Business Briefs — October 2016

Workers compensation workshop set for Oct. 18

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is offering a free workshop for employers from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 18 at its regional office at 4310 W. 24th Ave., Kennewick.

Attendees will learn about how businesses can control workers’ compensation costs by sharing return-to-work incentives offered by L&I, why employers are using medically-approved light-duty, how to apply for Stay-at-Work program reimbursements and about the newly expanded Preferred Worker program, which offers $20,000 in incentives to employers who support injured workers with permanent medical restrictions.

Call 360-902-5189 or visit for more information.


Grape Society holds meeting Nov. 10-11

The Washington State Grape Society is holding its annual meeting and trade show Nov. 10-11 at the Church of the Nazarene, 500 N. Elm, Grandview.

The program will highlight issues grape growers face and include an economic update.

Terry Bates, director of the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension, will discuss mechanical thinning. Some seminars will be eligible for Washington State pesticide recertification credits.

Visit or call 509-585-5460 for more information.


ACT receives Ohl family gift

The Ohl Family Giving Fund recently provided a $20,000 gift to the Academy of Children’s Theatre.

ACT depends on the generosity of gifts to continue to play its vibrant role in the arts sector.

The Ohl gift will be used to address the most pressing funding needs at ACT, which serves children ages 3 1/2 through high school with main stage productions, classes and special programs.

Last year, more than 6,000 children participated in or experienced ACT’s performance arts-based offerings.


Businesses to promote breast cancer awareness

The Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation encourages local companies to partner for breast cancer awareness throughout the month of October by signing up for a free business box.

Each box includes donation canisters to collect money, pink promotional items, staked signs and fundraising activity ideas.

More than 50 businesses participated in the program in 2015. All the money raised benefits breast cancer patients in the community. For more information, call 509-737-3413 or email


Badger Club hosts forum on minimum wage

Columbia Basin Badger Club will host a panel about the minimum wage at its luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 20 at the Richland Shilo Inn.

The discussion will explore the minimum wage, changes in rules and whether this is “really worker protection or business sabotage.”

Cost is $20 for members or $25 for others in advance, or $30 the day of the event. RSVP by leaving a message at 509-628-6011 or email rsvp@columbia


App-designing challenge underway

In late September,  Rep. Dan Newhouse announced the Fourth Congressional District will participate in its second annual Congressional App Challenge, a national app competition for students.

The challenge provides young tech-savvy people to be creative and build STEM skills. Students at all levels of coding experience are encouraged to make submissions through Nov. 2.

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges and receive a prize tour of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The apps will be featured on a video display at the U.S. Capitol building. Visit congressio, call 202-225-5816 or email for more information.


WSU achieves record enrollment

Washington State University reached a record system wide enrollment of 30,142 students this semester, an increase of 1.5 percent over the same semester last year.

WSU Tri-Cities welcomed 177 new freshmen and 284 new transfer students.

Provost Daniel J. Bernardo said WSU continues to attract a large number of first-generation students, who represent 37.6 percent of this year’s entering freshmen and 42.8 percent of entering transfer students.

He also noted minorities represent 31.4 percent of the undergraduate population and 17.1 percent of the graduate student population.


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, as well as 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 509-737-8778 for information.


Grant addresses food, energy, water needs

Thanks to a $3 million grant cosponsored by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a team led by Washington State University will study how to better coordinate and manage the food, water and energy needs of the Columbia River basin, and make the region more resilient to a changing climate.

The project includes faculty from WSU Pullman and Vancouver in partnership with researchers from University of Idaho, University of Utah, Utah State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Review the list of researchers at


WSU receives $2.2 million grant

Washington State University has won a five-year, $2.2 million grant to increase the number of certified K-8 teachers with bilingual and English learners (EL) endorsements and provide professional development to improve EL instruction.

The Equity for Language Learners-Improving Practices and Acquisition of Culturally-Responsive Teaching project aims to build on the strengths and talents of paraprofessionals. It will provide full scholarships to at least 52 paraprofessionals to complete their bachelors’ degrees in education with EL endorsements.

None of the 295 school districts in Washington had their EL students meet all reading or math standards during the 2013-14 school year, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The state average of EL students per district is 10.5 percent, while Pasco has 52 percent.

Pasco schools, along with those from Evergreen, Grandview, Kennewick, Prosser and Richland are partner districts in the project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.


Dealerships host food drive

In conjunction with Yoke’s Fresh Markets, select Tri-Cities and Walla Walla area auto and RV dealerships are accepting non-perishable items during their 15th annual Octoberfest through Oct. 31.

