Business Briefs — November 2016

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Port commissions Latino heritage murals

The Port of Kennewick has commissioned professional mural artist Andrew Reid to paint two murals focused on the Latino heritage in the Tri-Cities.

Reid was selected by the port’s Latino Heritage Mural committee, which is chaired by Davin Diaz, through a search process from a pool of 29 who responded to a call-to-artists earlier this year. Reid will be paid $18,000 to design, paint and install the murals.

The murals will span 672 square feet on two canvases and be installed on the port’s Columbia Gardens Wine & Artisan Village buildings. The murals are expected to be completed by September 2017.

The Latino Heritage Mural project is funded by the port with support from Columbia Center Rotary, Kennewick Arts Commission and mural committee members.

 

CBC receives funds for tree planting

Columbia Basin College recently received $2,500 from the Arbor Day Foundation and Boise Paper to increase publicity and outreach and to buy trees and planting materials for trees in front of its new Social Sciences and World Languages Center.

CBC has been an Arbor Day Foundation Tree Campus USA location since 2009 and was the first community college in Washington to receive the designation. Tree Campus USA recognizes college and university campuses that effectively manage trees and engage students.

 

Online registration for Turkey Trot open

Registration is open for the 13th annual Turkey Trot 1-mile or 5K-run, which starts at 9 a.m. at Columbia Park on Thanksgiving morning.

The American Red Cross and Gesa Community Credit Union are the title sponsors of this year’s event, which is expected to bring in more than 3,000 people.

Group discounts are available and children 10 and under who attend with a paid adult are free.

Register or get more information at gesaturkeytrot2016.eventbrite.com.

WSU college of medicine accepting applications

Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in Spokane has been granted membership in the Association of American Medical Colleges and is now accepting medical school applications for its inaugural class of 60 students.

Applicants must be current residents of Washington, or meet at least three of the following criteria: they were born in Washington state, their childhood address was in Washington, they graduated from a high school in Washington, and they have a parent or guardian who lives in Washington.

Specific admissions requirements can be found at medicine.wsu.edu and prospective students may apply online at students-residents.aamc.org.

 

DOE meets groundwater cleanup goals at Hanford

During the past year, contractor CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. met its goal to treat 2.1 billion gallons of groundwater, removing more than 180,000 pounds of contamination, including nitrates, hexavalent chromium and carbon tetrachloride, at the Department of Energy’s Hanford site to further protect the Columbia River.

Contaminated groundwater is a result of chemicals from the site’s plutonium production reactors into the soil along the Columbia River. Much of the contaminated soil has been removed, and CH2M is operating five groundwater treatment facilities along the river and one at the center of the site to address remaining key contamination.

 

CAC opens day center for families with children

Community Action Connections has opened Second Chance Center, a day center for families with children, in a newly renovated area of the CAC building at 720 W. Court St. in Pasco.

The center is designed to provide emergency assistance, crisis housing, food, laundry and shower facilities for families with children who are experiencing homelessness, living doubled-up or in imminent danger of becoming homeless.

The center aims to reduce the recidivism rate and provide a safe family-oriented day center with services to educate, encourage and assist in this process. CAC also offers training for budgeting and resúme development, and referrals to other agencies that offer services outside CAC’s scope.

Second Chance Center is the first program of its kind in Washington that is not connected to an overnight shelter, according to CAC.

Funding was secured through Benton and Franklin counties’ affordable housing funds, as well as a number of local foundations and private donors.

Call Judith Gidley, CAC executive director, at 509-545-4042 for more information.

 

Benton REA members approve proposed sale

Benton REA members voted 3,458 to 384 in favor of the sale of Benton REA electric facilities within the Yakama Nation Indian Reservation boundaries to the Nation’s electric utility, Yakama Power.

To validate the vote, a simple majority was needed with at least 25 percent participation of Benton REA memberships. The 3,842 ballots submitted represent more than a third of Benton REA’s membership.

Only Benton REA accounts that are within the Yakama Nation boundaries will be transferred to Yakama Power on Dec. 1.

Benton REA will continue to serve the nearly 14,000 accounts outside of the reservation.

