Business Briefs — September 2018

Tri-Cities Airport begins $10.5 million taxiway project

The Tri-Cities Airport has begun construction on a taxiway renovation project. The $10.5 million project will be performed in four phases, and won’t affect travelers.

As part of the plan, the airport will temporarily close Runway 12-30 and general aviation runway 3R-21L. The airport will then move and rehabilitate Taxiway A to bring it in line with current Federal Aviation Administration design standards.

Two additional taxiways will have their pavement rehabilitated, and portions of the apron will be extended. Including stops for winter weather, the project is expected to be completed in fall 2019.

“Airports are constantly evolving to keep pace with passenger growth, safety regulations, technological advancements and more,” said Buck Taft, director of Tri-Cities Airport. “This realignment project ensures that the airport will meet federal standards and continue to operate safely and efficiently.”

J-U-B Engineers is the project manager and also developed the taxiway project design; Inland Asphalt Co. will perform the construction work. Both firms have offices in the Tri-City area.

Ninety percent of the project’s costs come from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant, with the remaining portion being paid by the airport. The taxiway realignment project will not use local tax dollars.


Playground of Dreams closes for $1M in repairs 

Kennewick’s Playground of Dreams in Columbia Park will be closed through November while under repair.

It closed Sept. 13 so the 19-year-old wood structure can be replaced with a modern one that is safer and allows children of diverse abilities to play side-by-side with their peers.

The rebuild will take place in two phases, with the first to be completed in November, when it will be reopened for use. The second phase will take place in the spring.

Volunteers helped remove the memorial pickets that enclosed and helped fund the original structure, and city officials have salvaged donated embellishments and sponsorship plaques. The original supporters will be recognized along with the new sponsors of the rebuilt playground on new signage, said Kennewick’s Parks and Recreation Director Emily Estes-Cross.

“This playground was built by and continues to be owned by the community, and we intend to honor the contributions and memories that have been made. To ensure future generations also get to make memories, the time has come to replace it,” she said.

The new design will incorporate iconic elements and new features the community asked for during 2017 open houses and surveys, including a hydroplane, the cable bridge, a lighthouse and a Lampson crane. First phase components will be connected by ramps and the second phase of the site poured with a surface that can be navigated by users with wheelchairs or mobility limitations.

The city budgeted $350,000 toward the $1 million inclusive playground, and are fundraising for the balance. Private contributions total $180,000, and a major sponsorship partner is being sought.

To reclaim one of the 1,423 engraved pickets, visit Pickets can be picked up at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex during business hours.

For more information, please contact Emily Estes-Cross at 509-585-4258 or


Junior Achievement sets training sessions for interested volunteers

Junior Achievement of Washington is offering training sessions for business and community volunteers wanting to help empower young people to own their economic success.

Sessions will be offered from 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 28 at the Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive, and from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 2 at Gesa Credit Union, 51 Gage Blvd., Richland.

Junior Achievement of Southeast Washington relies on classroom volunteers to bring the group’s programs to K-12 students. Programs include hands-on education in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Jones at 509-783-7222 or


Home Show set for Oct. 5-7

The Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities’ Fall Home Show is planned for October.

The show will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 5-6 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 7 at TRAC, 6600 Burden Blvd., Pasco.

Admission is $5 for adults, and children under 16 are free. Free daily seminars are included with admission. A donation of nonperishable food items gives a $1 ticket discount.


Grant PUD increases rates for evolving industries

Cyptocurrency miners and other evolving industry firms that are Grant PUD customers can expect to pay higher electric rates next year.

Starting April 1, those companies will pay the first of a three-year, graduated increase to a new above-cost rate to protect Grant PUD from risk and preserve below-cost rates for core customers. Grant County commissioners approved a new rate for those industries Aug. 28.

Customers in this rate category will have a 15 percent increase in 2019, a 35 percent increase in 2020 and a 50 percent increase in 2021. The rates compensate the PUD for extra risk and preserve low costs for core customers.

The PUD said it faces risks from the evolving-industry companies, including being vulnerable to potential changes in regulation that could render the industry unviable, being an unproven industry with high potential for cessation partly because of large swings in output and they pose the potential for a significant concentration of electrical load and revenue risk to the PUD if one or all stop operating in a short time.

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.

Since summer 2017, Grant PUD has received new service inquiries for more than 2,000 megawatts of power, more than three times the electricity needed to power all Grant County homes, farms, businesses and industry. About 75 percent of those requests were from cryptocurrency miners.


Historic preservation grant program deadline nears 

Benton County has established an historic preservation grants program to promote historic preservation or historic programs within Benton County to increase knowledge and service to residents, and better preserve, exhibit and interpret historic items.

The 2019 grant cycle has allocated $50,000 to be available to applicants.

The application is in a fillable PDF format and may be saved to a computer and edited as needed before submission.

