Business Briefs — August 2018

Developer announces plans for Osprey Pointe project

A development company has six months to come up with a plan to turn 52 acres of Pasco riverfront into a mixed commercial and residential development.

Mitch Gilbert of Eaty Gourmet LLC has signed an exclusive letter of intent with the Port of Pasco for the development along the south side of East Ainsworth Avenue, called Osprey Pointe.

“It’s a multifaceted agreement that took a lot of effort by both parties to shape,” Gilbert said in a news release. “Together we are committed to expanding the community’s economy and adding to its vitality.”

Gilbert’s company plans to focus on the master development plan, strategic partnerships, and securing financing for the project that will include a market hall, boutique hotel, indoor-outdoor event space and a mix of commercial and residential housing, according to a port news release.

“The port commission has always believed that Osprey Pointe is a special place to create investment and opportunity in Pasco. The Eaty Gourmet group gets that. The vision they presented will accelerate revitalization and create national interest and prestige. This project can be transformational for Pasco and the Tri-Cities,” said Jean Ryckman, port commission president, in a statement.

The agreement between Gilbert and the port allows for six months to create a plan to address the project’s amenities, schedule and financing.


Franklin PUD nixes new high-density load requests

Franklin PUD placed a moratorium on new high-density load applications related to virtual or cryptocurrency mining.

The ban gives staff time to review possible impacts on utility operations and providing future services to those needing high-density loads.

High-density loads have impacts on electrical systems that are different from typical residential and commercial customers, so the PUD wishes to ensure distribution facilities are adequate to alleviate potential safety and reliability risk.


Swift Corridor project receives $500,000

The Board of Benton County Commissioners recently approved a $500,000 disbursement agreement with the city of Richland for the first phase of its Swift Corridor project.

The money from the Rural County Capital Fund will be used to renovate and revitalize the Swift Boulevard corridor between Jadwin Avenue and Stevens Drive as part of the city’s city hall construction project.

The capital fund, established through a state sales tax rebate, allows Benton County and its municipal partners the chance to access locally-sourced capital.


Irrigators hail court decision on water rights transfer

The Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association is trumpeting a Benton-Franklin Superior Court action to reverse a decision by the state Department of Ecology Water Resources Program to deny a water right transfer proposed by Loyal Pig LLC.

Loyal Pig is part of a water right change/transfer affecting high-value irrigated wine grape production along the Columbia River in the Horse Heaven Hills area.

The court’s reversal order reinstates the water right transfer previously approved by the Franklin County Water Conservancy Board and prevents Ecology from usurping water law provisions protecting the water right from relinquishment, the association said in a news release.

Joining Loyal Pig in defending the water right, the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association emphasized that perhaps the most important piece of the state water code, the five-year period for relinquishment protection, was being corrupted by Ecology.

The association argued water rights subjected to either a judicial adjudication or administrative determination receive a five-year “period of grace” for non-use. During this period, the full consumptive amount of the right is available for transfer.

Ecology attempted to stop the water right transfer and invoke relinquishment, but the Superior Court ordered otherwise, the association said in a news release.

State Ecology officials said the Aug. 2 court order is only a portion of the final decision. The department is waiting to receive the complete decision to evaluate it wholly before deciding if an appeal is appropriate. “Our position in the case is that we didn’t have the correct information to approve the water right transfer that the Franklin County Water Conservancy Board previously approved,” said Brook Beeler, Ecology spokesperson.

The irrigators group is pressing forward with a second phase of the Loyal Pig litigation that would block any further attempts by the state to pursue relinquishment actions under similar types of water right transfers, effectively invoking “illegal administrative rule making.”


Session on how to do business with Corps of Engineers set for Oct. 10

Business owners and representatives can learn how to do business with the Army Corps of Engineers during a free industry day seminar offered by the Corps’ Walla Walla District from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Marcus Whitman Conference Center, 6 W. Rose St. in Walla Walla.

Topics to be covered include: regulatory and legislative updates; program and contracting processes, including, presentations on teaming arrangements, past performance, market research, sources sought, evaluation processes, acquisition strategies and forecast of upcoming opportunities; and break-out sessions focused on hydropower, flood risk management, navigation, juvenile fish program, recreation and construction, and environmental and service contract requirements.