 

Rachel road study open house set for Dec. 5

An open house for community members to talk about the realignment of Rachel Road is 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at Reata Springs Baptist Church, 2881 Leslie Road in Richland.

The city of Richland’s Comprehensive Land Use plan identifies the extension of Rachel Road, near the Amon Creek Natural Preserve, as a needed improvement to support connectivity between west Kennewick and areas of Richland and Benton County west of Leslie Road.

The open house gives the public a chance to share their thoughts about the plan and learn about the wildlife report, roadway design elements, street functionality and growth planning.

Along with community members who participate in public open houses, the Washington Department of Ecology, Richland Energy Services and Richland public works, multiple organizations and homeowners’ associations that make up the community advisory committee will work together to identify goals, set criteria, examine opportunities for enhancement and mitigation in the preserve and design features of a potential new connection.

Visit ci.richland.wa.gov.us/rachel, call The Langdon Group project manager, Bryant Kuechle at 800-252-8929 or email him at bk@langdongroupinc.com for more information.

 

Cancer center collects more than $243,000

The Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation’s Autumn Affair fundraiser raised more than $243,000 for programs and services at the cancer center.

The annual event was held Nov. 5 at the Pasco Red Lion and featured live and silent auctions.

 

ATHENA applications being accepted through Nov. 25

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce is accepting applications for the 2017 ATHENA Awards.

The ATHENA Leadership Award is given to a woman for professional excellence, community service and actively helping women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

The 2017 award recipients will be announced during the Sixth Annual Tri-Cities Women in Business Conference Jan. 25, 2017 at TRAC in Pasco.

Contact Jillian Marquez, 509-736-0510 or jillian.marquez@tricityregionalchamber.com for more information or to submit an application by the Nov. 25 deadline.

 

WSDA, department of ag to fund 21 projects

The Washington State Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture have awarded 21 projects $4.3 million in specialty crop block grant funding. Pears, apples, berries, nursery, lentils, potatoes and projects to enhance food safety are among the funded projects.

The grant program was created to support the competitiveness of the specialty crop industry. Projects selected will directly benefit crop producers, address critical issues and contain strong performance measures.

Visit agr.wa.gov/Grants/docs/2016AwardAbstracts.pdf for complete details of this year’s projects.

 

Celtic Christmas concert to benefit Arts Center task force

Affiniti, a Dublin, Ireland-based musical group, presents A Celtic Christmas concert at Richland’s Uptown Theatre at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7.

Affiniti blends its Celtic roots with classical, rock, opera and jazz influences. The concert also features a special appearance by Howard Crosby, nephew of the legendary Bing Crosby, who will sing Crosby favorites including, “White Christmas.”

Concert proceeds will benefit the Arts Center Task Force’s mission to build the Vista Arts Center, an 800-seat performing and visual arts center at the heart of Vista Field in Kennewick.

Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door. VIP tables, which include a bottle of Leonetti wine and a bottle of champagne, are $500. Coffee, brownies, water and wine will be available for sale in the lobby.

Buy tickets at artscentertaskforce.com.

 

Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo donates to cancer prevention

The Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo donated $11,235 to cancer prevention efforts as part of its Tough Enough to Wear Pink program.

Over the past 10 years, the fair has donated more than $153,000 to local programs to assist uninsured women. The money has enabled more than 1,500 people to receive free mammograms and cancer screenings, follow-up care and other assistance.

The money will be shared among the Kadlec Foundation, Trios Foundation, Lourdes Foundation and PMH Foundation to help those in need in the battle against cancer.

 

TPA agencies agree to forgo 2017 Hanford report

Hanford regulators are allowing the Department of Energy to forgo completing a report outlining the cost and schedule for Hanford cleanup through 2090.

DOE is required by the Tri-Party Agreement to prepare the “Hanford Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost Report” that reflects cleanup work each year.

The lifecycle report is typically submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency and Washington State Department of Ecology annually by Jan. 31.

The Hanford site is in the midst of a number of regulatory realignments, including a modified consent decree between the Office of River Protection and Ecology, and a new set of milestones that will result in re-planning of the work scope and costs.

These realignments will not be complete in time to be fully reflected in a 2017 report, so TPA agencies have decided the resources necessary for that report should instead focus on preparing for future reports.

