Networking — November 2018


James and Angie Sessions of Pasco received the 2018 Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Angels in Adoption award. The couple was inspired to become foster parents after learning about the foster care system at a local church camp for children in state custody. They became foster parents for four siblings – three young brothers and their baby sister – and were determined to keep the family together. In August 2017, the family grew from two to six when Ajay, Nathan, Kyler and Layla found their forever home with the couple. The nonprofit institute works to raise awareness about the needs of children without families.

The Northwest Dairy Association and Darigold, which has a plant in Sunnyside, received the 2018 Community Impact Award from Seattle Business magazine. The company was honored with a gold award in the sustainability category for its practices on co-op farms as well as across all Darigold operations.

Lamb Weston received a $266,500 incentive check from the city of Richland for an energy efficiency project. Operational and equipment improvements at its Richland plant will save 12 million kilowatt-hours, or enough energy for 833 Richland homes.

As part of the Bonneville Power Administration’s Energy Smart Industrial Program, the city of Richland’s Energy Services department provides incentives to help offset the cost of high-efficiency systems and operations and encourage the development of energy-efficiency projects.

The Association of Community Cancer Centers presented the 2018 Innovator Award to the Tri-Cities Cancer Center in Kennewick. It was one of seven award recipients and honored for its prevention and early detection programs that involved a multifaceted public awareness campaign on leading causes of cancer deaths, importance of cancer screenings and smoking cessation, and a workplace wellness program. The awards recognize ACCC member programs that have created innovative solutions to challenges commonly faced by cancer programs and practices, as well as the multidisciplinary care team.

Columbia Basin College’s softball complex was named the 2018 National Fastpitch Coaches Association Field of the Year for the Northwest Athletic Conference division by Turface Athletics. The national award comes after new dugouts and locker rooms were added as well as improvements over the past four years including the addition of restrooms, snack bar, turf bullpens, scoreboard and a full-field windscreen.

Ann Shively, the Tri-City Dust Devils’ assistant general manager – sponsorships, was named the 2018 Northwest League Woman Executive of the Year. She has worked with the team for six years.

HPM Corporation, operating at Hanford as HPMC Occupational Medical Services, received the NASA Space Flight Awareness Team Award during a ceremony at Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstsville, Alabama. The company with nationwide operations has had contractor operations at Hanford since 2004.

Bryan Castaneda and Tyler Castaneda, sons of Vicky and Leandro Castaneda of Kennewick, received the rank of Eagle Scout. The Kennewick High School students received the Boy Scouts highest honor after earning 21 merit badges and completing community service projects. For their projects, Bryan produced a play for Horse Heaven Hills Middle School and Tyler oversaw a team of volunteers knitting infant caps for Trios Health’s neonatal intensive care unit. The brothers are members of Boy Scout Troop 183 and their leader is Ron Bush.

The Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals awarded i3 Global of Kennewick seven 2018 MarCom Awards. The media services company was given two platinum awards and five gold awards. The awards recognize excellence in marketing and communications nationwide.

Financial-services firm Edward Jones, which has offices in the Tri-Cities, ranked No. 4 on the recently released Best Workplace for Women by Great Place to Work and Fortune. The company is the highest-ranking financial-services firm on the list. The ranking considered more than 540,000 employee surveys from Great Place to Work-certified companies.

A Tri-City business was among 12 statewide recently honored for its efforts to hire and support military veterans in 2018. Tri-Cities 911 Driving School, a veteran-owned company, employs 22 driving instructors, of which 17 are veterans. During the year, the owner interviewed and hired every single veteran referred by WorkSource. The driving school also provides its disabled veteran employees more flexible schedules and work environments. The owner is active in the veteran community and donates his time at prisons to help veterans who need their driver’s licenses reinstated.

The state Employment Security Department created the Hire-A-Vet Award as a way to call attention to unemployed veterans in Washington and to recognize companies with a good track record of hiring, retaining and celebrating veterans in their work force.

The city of West Richland was ranked as one of Washington’s 20 safest cities in a recent report by Safewise, a professional review and comparison website. The city ranked 12 of 20 cities selected and was recognized for having one of the lowest property crime rates in the state at less than 10 per 1,000 residents.

Second Harvest Inland Northwest received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator. It is the eighth year the nonprofit has received the highest star rating from the organization.

Hawthorne Elementary School in Kennewick was named a 2018 School of Distinction by the Center for Educational Effectiveness, which recognizes schools in the top 5 percent of improvement in English, language arts and math achievement or graduation rate over five years. Hawthorne was the only school in the Tri-Cities to receive the honor.

Visit Tri-Cities presented two awards at its annual meeting on Nov. 1. The Excellence in Service went to Friends of Badger Mountain for its volunteer work that resulted in a public trail to the top of Candy Mountain.