Customers who shop at Yoke’s stores in Pasco, Richland, Kennewick and West Richland can buy an Octoberfest food drive food bag for $5 or $10. The donated bag can be dropped in the donation bin before leaving the store, and the bags will be collected and delivered to area food banks.

In the Tri-Cities, donations can also be dropped off at any McCurley Integrity dealership, Corwin Ford or Russ Dean RV, or in Walla Walla at McCurley Integrity Toyota.

The dealerships will also provide a monetary donation from their auto and RV sales during the month. The group effort has collected more than 560,000 pounds of non-perishable food in its first 14 years. Last year, the group provided a $42,785 cash donation to purchase requested food items at a substantial discount through Yoke’s, and hopes to exceed that donation amount this year.


L&I proposes workers’ compensation increase

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has proposed a 0.7 percent rate increase for 2017.

Employers and workers in Washington pay into the workers’ comp system so they’re covered if someone suffers a work-related injury or illness.

L&I sets the rates every fall for the following year after analyzing expected workers’ compensation payouts, size of the reserve fund, wage inflation and other financial indicators. The proposed increase would cost employers about $10 more per year per employee. Workers on average will not see an increase in what they pay.

If adopted, the new proposal will bring the annual workers’ compensation rate increase over the past six years to just over 1 percent.


Crossfit gym hosts fundraiser Nov. 5

Rattlesnake Mountain Crossfit is hosting a fundraiser, Choose Hope, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 5 at its facility at 2016 Logston Boulevard in Richland.

The workout event will raise money and gather unused toiletries for Ronald McDonald House Charities in Seattle to support families and children receiving treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Registration fee is $30 and includes a T-shirt for those who register by Oct. 24. Final registration deadline is Nov. 3.

Call 509-375-7755 or visit for more information, or sign up for the event at


Turkey Drive donations sought

Second Harvest’s annual Turkey Drive is underway.

The nonprofit aims to feed 2,000 local families in need with donations of a holiday food box.

AgriNorthwest, Lamb Weston, Easterday Farms, H.R. Spinner, Jacobs Radio and the Dairy Farmers of Washington are providing food, funds and promotional support, but additional money is needed from community members, businesses and other organizations.

Donate $15 for fixings or $30 for turkey and fixings at Meal boxes will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 19 at TRAC in Pasco.


Noxious weed permit feedback sought

The public is invited to comment on proposed updates to the state’s aquatic noxious weed control permit, which allows the use of herbicides to control invasive, non-native plants that are so aggressive they harm local ecosystems or disrupt agricultural production.

Noxious plants crowd out native species that fish and wildlife depend on. They also cost agriculturalists millions of dollars in control efforts and lost production, which ultimately may increase the cost of food.

Under the proposed changes, the permitting process would be streamlined to make the Department of Agriculture the sole permittee. Landowners would apply to work under the permit through the Agriculture Department. Currently, landowners can apply to either the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Ecology. Ecology will hold an in-person and webinar public workshop and hearing at 1 p.m. Oct. 27 at its Lacey headquarters building.

Public comments may be made there or online by Nov. 4. For more information, call Nathan Lubliner at 360-407-6563 or email


Second Harvest, New Horizons team up

Second Harvest and New Horizons High School in Pasco have partnered to provide a food pantry for students and families in need.

While the school has had a pantry for four years, donations of food by staff, community members and local organizations have not always been steady or sufficient.

The new partnership provides a reliable source of food for students who have often been food insecure.

New Horizons, an alternative school, currently has 219 students, 100 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced school meals. Many of its students’ families struggle to meet their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. The pantry is run by New Horizons students.


Bechtel makes STEM donations

Bechtel National Inc. donated $10,000 to the Washington State STEM Education Foundation and Mid-Columbia STEM Network to expand career-connected learning experiences.

Bechtel’s investment will support these Mid-Columbia STEM efforts: Innovation Grant Program, Volunteer and Community Coordinator program, student internships, community events and communications, and STEM Like Me! Program.

The Washington State STEM Foundation incorporated in 2009 and aims to support projects that create a substantial and sustainable impact on the quality of STEM education across the Mid-Columbia. Since its founding in 1898, Bechtel has worked on more than 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents.


Chaplaincy hosts end-of-life conference

Chaplaincy Health Care is holding a one-day conference from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

The conference will provide a chance to gain a greater understanding of the complex issues in providing palliative care, including pain management impact of moral trauma and grief, as well as an introduction to diverse perspectives at end of life.

Dr. Wayne Kohan will provide the keynote, “End-of-Life Pain Management: How to Do it Right.”