 

DOE, CH2M Hill work to safely demolish PFP

Demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant, which operated from 1949-89 at the Hanford site and is one of the most hazardous buildings there, is underway.

The Department of Energy and contractor CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. are now demolishing the plant’s plutonium reclamation facility. Demolition of the plant’s Americium Recover Facility, main processing facility and fan house and ventilation stack will follow.

Since plant operations ceased in 1989, DOE has been preparing the facility for demolition by removing radiological and chemical hazards.

Internal hazard removal and mitigation is one component of ensuring a safe and compliant demolition. CH2M is also using extensive dust suppression and air monitoring, control of access to the area and use of structural engineering expertise to demolish the plant as safely as possible.

 

WSU Tri-Cities installs national honor society

Washington State University Tri-Cities recently welcomed the 338th chapter of Phi Kappa Phi national honor society.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 at the University of Maine and is the nation’s oldest collegiate honor society.

To be eligible, an institution must be a regionally accredited four-year college or university with an established reputation of excellence and an expressed commitment to upholding the values of the society.

Phi Kappa Phi inducts about 30,000 new members each year. Membership is by invitation to the top 7.5 percent of juniors and top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students, along with faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

 

WSU Tri-Cities receives $25 million GEAR UP grant

Washington State University Tri-Cities recently received a $25 million seven-year Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help students in low-income schools enter and succeed in secondary education.

The GEAR UP project will hire close to 100 new employees to work with students in middle schools to improve academic performance, completion of rigorous courses, knowledge of financial aid and post-secondary education, on-time graduation and post-secondary enrollment.

The program serves 4,500 students in the Walla Walla, College Place, Dayton, Prescott, Touchet, Kennewick, Othello, Warden, Moses Lake and Soap Lake school districts.

This is the seventh GEAR UP grant received by WSU Tri-Cities since 2002. Earlier awards have helped the university serve more than 25,000 students in middle and high schools.

 

MSA donates $10,000 to provide books for babies

Mission Support Alliance has donated $10,000 to Books for Babies, a program of the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia.

Books and information about the importance of reading 20 minutes with a child every day will be delivered to expectant parents during prenatal visits with their OB/GYNs.

MSA has donated $10,000 annually since 2010 to provide high-quality board books that are age appropriate to newborns.

 

Kadlec opens third urgent care clinic in Kennewick

Kadlec opened a third urgent care clinic at 9040 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick on Nov. 1.

Non-emergency ailments including sprains and strains, coughs, colds, stomach aches and more can be treated by providers trained in urgent care medicine. The clinic also offers lab and X-ray services if needed.

The new clinic is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and no appointments are necessary.

For more information, visit kadlec.org/urgentcare.

 

Richland completes Duportail Street reconstruction

The city of Richland recently completed the Duportail Street reconstruction and extension project.

Construction began in June and included the extension of Duportail to Wellsian Way, as well as the addition of roundabouts at Thayer and Wright avenues. The effort also added bike lanes and sidewalks, as well as street lights and roundabout landscaping.

The completed project is a phase of the Duportail corridor master plan, and along with the future construction of the Duportail bridge, helps ease traffic congestion, allows for quicker emergency response and further connects south Richland to the downtown district.

Visit ci.richland.wa.us/duportailextension for more information.

 

Candy Mountain summit trail builder helpers needed

Friends of Badger Mountain is seeking the public’s help to finish a 1.75-mile trail to the summit of Candy Mountain.

In summer 2016, the nonprofit organization completed an acquisition of land to create a new 196-acre preserve on Candy Mountain, and volunteers are needed to finish the inaugural trail.

Team-building projects for clubs or work groups are encouraged, and work parties are held most days. Work includes cleaning up after the excavator, tossing out clumps of grass and small rocks and smoothing the trail bed with rakes and shovels.

Contact Jim Langdon at 509-943-3992 or trailmaster@friendsofbadger.org for details and to sign up.