The group also presented its newly renamed Kris Watkins Tourism Champion of the Year award to Steve Jensen, state director for the National Softball Association, for his role in creating an annual softball tournament that brings thousands to the region. And has an estimated economic impact of more than $1.3 million



The city of Pasco hired Jacob Gonzalez as senior planner for the Community and Economic Development Department. He studied geography and urban design/regional planning at the University of Washington and participated in research projects and internships for the Port of Seattle and Puget Sound Regional Council, learning about land use and transportation issues. In 2013, he joined the Benton-Franklin Council of Governments, the Tri-City planning organization working on a variety of programs, including travel forecasting, congestion management, public involvement and Federal Title VI efforts.

The Kennewick School District hired Brandon Potts as the new director of capital projects. He has worked for 15 years as a general contractor, overseeing construction of hospitals and higher education buildings. Potts has a bachelor of science degree in construction management from Purdue University.

Diane Hansen joined Cougar Digital Marketing & Design as a content writer and marketing strategist. She has more than 25 years of experience in the communications field, most recently with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Hansen has a bachelor’s from Washington State University.

The board of directors for the Richland-based Fuse appointed Rocco Luongo as chief executive officer, effective Oct. 1. He will focus on integrating and implementing strategic direction from the board, and boosting membership growth and impact.
Fuse is a coworking space and business accelerator. Fuse’s Jessica Stangeland has stepped down as general manager.

Luongo is a 20-year veteran of international business and product development. He developed his passion for business problem solving into taking lead roles in start-ups, and then starting, growing and selling his own companies. He continues to operate his management and technical consultancy as a licensed professional engineer offering executive coaching and technical leadership services. He completed his bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering at the University of New Hampshire, and his master’s work in mechanical and industrial engineering in Heidelberg, Germany. He has multiple patents and is a licensed professional engineer.

Juan Muñoz-Oca was named Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ new executive vice president of winemaking, vineyards and operations. His role will take effect in January after current vice president, Doug Gore, retires. Muñoz-Oca is one of the vice presidents of winemaking overseeing select brands. Bob Bertheau, a vice president of winemaking at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, will take on the role of senior vice president of winemaking in January.

Brandi Hilmes joined Community First Bank as branch operations manager for the Kennewick branch in October. Hilmes earned her associate degree at Columbia Basin College and brings more than 17 years of banking experience. As a member of Soroptimist International of Three Rivers, she enjoys giving back to the community she calls home. She has lived in the Tri-Cities for more than 20 years and enjoys reading and spending time with her three daughters.

Trindera Engineering has hired Ricardo Munoz as an electrical project engineer who will be based in the Spokane office. The electrical and control systems engineering firm also has offices in Kennewick and Coeur d’Alene.

The Tri-Cities Cancer Center hired Samantha Jones and Christopher Alley as radiation therapists.

Jones graduated with magna cum laude honors from St. Louis University with a bachelor’s in radiation therapy, and has trained at a number of cancer centers.

Alley most recently worked as lead radiation therapist at ProCure Proton Therapy in Somerset, New Jersey. He has an associate of science in radiation therapy from Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana.

Jeff R. Egbert has been appointed interim chief executive officer of Astria Regional Medical Center in Yakima. He has worked in the health care field for 28 years, including work as a CEO for hospitals in Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Ohio. He has a master’s in health care administration and a bachelor’s in chemistry/biology.

Kennewick native Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle Dey is serving in the Navy aboard the USS John C. Stennis. The 2015 Hanford High graduate is an electronics technician.

Jessica Fryberger is the new administrative assistant for United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Mary in North Dakota.



Shawn Schwartz, a real state agent with Whalen Real Estate in Kennewick, received the Certified Negotiation Expert designation. She has 14 years of experience selling Tri-City real estate.

The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau increased the city of Pasco’s Fire Protection Rating. The bureau evaluated Washington communities for their fire protection and suppression capability. Communities receive protection ratings from 1 — exemplary fire protection capabilities — to 10, which indicates that capabilities, if any, are insufficient for insurance credit. Pasco’s rating increased from 5 to 3, which may lower fire insurance premiums. Forty-eight communities in Washington have a rating of 3, five have a 2 rating and none has a 1 rating.

Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine has received initial accreditation for graduate medical education from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The program welcomed its inaugural class with fall semester 2017, and this next step allows the college to develop and sponsor residency and fellowship training programs.



The Junior Achievement of Washington’s Hearts are Wild Gala raised $59,240. Money raised at the September event at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick will help pay for Junior Achievement youth programs in the Mid-Columbia.

Roasters Coffee, a locally-owned and operated company, donated $3,194, all profits from every drink sold Oct. 29 at all Tri-City Roasters locations, to My Friends Place in Kennewick.



Researchers are delving into making the hard cider filling frosty mugs even better with a $500,000 grant. A group from Washington State University will be working with orchardists and cider makers to develop the best apples for the beverage. The three-year grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will assist researchers to learn what barriers exist for producing cider apples and meet with cider makers to hear what they look for in selecting cider apples.

Communities In Schools of Washington has been selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide to share a $9.25 million grant from AT&T Aspire program. Over two years, Communities In Schools of Washington’s $750,000 award will provide additional site coordinators at four high schools: Chiawana (Pasco), Todd Beamer (Federal Way), Clover Park (Lakewood) and Renton High School. Site coordinators at these high schools will serve an estimated 360 students at risk of dropping out.

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