There is no charge to participate, but registration is required due to limited seating. Register online at


WSU Tri-Cities seeks cultural learning partners

Washington State University Tri-Cities is looking for community members who want to connect with international students to share cultural customs, develop meaningful relationships and help them feel connected through its Cultural Learning Partners program.

Participants complete an interview process, must pass a background check, attend a kick-off event and check in with the student coordinator.

Contact Erika Kraus at 509-372-7444 or for more information or to begin the application process.


First responders barbecue set for Sept. 8

Richland Masonic Lodge is holding a free appreciation barbecue for all first responders from noon to 7 p.m. Sept. 8.

The event at 412 Thayer Drive features burgers, hot dogs, chips and pop.


KID canals could transfer to local ownership

An act of Congress could transfer the facilities managed and operated by Kennewick Irrigation District to local control.

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, has introduced legislation to authorize the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation transfer.

The news was announced at an Aug. 6 news conference.

The proposal would cover the area from KID’s head gate and extend 40 miles east. The transfer includes the conveyance of land and project facilities and should be completed no later than two years after the enactment.

“Water providers across our region and across the West face numerous challenges to supply water, including growing demand, aging infrastructure, and changing precipitation patterns,” Newhouse said in a statement. “By transferring title to a local entity like the KID, water suppliers can better manage critical water resources and empower water managers to be as responsive, efficient and innovative as possible in serving the community.”

KID released the following statement: “Title transfer allows the district to take ownership of what our customers have paid for. It will greatly benefit our community by allowing local challenges to be addressed locally and enhancing operational efficiencies.”

In addition to ensuring that the proper reviews are completed, KID will repay its allocated share of construction costs to the federal government.


American Red Cross seeks volunteers

The American Red Cross is looking for people with extra time on their hands, including the recently retired, to volunteer with the nonprofit.

Red Cross volunteers travel with all expenses paid, and are trained to meet the needs of those affected by disasters, providing food, shelter and comfort. The organization helps residents prepare for and recover from emergencies of all kinds.

Volunteers constitute 94 percent of the Red Cross workforce.

Call 509-318-1845 or visit


Bechtel donates $250,000 to support Tri-City businesses

Bechtel National Inc. announced a $250,000 donation to the Tri-Cities Regional Business and Visitor Center, a collaboration for the shared office space for the Tri-Cities Regional Chamber, TRIDEC and Visit Tri-Cities.

The donation also extends Bechtel’s naming rights of the facility’s board room and provides money to help offset lease and maintenance costs.

“These organizations these organizations help strengthen local businesses and enhance the local business climate. They attract new businesses, large and small, to the Tri-Cities. And they market our community to tourists who come here and generate sales and tax revenue,” said Bechtel Senior Vice President Brian Reilly. “As a result, our community continues to grow and thrive.”

The center serves as a centralized business location for these and other organizations in the Tri-Cities.

Bechtel previously donated $250,000 for sponsorship of the board room in 2008. The latest contribution will be spread across five years.

Bechtel holds the prime contract to design, build, startup and commission the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at the Hanford site. It has a long history in the Tri-Cities, having assisted in the engineering and construction of the Columbia Generating Station managed by Energy Northwest and in the Northwest, having designed and built the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge.


State added 4,100 jobs in June; unemployment remains at 4.7 percent

The state Employment Security Department reported that Washington employers added 4,100 jobs in June and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent, as in May. The private sector added 4,800 jobs during the month—with the biggest job growth occurring in professional and business services—while the public sector lost 700 jobs.

The national unemployment rate for June was at 4.0 percent, and ESD paid unemployment benefits to 45,868 people during the month.

Washington added an estimated 83,500 new jobs from June 2017 to June 2018, not seasonally adjusted, with top gains in professional and business services, retail trade, and education and health services.

State regulations to prevent tank leaks improved

The state Department of Ecology has strengthened regulations to prevent leaks from 9,000 underground storage tanks that have three billion gallons of fuel pass through them annually.