Email completed application to as a PDF document. Applications must be submitted by 3 p.m. Sept. 28.

For more information, contact Shyanne Faulconer at 509-222-3760 or


State receives grant to increase mental health care

Washington has received more than $284,000 as part of a nationwide grant awarded through the State Flexibility to Stabilize the Market program under the Affordable Care Act.

The money awarded to Washington will be used to increase access to mental health and addiction treatment services.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler will create a committee of consumers, medical and behavioral health care providers and insurers to begin work this fall on the two-year grant.

At the end of the grant, a detailed report will be created that will include data compiled from market analysis, consultants review of insurance parameters for services, identification of coverage gaps or disparities in how mental health care is covered compared to other services, as well as identifying barriers to mental health and treatment disorder services.


Jobs up across state, U.S.; second quarter ends strong

Washington gained 12,400 jobs in July according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nationally, the second quarter also ended strong with 157,000 jobs added in the U.S., reported the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

Manufacturing, accommodation and food services and temporary help services saw the biggest gains, while residential construction and auto sales slowed during the same period.

Unemployment claims saw a slight decrease to 4.6 percent compared to 4.8 percent the same month last year.


Vista Hermosa Foundation, Center for Sharing merge

The Center for Sharing and the Vista Hermosa Foundation merged their staff and programs into one team to be housed at the Collegium at 3525 E. A St., Pasco.

Vista Hermosa Foundation, founded by the Broetje family of Broetje Orchards, serves and educates children and under-served through various programs, including First Fruits Scholars to support low-income and first-generation college students and the partners in authentic community initiative to mentor servant-led organizations in Prescott, Pasco, Mexico and The Philippines, as well as other projects.

For more information, go to


WRPS reaches all-time record for no hours lost over injuries

Washington River Protection Solutions hit a record and surpassed 7.6 million hours without a lost workday injury at the end of July. It is the longest stretch dating back to 1991 when Hanford tank farms safety statistics have been available.

The company has been recognized for the past three years with the Voluntary Protection Program Innovation Awards. The awards were for developing a tool to help reduce worker exposure during surveys of radioactive equipment used to retrieve tank waste, developing a face shield that protects a worker wearing full face respiratory equipment from an arc flash and work to safely remove radioactive waste from a Hanford site underground storage tank.


Ecology seeks public comment on changes to Hanford storage tunnels 

The Washington State Department of Ecology is having a 45-day public comment period through Sept. 27.

This comment period addresses proposed modifications to the dangerous waste portion for the treatment, storage and disposal of dangerous waste for the Plutonium Uranium Extraction, or PUREX, plant storage tunnels.

The PUREX plant in the 200 East Area of the Hanford site was used from 1956-88 to process spent nuclear reactor fuel, and recovered plutonium, uranium and other radioactive isotopes. Two tunnels are used for the storage of waste.

In May 2017, a 20-foot section of the roof of Tunnel 1 collapsed. The collapse caused a two-day emergency response that involved notifying the public and regulatory agencies, sheltering site employees until surveys verified no contamination was released and filling the collapsed portion of the tunnel with soil.

Ecology issued an administrative order to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Richland Operations Office requiring corrective actions for tunnels 1 and 2. The proposed permit modification is to describe the stabilization actions taken for Tunnel 1, actions proposed for stabilizing Tunnel 2, and their relationship for future closure and cleanup actions. The proposed modification is at

Submit comments on the proposal by Sept. 27 to While electronic submissions are preferred, the public may also mail or hand deliver to Daina McFadden, 3100 Port of Benton Blvd., Richland WA 99354.


IRS releases updated W4 form, urges review after tax change

The IRS is recommending taxpayers update their W4s with a new form to reflect changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that included a reduction in the withholding tax tables, elimination of personal exemptions and a limitation to itemized deductions.

The IRS suggests the following groups in particular review their withholdings:

  • Two-income families.
  • People with two or more jobs.
  • People who only work for part of the year.
  • People with children who claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit.
  • People with older dependents including children 17 and older.
  • People who itemized in 2017.
  • People with high incomes or more complex tax returns.

A payroll withholding calculator is available at


State of American journalism topic of Oct. 10 panel

Humanities Washington has assembled a panel featuring Tri-City journalists to discuss “Breaking News: the State of American Journalism.”

The free event is at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at Tagaris Winery, 844 Tulip Lane, Richland.

The talk will examine the state of the news and features Tri-City Herald Executive Editor Laurie Williams; NW News Network’s Anna King; and Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business Editor Kristina Lord.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to register at

This event is part of Humanities Washington’s fall statewide series called, “Moment of Truth: Journalism and Democracy in an Age of Misinformation.”


You Medical Walk for Life is Oct. 6 at Columbia Point

You Medical is holding its annual Walk for Life and 5K Fun Run on Oct. 6 at the Columbia Point Marina in Richland.

