Business Briefs — June 2019

Partnership helps Hanford contractor close data center

The U.S. Department of Energy has retired an old data center and installed a new, more efficient system that reduces information technology costs by up to a million dollars over the next 10 years, thanks to a partnership with the Benton and Franklin County public utility districts and the Northwest Open Access Network, or NoaNet.

“Not only did we avoid an upgrade of $750,000, but we’re saving the department over $100,000 a year in ongoing costs,” said Mike Eddy, the IT infrastructure manager at the Hanford site. “Each organization made a unique contribution to this project to make it successful.”

As a part of the closure, DOE’s Hanford site services contractor Mission Support Alliance moved out of a nearly 5,000-square-foot building and into a 500-square-foot room at a Franklin PUD facility with space allocated specifically for Hanford.

The closure of the old data center supports DOE’s goal to reduce operating costs at the 580-square-mile government site.

“We continually strive to partner with organizations benefiting our community, and this certainly worked out well for everyone,” said Ben Hooper, Franklin PUD Broadband manager. “In today’s fast-paced world, we need to partner with our local community, government entities and businesses alike for effective deployment of wholesale broadband networks and technology services. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

MSA manages Hanford’s computer network, which includes a primary and backup data center. With changing technology, MSA bought updated equipment and was able to downsize the amount of space needed to operate the old data center.

Franklin PUD has available facility space and NoaNet is providing the telecommunication services. MSA is leasing the fiber from NoaNet and the facility space from Franklin PUD.

“We look forward to growing this partnership as a way of developing broadband solutions that benefit MSA, DOE, and the Tri-City community,” said Rich Nall, network coordinated services director with NoaNet.


Board OKs $5.87M in grants, loans for rural improvements

The Washington Community Economic Revitalization Board recently approved $3.2 million in low-interest loans and $2.67 million in grants for public infrastructure projects targeting rural broadband, business growth and job creation.

Yakima County received a $975,000 loan and $325,000 grant from the CERB “Committed Private Partners” program to give to the Port of Sunnyside to prepare for a multimillion-dollar construction project at Ostrom’s Mushroom Farms. CERB funding to the port supports design, procurement and construction of a gas purification system, underground gas and electrical conveyance lines to Ostrom’s Mushroom Farms and a new genset unit with enclosure and waste heat recovery unit.

Ostrom’s is investing $45 million in the project, which is expected to create 156 jobs and retain 270 jobs within five years.

Other agencies receiving money were Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Public Utility District No. 1 of Kitsap County, Mason County Public Utility District No. 3 and the Port of Bellingham.


Jacobs Radio launches new country station

Jacobs Radio has launched a new country station that focuses on country hits from the 90s and 2000s with artists like George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, Martina McBride and Rascal Flatts.

The new station is called Tri-Country 102.3 FM.

“We decided to create a new radio station with a huge song library where you already know all the words and can sing along with every song,” said station owner Jeff Jacobs.


Chamber offers grants to small-business members

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Washington River Protection Solutions have teamed up to offer grants to area small businesses through the small business incentive program.

Winners receive up to $2,000 each for various items to enhance their company and grow their business in the community.

The program launched in 2011 and since its inception 268 grants have been given to small businesses, totaling $240,000. Previous grants have helped businesses buy software, website design, professional training, new signage, computers and more.

To be eligible:

  • The company must be an established small business and a member of the Tri-City Regional Chamber. Non-members that have been in business at least 18 months may still qualify for the program upon joining the chamber prior to the application deadline.
  • The company must be organized as a for-profit business and demonstrate potential for success.
  • All applicants must complete the entire application and sufficiently demonstrate how the item will strengthen their business.
  • Applicant businesses must have 30 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and annual revenue less than $3 million.

New this year, members can apply through an online application at
tricityregionalchamber.com.

Printed applications also will be accepted; they can be turned into the chamber office at 7130 W. Grandridge Blvd., Suite C, in Kennewick.

Applications must be received by 5 p.m. July 26 to be considered.

For more information, call 509-736-0510 or email info@tricityregionalchamber.com.


Generating station’s 24th refueling project nears end

Columbia Generating Station disconnected from the Northwest power grid on May 13 to begin its 24th refueling.

Owned and operated by Energy Northwest, the station, located 10 miles north of Richland, is scheduled to be offline for no more than 40 days. It’s expected to restart and reconnect to the Northwest power grid in mid-June.

Refueling is an opportunity to add fresh nuclear fuel to Columbia’s reactor core, as well as perform maintenance projects that can best be accomplished only when the reactor is offline.

Energy Northwest and the Bonneville Power Administration time the plant’s biennial refueling to coincide with spring snow melt and runoff that maximizes power output from the region’s hydroelectric dams and minimizes the impact of taking the nuclear station offline. Nuclear and hydro are the region’s only full-time clean energy resources.