If underground tanks aren’t properly maintained, they can leak, potentially polluting drinking water and posing threats to humans and the environment.

Review changes to the underground tank compliance program at Ecology’s rulemaking webpage at


Ecology collecting comments on water quality standards

The state Department of Ecology is proposing an update to the methods used to assess the quality of state waters. The update would improve standards used to protect people from waterborne disease while they enjoy recreational activities like swimming and boating.

Currently fecal coliform bacteria testing is used, but new, more precise methods are available. Public comment will be accepted through public hearings, online webinars and in-person meetings through Sept. 14.

Visit Ecology’s Recreational Use Criteria rulemaking webpage for hearing dates and details.


Dinner cruise fundraiser set for Sept. 22

Communities in Schools of Benton-Franklin’s All-Aboard fundraiser dinner cruise is Sept. 22. The event includes dinner, wine, auction and games.

Communities in Schools is an independent nonprofit that aligns itself with school districts to provide students support, empower them to stay in school and achieve in life. CISBF has site coordinators in 21 schools throughout the Mid-Columbia.

Email for more information.


Ecology accepting public comment on Purex tunnels permit modification

The state Department of Ecology is collecting public comments about proposed modifications to the Purex storage tunnels at the Hanford site for 45 days beginning in mid-August. At the request of the public, there are two public hearings— at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Richland Public Library and at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5 at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle.

For more information, contact Daina McFadden, 509-372-7950 or


Lieberman to speak at Spokane event

Independent think tank Washington Policy Center recently announced former Sen. Joe Lieberman is the speaker for its Eastern Washington annual dinner on Oct. 24 at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane. Lieberman will talk about strengthening America through engaged foreign policy, school choice and national civility.

Visit or call 206-937-9691 to buy individual tickets.


Prosser chamber holds beer, whiskey festival

The Prosser Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Port of Benton and Tour Prosser, is holding the fifth annual Beer & Whiskey Festival from 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Prosser Wine and Food Park on Lee Road.

Tickets start at $40 and include all beer and spirit tastings, and pre-sale VIP tickets are $75.

To buy tickets or for more information, visit or call 509-786-3177.


BBB warns about football ticket scams

The Better Business Bureau warns fans to watch out for phony ticket scams.

Common scams include reselling fake or non-existent tickets, price gouging, ticket scalping and scammers who use bots to buy thousands of tickets and resell them at inflated prices.

BBB encourages consumers to pay for tickets with a credit card, verify tickets’ authenticity, look for secure sites, check out the seller and shop locally.

Visit for more information.


New radio station launches in Tri-Cities

Stephens Media Group recently launched KKSR, a new contemporary Christian music station known as Shine 95.7 FM in the Tri-Cities.

The station streams at, on free mobile apps and Amazon Alexa devices.

The company also operates Power 99.1 FM, 94.9 FM The Wolf and Eagle 106.5 FM.


AG office cracks down on veterans’ charities for misleading donors

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed two lawsuits in July, one against Spanaway-based Fallen Hero Bracelets and another against Florida nonprofit Healing Heroes Network.

The lawsuits allege the organizations violated the Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive conduct in the marketplace, and the Charitable Solicitations Act, which prohibits false, misleading or deceptive charitable solicitations. The organizations told potential donors that their donations would benefit veterans when little to none of the money raised actually did.

The lawsuits are part of Operation Donate with Honor, a nationwide effort against veterans’ fundraising fraud coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission and National Association of State Charities officials.


DOE awards $95 million in small business research, development grants

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced it will award     $95 million to 80 small businesses in 26 states for phase two research and development, including $997,293 to InEnTec Inc., 1935 Butler Loop in Richland, for its work using plasma fuel reformer to extend combustion lean limits.

The grants are funded through DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Small businesses that demonstrated technical feasibility for innovations during their first-phase grants competed for funding for prototype or processes development during the second phase.

The programs were created by Congress to leverage small companies to advance innovation at federal agencies.