Check in is at 9 a.m. for the 10 a.m. two-mile walk and a 10:15 a.m. start for the 5K run. Participants can walk or run for a donation of any amount or money raised through sponsorships. With a suggested donation of $30, a T-shirt is included.

Food will be available at 10:30 a.m. and Liberty Christian School’s marimba band will perform at 11 a.m.

For more information and to register, go to

Tri-Cities Food Bank closes West Richland branch

The Tri-Cities Food Bank shuttered the doors to the West Richland Branch on Sept. 8.

Food bank officials said the number of clients served at the Van Giesen Street branch didn’t justify continued operations.

It opened in January 2017.

West Richland food bank clients will continue to be served at the Richland branch at 321 Wellsian Way.

The West Richland Branch was opened in January 2017 following analysis of the number of city residents who were potential clients and community interest.

Food bank board Chairwoman V.J. Meadows said it was a hard but necessary decision.

“We would have liked to continue with a convenient location for our West Richland clients but, as a nonprofit organization, our operating costs need to be managed carefully,” she said. “We will continue welcoming our West Richland neighbors to the Wellsian Way branch.”


CAC offering listening session in Pasco

Community Action Connections is collaborating with the Statewide Poverty Action Network to offer a Pasco listening session from 5 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 20.

CAC is a nonprofit based in Pasco whose mission is to improve the quality of life for Benton and Franklin county residents through greater self-sufficiency.

Those living on a low income or relying on public assistance may share their experience to create social change.

Participants will be provided a free dinner, child care and $35 as an incentive to voice their opinions.

The session is free but RSVPs are required by contacting Omar Cuevas Vega at 206-694-6867 or

The event will be at the CAC agency at 710 W. Court St. in Pasco.


Tax collection laws changing for out-of-state companies Oct. 1

Tax collection laws are changing for companies who do business in Washington starting Oct. 1.

Businesses operating out of state without a physical presence in the state and making sales to Washington consumers must register, collect and submit retail sales and use tax on those sales if their sales exceed $100,000, or 200 transactions. The tax must be collected according to the delivery location.

Businesses can be categorized as a marketplace facilitator, remote seller, marketplace seller, referer or any combination of those.

Already in January, remote sellers and marketplace facilitators making more than $10,000 in retail sales either had to start registering their business and collecting and submitting sales/use tax on Washington sales or follow the use tax notice and reporting requirements.


Immigrant coalition seeks artists for October exhibit

The Tri-Cities Immigrant Coalition is calling for submissions from artists from all cultures and backgrounds who work in a variety of mediums to participate in a Kennewick exhibit.

Chosen artists will display their pieces at Monarcha Winery at Columbia Gardens in Kennewick beginning Oct. 20, with an opening free to the public, and running through Oct. 28.

The exhibit will consist of portraits of immigrants and their stories, videos of immigrants’ stories and original art by immigrants.

There is no charge for artists to be a part of the exhibit. Artists may sell their art.

To apply for consideration, send three digital photos of original art and a brief biography to Selection will be done by a panel of art professionals and community representatives.

Deadline for submissions is Sept. 30.

For more information, contact Marsha Stipe, co-chair coalition at, or Philippa Sonnichsen, co-chair coalition at


Seahawk party to raise money for mental health

Lourdes Health is holding a Seahawks Tailgate Party starting at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 14 at 6600 Burden Blvd., Pasco.

During the Seahawks vs. Raiders game, food, beverages, auctions and giveaways and more will be featured to raise money to support the mental health needs of the Tri-City community.

Tickets for those 21 and older are $50, or $350 for a table seating eight.

To buy tickets, call Wendee Bodnar at 509-546-2282.


Tri-City film festival to celebrate 10th anniversary

The Tri-Cities International Film Festival kicks off its tenth anniversary festival with the feature film, “Iron Brothers.”

Created by a trio of filmmaker brothers from Eastern Idaho, the movie has already garnered cinematography and best of festival awards from independent film festivals.

The Oct. 12 opening will be the Washington state premier of “Iron Brothers” and will feature the Smith brothers for an after-the-film question and answer period. Filmed on location in Eastern Idaho, “Iron Brothers” is the story of two fur traders on the run from Shoshone Indians, forced to test the bonds of brotherhood.

The festival has screened more than 1,200 independent short and feature films from around the world over the past 10 years. This year’s festival garnered more than 200 film submissions from 34 countries.

The festival runs from Oct. 12-14 in Richland’s Uptown Theater at 1300 Jadwin Ave., and Confluent Space, 285 Williams Blvd.

Films to be shown include independent award-winning feature films, documentaries and shorts in the sci-fi, animation, horror, documentary, comedy and fan film genres.

A presentation of awards to festival category winners will take place Oct. 13.

Tickets for this year’s Tri-Cities International Film Festival are $10 for a single day pass, or $30 for an all-fest pass. Tickets can be purchased at the door or on the web at,

Visit for the full schedule and to buy tickets.

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