exhibiting or the expo.


School year work rules for teens in place

Employers have a Sept. 30 deadline to renew and have on file permission forms from parents and schools for teens to work during the school year.

The form must include start and quit times and job duties, and be signed by the employer, teen, parent and school authority.

Also, employers should keep a copy of the teen worker’s proof of age, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate.

Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may work three hours per day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for no more than 16 hours, six days a week. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may work four hours per day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. for no more than 20 hours, six days a week.

Students can’t work until after school hours during the school week. Teenagers ages 16-17 may work up to 28 hours per week, with six-hour shifts during the school week if they have special permission from their schools and parents.

Employers must have a minor work permit endorsement on their business license, available through the state business licensing service, to legally hire teens.

For more information, call 800-219-7321 or email


Dinner raises money for scholarship fund

Scholarships for college or trade education are available in the Tri-Cities, thanks to the Tre-Citta (Tri-Cities) chapter of the Order Sons of Italy in America.

High school seniors, or those currently enrolled in college who are of Italian descent may apply.

An Italian pasta dinner will be served from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 1. The menu features penne pasta, marinara or meat gravy, salad, bread, spumoni, ice cream, sodas, coffee, water and other drinks.  Tickets are $12, with children under 5 free. Wine and beer will be available for a separate price. Call 509-371-9114 or 509-547-6881 for tickets.


Reach Museum wraps up tour season

The Reach Museum is holding two events to wrap up its tour season:

  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 23, Southern Cheney Palouse Scablands and Palouse Falls, cost $87. Tour numerous Ice Age flood features, including Palouse Falls. Includes lunch. Confirm by Sept. 19.
  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1, Snake River-Palouse Falls Bus Tour and Hike, cost $78. Join geologist-author Bruce Bjornstad on a bus tour to Palouse Falls. On the return trip there will be an optional two-mile round-trip hike along the level Columbia Plateau Trail. Confirm by Sept. 26.

Call 509-948-0705 or email for more information or to register.


Global orthopedic conference convenes in Richland

More than 150 orthopedic surgeons from around the world will meet in Richland to learn life-changing surgical techniques, share experiences and interact with U.S. surgeons.

The SIGN Fracture Care International Orthopedic Conference, “Treating Difficult Fractures,” is from Sept 21-24 at SIGN’s headquarters in Richland.

SIGN educates and equips orthopedic surgeons in the developing world, enabling them to perform necessary surgeries to heal broken bones in under-resourced hospitals.

The conference is a unique educational experience. Most of the presentations are delivered by SIGN surgeons from developing countries. These discussions result in innovations and promote communication between surgeons. Patients involved in traumatic accidents benefit from these conferences by receiving optimum treatment using SIGN Implants and the knowledge gained from these conferences.

Surgeons from many of the 50 countries where SIGN works will be available for interviews to describe the orthopedic work they do because of the support given to them by SIGN.

Tri-City Baskin-Robbins looking for new owners

Three Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores are for sale in the Tri-Cities and the corporate office is interested in telling potential entrepreneurs why they should buy, own and operate existing franchises.

Register for a free webinar hosted by Business Development Manager Brett Freilinger to discuss the stores for sale. The seminars are at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 and 27.

Register online at

Financial requirements for buying the franchise are having $125,000 in liquid assets and $250,000 net worth.

Thirty Baskin-Robbins stores are for sale throughout Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington, including two in Richland and one in Kennewick.


Pasco seeking volunteers for council vacancy

The Pasco City Council is seeking registered voters in District 4 to apply for a council seat left vacant after Councilman Mike Garrison died in July.

The council intends to fill the vacancy by appointment of a resident and registered voter of council District 4 as soon as practical, but no later than Oct. 24.

The seat’s current term expires Dec. 31, 2017.

Any adult resident of District 4 may seek appointment by filing a completed application, available online or at the city manager’s office by 5 p.m. Sept. 30.

Following the application deadline, the council will determine how many applicants to interview.  Interviews will be conducted during a public meeting.

The application is online at or available by calling 509-545-3404.

A mailer with this information will be sent to District 4 registered voters.


Mastersingers to perform at B Reactor

The Mid-Columbia Mastersingers will perform concerts inside the B Reactor National Historic Landmark.

The concerts are part of this year’s celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Mastersingers and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The performances — the first ever of their kind to be held in a decommissioned nuclear reactor — are Sept. 30 and Oct. 2.

The Mastersingers are presenting a balanced program that explores the history of B Reactor and the Hanford site, reflecting on themes of war, peace and scientific achievement.

The music is by American composers including Reginald Unterseher, Karen Thomas, Eric Whitacre, Joseph Gregorio and Samuel Barber. Artistic Director Justin Raffa will lead the chamber ensemble of 24 singers, and additional performers will include a string quintet, soprano soloist Molly Holleran, and former Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken.