 

Lightbridge, Areva agree upon joint venture terms

Areva, a nuclear fuel, components and reactor services company, and Lightbridge Corp., a Reston, Virginia-based nuclear fuel development company, have agreed upon key terms to create a joint venture to develop, manufacture and commercialize fuel assemblies based on Lightbridge’s metallic nuclear fuel technology. The new technology aims to improve the economics, efficiency and safety of existing and new nuclear power facilities in the United States.

The U.S.-based joint venture will be equally owned by each company and cover fuel assemblies for most types of light water reactors, including small modular reactors.

 

Washington state approves 2017 health insurance plans

The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner approved 13 health insurers to sell 154 individual and family plans in 2017.

Nine insurers will sell 98 plans in the exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, and seven insurers will sell 56 plans outside the exchange. The average rate change is 13.6 percent.

During the previous open enrollment period, 1.7 million residents accessed affordable health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder, with more than 170,000 of those customers signing up for qualified health plans. Since going live three years ago, 2.4 million residents have used Washington Healthplanfinder to enroll in health coverage, including 750,000 who were previously uninsured.

About 320,000 people buy their health insurance in the individual and family market in Washington, and nearly half of people in the state get health coverage through their employer.

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2017.

 

Department of Ecology issues $181.9 million in penalties

The Washington Department of Ecology issued $181.9 million in penalties of $1,000 or more July through September.

One fine, to Volkswagen Group of America Inc., was more than $176 million and another for $444,000 was to Total Reclaim Inc.

Locally, the Office of River Protection was fined $5,000 for not documenting good cause for an extension of M-45-92 milestone, and the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford facility and its contractor CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. were fined $50,000 for mishandling dangerous waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

Ecology issues penalties in cases where non-compliance continues after the agency has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for particularly serious violations.

The money owed from penalties may be reduced from the issued amount due to settlement or court rulings. Money collected goes to the state’s general fund or to dedicated pollution prevention accounts.

 

Reach museum features Columbia Mammoth exhibit

A new exhibit at the Reach museum, “The Columbian Mammoth Discovery” allows visitors to visualize and understand the process of research and view big mammoth bones.

Columbian mammoths roamed Eastern Washington throughout the last Ice Age until Ice Age floods lead to their deaths.

In 1999, mammoth remains were discovered and collected south of Kennewick. The site was rediscovered in 2008 and formal excavation began in 2010. Nearly 500 samples, including more than 90 mammoth bones or bone fragments have been collected.

The exhibit is presented by the Mid-Columbia Basin Old Natural Education Sciences Research Center Foundation.

Call 509-943-4100 for more information.

 

Court rejects motion to dismiss worker safety lawsuit

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington Judge Thomas Rice recently rejected the U.S. Department of Energy’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson over longstanding worker safety issues at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

In September 2015, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against DOE and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, alleging that hazardous tank vapors pose a serious risk to workers at Hanford and workers were not being protected at the level they needed to be. The early November ruling by Judge Rice means that lawsuit can proceed.

A trial before Judge Rice is set for Sept. 18, 2017, but Ferguson, UA Local 598 and Hanford Challenge, an advocacy group promoting worker health and safety, have filed similar preliminary injunction motions to prevent further harm to Hanford workers by implementing certain protections now, in advance of trial.

Hanford Challenge and Local 598 are represented in their own lawsuit by the Smith and Lowney firm, Terrell Marshall Law Group, both based in Seattle, and Public Justice, a national public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C.

 

Wishing Star raises $53,000

The Wishing Star Foundation, with the help of many caring individuals and businesses—including Hapo Credit Union, Henker Financial Partners and Mission Support Alliance—raised $53,000 at its Oct. 7 Wishes & Wine dinner and auction at Meadow Springs Country Club.

The money will be used to help grant wishes and foster hope, community and lasting memories to children ages 3 to 21 who are battling life-threatening conditions, and to support their families.

 

Public research institutions to increase collaboration

The state’s three largest public research institutions, University of Washington, Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, have signed an agreement that expresses their intent to increase research collaborations on complex challenges and provide additional research and training opportunities for students in the state.

The three institutions already collaborate on several research efforts, including a clean energy testbed project, Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials and bringing smart manufacturing technology to energy intensive manufacturing in the Pacific Northwest.