HFG Trust reaches $650M in assets under management

HFG Trust, a Kennewick-based wealth management firm, has reached $650 million in assets under management and increased its client base to 700.

HFG Trust cited its partnership with Community First Bank and positive cross-utilization of expanded services to its 17 percent gain in total assets since last quarter.

The firm was founded by CEO Ty Haberling 35 years ago and provides fee-only financial planning services and portfolio management. William Wang is the company’s president.


Cancer Center Foundation’s golf tourney set for Aug. 17

The Tri-City Cancer Center Foundation’s 25th annual golf tournament is Aug. 17 at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick, with lunch at 11:30 a.m., shotgun start at 1 p.m., and a dinner and awards ceremony at 5 p.m.

The event includes hole-in-one prize opportunities, tee prizes and more.

For more information regarding the golf tournament or to register a team, contact Lori Lott, special events coordinator at the cancer center’s foundation office at 509-737-3373 or via email at


ACT screening ‘Wizard of Oz’ movie as fundraiser

The Academy of Children’s Theatre is showcasing the classic movie, “Wizard of Oz,” as a family-friendly fundraising event on Aug. 25. 

The screening will take place at 9 a.m. at the Fairchild Cinemas in Pasco.

Tickets are $10, which includes a $1 off coupon toward a ticket to ACT’s production of “Wizard of Oz” this fall.

This special fundraising event will benefit the ACT’s theatre expansion project, scheduled to open in 2020.

Information about the new theatre will be available in the theater lobby.

Entertainment and a meet-and-greet with members of the ACT “Wizard of Oz” cast also will be featured.

Tickets may be bought online at or at ACT, 213 Wellsian Way, Richland.


Business association opposes I-1631

The Association of Washington Business’ board of directors opposes Initiative 1631, which seeks to impose a new carbon emissions fee on Washington employers.

As proposed, the initiative would establish an escalating fee on carbon emissions starting at $15 per metric ton, immediately adding 14 cents per gallon of gasoline. The fee would increase annually by $2 per ton plus inflation.

AWB said it believes the initiative does little to reduce global carbon emissions and because of the increased cost of energy for families and employers, puts Washington businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

AWB is a statewide business association with nearly 7,000 members representing 700,000 employees.


Banner Corporation to buy Skagit Bancorp

Banner Corp., a holding company for Banner Bank and Islanders Bank, will acquire Skagit Bank, a Washington state-chartered commercial bank in an all-stock transaction.

The combined company will have about $11.4 billion in assets.

Skagit Bancorp was founded in 1958 and operates 11 retail branches.

Banner is a $10.4 billion bank holding company operating two commercial banks in four Western states, including in the Tri-Cities.


Aviation museum in Pasco opens Aug. 24

The grand opening celebration of the new Pasco Aviation Museum at 4102 N. Stearman Ave. is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 24 when admission to the museum will be free. A commemorative Air Force B-17 will be on display, and flights and tours will be available.

Call Malin Bergstrom at 509-521-7117 or visit for more information.


INB reports decreased second quarter, increased six-month net income 

Northwest Bancorporation Inc., the holding company of Inland Northwest Bank, reported $1.44 million net income for the second quarter, compared to $2.15 million for the first quarter. Earnings per share were 19 cents, down 10 cents from the previous quarter, but improved 18.7 percent from second quarter 2017.

Quarterly earnings were negatively affected by $495,000 in one-time costs related to abandonment of a planned initial public offering of the company’s common stock and $259,000 one-time costs related to its merger with First Interstate BankSystem. For the six months ended that June 30, net income was $3.59 million, compared to $2.02 million for the corresponding period in 2017, and earnings improved 54.8 percent year over year.


IRS seeks community tax volunteers

The Internal Revenue Service needs volunteers who want to help provide free tax preparation in communities during the 2019 tax season.

The IRS sponsors the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs each year, offering free tax help for people with low to moderate incomes, senior citizens, people with disabilities and those who speak limited English.

Volunteers typically work three to five hours per week. Last year, the programs’ volunteers assisted with the preparation more than 3.5 million federal tax returns for qualified taxpayers at no cost.

Visit for details.

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