Registration is $75, and there is a discount for students studying in a health care-related field. Call 509-783-7416 or visit for more information.


More than 1,200 attend annual WPC dinner

More than 1,200 people attended Washington Policy Center’s annual Eastern Washington dinner Sept. 20 at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane. The nonprofit’s Spokane and Bellevue 2016 annual dinner events raised more than $1 million to fund its research centers in education, environment, government reform, health care, small business, transportation and agriculture.

Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer-prize winning columnist, provided the keynote. Gen. James N. Mattis was recognized with the Champion of Freedom award. Washington Policy Center is an independent think tank that promotes sound public policy based on free-market solutions.


Libraries’ literary festival features author talks

The Mid-Columbia Reads literary festival encourages the Mid-Columbia to engage with the same books and come together to explore and celebrate the written and spoken word.

The program intends to build community through the collective experience of reading, thinking and discussing themes that raise important social issues while also building future readers and writers.

This year’s selections are “Circling the Sun” by Paula McLain and “The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen.

McLain will present at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at Art Fuller Auditorium at Kennewick High School.

Diesen will visit with fans at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Prosser branch and at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Kennewick branch.

Participants can pick up a free copy of either book at any event location while supplies last.

The Kennewick branch at 1620 S. Union St. is hosting an art exhibit, “Recovering the Classics,” through Oct. 31. It showcases the covers of 50 public domain books, from “Les Miserables” to “Jane Eyre” to “Dracula” as re-imagined by modern artists. The pieces are each three feet tall and are on display throughout the branch.

Learn more about Recovering the Classics at 50×, or about Mid-Columbia Libraries festival at


Trios cancer team hosts dinner Nov. 3

The Trios Cancer Care team will host “More than Medicine: Inside the Cancer Care Journey,” a special dinner presentation from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. The event will feature patient, caregiver, and oncology and staff testimonials providing insights into all stages of a person’s cancer journey.

Trios Cancer Care spans all cancer related services including prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and palliative care.

The event is open to the public and there is no cost to attend. Advance registration is required. Sign up at before 4 p.m. Oct. 28.


Cancer 101 series aims to educate

Northwest Cancer Clinic is hosting a support series that brings physicians together to educate cancer patients, survivors and caregivers about patient care services to help manage symptoms and what to expect before, during and after treatment.

The Cancer 101 class is from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at 7379 W. Deschutes Ave., Suite 100, Kennewick. Northwest Cancer Clinic, led by Dr. Brian Lawenda, is a 21st Century Oncology affiliate. Call 509-987-1800 or visit for more information.


Trios Southridge Pharmacy now open

As part of efforts to improve patient access and convenience, Trios Southridge Pharmacy, at 3730 Plaza Way in Kennewick, opened Oct. 4.

The pharmacy at the Trios Care Center at Vista Field Kennewick closed Sept. 30.

The Trios Southridge Pharmacy is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is steps away from several Trios Medical Group provider practices as well as lab, diagnostic imaging and other services.

Trios Health is the Kennewick Public Hospital District’s system of care serving the greater Tri-Cities. Trios Medical Group serves as the core of a growing medical staff of more than 325 providers throughout the Tri-Cities.

Reach Trios Southridge Pharmacy at 509-222-6150, or visit for more information.


Boeing supports local STEM efforts

To ensure students receive a future-ready education that builds 21st century skills to prepare students for college and careers, Boeing has given $5,000 to the Core Plus program at Tri-Tech Skills Center and $5,000 to the STEM Like Me! Program, run by the Mid-Columbia STEM Network.

Core Plus is a two-year, standardized high school curriculum developed by Boeing and recognized by the manufacturing industry throughout Washington to prepare high school graduates for entry-level careers in manufacturing.

STEM Like Me! is a personal encounter between professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math and eager middle school students on the cusp of understanding who they can be in the future.


Minimum wage to increase 6 cents

The state minimum wage increases to $9.53 per hour Jan. 1.

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is responsible for calculating the state’s minimum wage each year in September as required under Initiative 688, which voters approved in 1998.

The new wage is up from the 2016 minimum wage of $9.47 per hour. Some jurisdictions, including Seattle, Sea-Tac and Tacoma have approved local minimum wages that are higher than the state’s.

The change reflects a 0.7 percent increase in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. The rise is expected to affect nearly 51,000 workers, based on full-time equivalent jobs, according to the state Employment Security Department. The minimum wage applies to all jobs, including those in agriculture. Workers under 16 can be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $8.10 an hour, in 2017.

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