A limited number of tickets are available. A portion of the ticket price will be donated to support the Hanford Unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

The September concert is limited to guests 21 and older because it includes alcohol service. Photo ID will be required at check-in before boarding buses, which will leave the Federal Building parking lot at 5:30 p.m. Cost is $125 and includes two drink tickets for beer/wine and dinner catered by Ethos Trattoria.

The October afternoon concert is open to all ages. The concert is not recommended for young children. Bus departure time is 1:30 p.m. Cost is $75 and includes light refreshments catered by Ethos Trattoria.

Tickets and information are available at or by calling 509-460-1766.


AARP offering free financial class

AARP is offering a free class called “Money Smarts” from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 26 at the Three Rivers Convention Center, 7016 W. Grandridge Blvd., Kennewick.

Learn ways to take control of your financial future, such as how to spend less, invest for your future and outwit the latest scams and schemes.

The event is free, but space is limited and registration is required. Breakfast is included. For more information and to register, call 888-687-2277 or email


Policy center holding annual dinner

More than 1,200 people are expected to attend Washington Policy Center’s annual Eastern Washington dinner  at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane.

Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer-prize winning columnist, will provide the keynote. Gen. James N. Mattis will be recognized with the Champion of Freedom award.

Visit for more information.

$51 million grant to pay for Kennewick school improvements

The Kennewick School District will use a $51.1 million state grant to help build the district’s 16th elementary, add 20 classrooms to Amistad Elementary School and construct a new building for the district’s dual-language program at the site of the old Desert Hills Middle School.

The projects will be completed over the next three years and are aimed at reducing classroom sizes in kindergarten through third grade. Elementary students in all areas of the district will benefit from the grant funding.

“All of the approved projects are designed to reduce class sizes in grades K through 3,” said district Superintendent Dave Bond. “We strategically selected projects that will free up class space and reduce overcrowding in our existing schools in east, central and west Kennewick.”

The district qualified for the grant money based on a number of weighted factors, including the number of needed classrooms, current student-teacher ratio, percent of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, and when the district most recently passed a bond.


Heritage Days to be celebrated Sept. 23-24

The annual Heritage Days historical event at Sacajawea State Park in Pasco is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 24.

Guests can experience living history by walking through the site where Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery camped more than 200 years ago, and learn about the site from the time of the Ice Age floods to when the Daughters of the Pioneers started the park in 1927. Those arriving by car will need a Discover Pass to enter the park. A yearly pass is $30 or a one-time use pass is $10 and can be purchased on site.

Visit for more information.


Tool to increase transparency of state tax incentives

The public and policymakers have a new tool at their fingertips to learn more about the value of many state tax incentives.

The state State Department of Revenue’s interactive software shares data about certain tax preferences, including those for the aerospace, renewable energy and manufacturing industries. Users can apply different filters to see who has taken a particular tax incentive, which businesses saw the greatest tax benefit in a given year, or view the different tax preferences taken by a business.

The tool — online at — includes data from 2004-15 for tax incentives that require businesses to file an annual report or survey with the Department of Revenue.


Jubilee gala fundraiser set

Jubilee Leadership Academy’s annual Scholarship Gala is Oct. 1 at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco.

The event will feature live and silent auctions, special guest speakers and live entertainment.

Jubilee serves young men ages 13-18. Money raised will be used to help restore wholeness to young men with broken lives by providing them with academic, vocational and social skills.

Tickets are $50 and sponsorships are available. Call 509-627-8556 or visit for more information.


Downtown Kennewick holding girls’ night out event

The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership and Tri-Cities Cancer Center are hosting “Little Black Dress” Girls’ Night Out from noon to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6.

Money raised from the event benefits the Cancer Center’s breast cancer awareness efforts.

Attendees can enjoy shopping and dining, followed by a party from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Key Bank’s downtown location.

Tickets are $20 and include goodie bags, entertainment, appetizers, wine and prizes. Visit for tickets or more information.


Access Tri-Cities’ annual event set for Oct. 11

Access Tri-Cities will host its third annual Building Bridges and Breaking Down Barriers event from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 11 at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.

After an awards breakfast ceremony, guests can attend educational sessions, a career fair for high school seniors and a career fair for individuals with disabilities.

Call 509-378-5333 or email for more information.

Pasco School District launches mobile app

The latest news and information about Pasco schools is now available on smartphones and mobile devices with a new mobile app.

The free app is available in the online iTunes and Google Play app stores.

The app will offer an updated feed of district news and events with photos and links to the district’s website. The app can also be customized by the user by selecting the schools they are most interested in for news and updates. Users can also choose to receive push notifications to get breaking news and updates about school closures, calendar changes or sports updates.

Parents will also be able to track information about their children including grades and attendance, school lunch balances and menus, and bus information.

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