The agreement aims to increase the number of joint or dual appointments, bring more science and engineering graduates to PNNL and grow the number and size of collaborations.

 

$2.7 million grant provides job-based apprenticeships

The U.S. Department of Labor chose Washington state as one of 37 to receive federal funds from the Obama Administration’s initiative ApprenticeshipUSA to help grow and diversify apprenticeships. The state will receive a $2.7 million grant over the next 18 months that will be used to register 600 new apprentices in health care, education, construction and advanced manufacturing through Project RAISE, or Registered Apprenticeship Initiative System Expansion.

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries filed for the grant based on the need to help more people find and keep jobs. The agency’s Apprenticeship program helps employers and employees develop and maintain on-the-job training programs. There are currently more than 12,000 apprentices participating in programs throughout Washington state.

 

SIGN fundraiser raises more than $400,000

SIGN Fracture Care International raised more than $400,000 from silent and live auctions, raise the paddle donations and matching funds at its annual “Wine and Dine for SIGN” fundraiser on Nov. 5 at the Three Rivers Conventon Center in Kennewick.

Richland-based SIGN is an orthopaedic humanitarian aid organization treating impoverished people in developing countries.

 

Fruit crop insurance deadline is Nov. 20

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency fruit producer crop insurance deadline for the 2017 crop year is Nov. 20.

Crop insurance provides protection against crop production losses due to natural perils including drought, hail and excessive moisture, and is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents.

Current policyholders who wish to make changes to their existing coverage also have until Nov. 20 to do so.

Learn more at rma.usda.gov.

 

ESD releases videos to help workers complete surveys

The Employment Security Department has released new videos in both Spanish and English to assist workers as they complete the first annual survey of agricultural workers, designed to help validate results of its annual Agricultural Wage and Practice Survey of employers.

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 wage practice survey, reaching out to a sample of 3,000 agricultural employers and 8,000 workers in Washington. Researchers will compare results from the worker survey to employer responses, then 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.

 

Gala D’Vine nets $152,481

The Trios Foundation’s annual Gala D’Vine raised more than $150,000 for renovations at Trios Women’s and Children’s Hospital, including its Family Birthing Center, which has experienced increased demand in maternity services.

Co-chaired by Dean and Helen Mitchell, the Gala saw a 10 percent increase in proceeds, as well as increases in attendance and sponsorship support.

Next year’s event will be held Oct. 14 at the Three Rivers Convention Center.

 

Ignite’s Lunch Buddies program seeks volunteers

Ignite Youth Mentoring has launched its Lunch Buddies Mentoring program aimed at encouraging good attendance and improving classroom behavior. Buddies have lunch with assigned students and spend the recess hour together once a week.

Every Friday at Vista Elementary School in Kennewick 40 mentors encourage, inspire and invest in kids in third through fifth grades. Plans are in place to expand the program to Virgie Robinson Elementary in east Pasco and Tapteal Elementary in West Richland, and eventually every elementary school in the Tri-Cities.

Lunch Buddies accepts volunteers 18 and over who pass necessary background checks.

Contact John Scheline at 509-948-3143 or john@igniteyouthmentoring.com for more information.

 

Wallula mill fined for air pollution violations

Simplot Western Stockmen’s feed mill in Wallula was fined $10,000 by the Washington Department of Ecology for not correctly using the proper equipment to protect people and the environment from air pollution when inspectors observed operations in December 2015.

The mill grinds corn into various grits for animal feed. Wallula is under a federally approved air quality maintenance plan to manage particles emitted into the air from the corn,  and although Simplot’s air permit is in order, equipment was being used improperly.

Simplot Western Stockmen’s may appeal the penalty within 30 days of its issue.

Pasco School District seeks ideas, committee members

The Pasco School District is seeking ideas from the public for the name of its new early learning center, which opens in early 2017. It is also looking for committee members to recommend a list of names narrowed down from community suggestions to the PSD board of directors.

Name nominations are due by Nov. 21 and can be emailed to names@psd1.org.

Those interested in applying for the committee may fill out an application at psd1.org. The naming committee will meet Dec. 1 and Dec. 15.

For more information, call 509-543-6703 or email kdocken@psd1.org.