During refueling work, crews replace 260 of the 764 nuclear fuel assemblies in the reactor core. Every two years, fuel that has been in the reactor core for six years, about a third of the assemblies, is removed and placed in a used fuel pool for dry-cask storage at a later date.

During the refueling, workers install a 34-foot, 133-ton refurbished low-pressure turbine rotor as part of Columbia’s life-cycle plan to satisfy the plant’s license extension to 2043.

In addition, workers will use robotics to perform a generator inspection, and upgrade the plant fire detection system. In all, regular and temporary employees will complete 1,300 work orders involving more than 7,500 tasks. The total budget for refueling, maintenance and capital investment work is about $127 million.

Planning efforts begin two years prior to the start of each refueling.

More than 1,200 temporary workers were hired locally and from across the country to support maintenance projects at Columbia. The added workers join Energy Northwest’s normal work force of about 1,000 employees.

According to a study by the Nuclear Energy Institute, Columbia’s operation contributes about $690 million annually to the regional economy and will contribute $8.9 billion to the state economy between 2018 and 2043.


Pasco chooses name for new middle school

Pasco School District’s newest middle school will be named after military veteran and longtime educator Ray Reynolds.

A joint groundbreaking ceremony for the $46.5 million Reynolds Middle School and $28.5 million Columbia River Elementary was held May 23 at the construction site of the two new schools at 9011 Burns Road, near the intersection of Springer Lane and Burns Road.

Both schools will open for students in the 2020-21 school year.

Reynolds attended Pasco High School in 1945 before moving to Idaho for further education. He eventually joined the Army and served in the Korean War. He continued his service in the Army Reserves from 1953-87, when he retired as a major general.

Reynolds attended college at Kansas State University, where he played football and basketball. In the years following the Korean War, he attended the University of Montana, before graduating from Eastern Washington College, now Eastern Washington University.

From 1955-61, Reynolds served on the Washington State Patrol, and from 1961-68 he taught and coached at Eastern Washington College. In 1968, Reynolds began his tenure with the Pasco School District, and over the next three decades, he worked as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal and director of secondary education.

He retired from Pasco School District in 1999.


Ex-Hanford workers get free admission to Dust Devils

Former Hanford workers may attend for free the third annual former Hanford Worker Appreciation Night at the Tri-City Dust Devils baseball game. All former atomic workers are invited to attend the game, free of charge.

The game is June 15 at Gesa Stadium, 6200 Burden Blvd. in Pasco. Gates open at 6:15 p.m. and the Dust Devils game begins at 7:15 p.m. A celebratory fireworks display follows the game.

A local former Hanford worker will throw out the first pitch. Former Hanford workers will have the opportunity to participate in special giveaways and will be honored throughout the baseball game.

For more information or to RSVP for free tickets, former workers may call 509-420-5222. Free parking passes are available for the first 50 people to RSVP.

Nuclear Care Partners is sponsoring the event. It provides EEOICPA, or Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, benefits guidance and no-cost in-home care to former atomic workers who have developed serious illnesses due to the exposure to radiation and toxins they endured in the workplace. Founded in 2011, Nuclear Care Partners serves hundreds of former atomic workers across the nation.


Numerica Kennewick branch closes lobby for renovations

Numerica Credit Union’s Kennewick branch at 3115 W. Kennewick Ave. is operating from a portable office unit adjacent to the branch while it undergoes remodeling.

The work began May 13. The closure of the lobby is expected to last about four months.

Drive through windows will still be operating normal business hours, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The remodel will result in an open design to allow for a more personal member experience, Numerica said.

Numerica also offers a mobile app where members can transfer funds between accounts, deposit checks by taking a picture, pay bills and check balances.

A 24/7, drive-thru ATM is equipped to deposit both cash and checks, make payments and withdraw funds.

For renovation updates, go to numericacu.com or call 800-433-1837.


VA, HUD officials mark 75th anniversary of GI Bill

The GI Bill’s VA loan program backed its 24 millionth home loan in 2019.

Officials celebrated the 75th anniversary of the GI Bill on June 5 in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson noted that veteran homelessness recently has been on the decline, with a 5.4 percent decrease recorded over the past year and overall figures cut in half since 2010.

“The GI Bill has positively impacted millions of men and women through education, medical funding and home loans,” Carson said. “It is through this area that HUD is proud to have made such a profound impact in the lives of our nation’s veterans. And while the tremendous debt we owe to our brothers and sisters in arms may never be fully repaid, we can and will do everything in our power to leverage the GI Bill and HUD’s programs to provide affordable housing for all Americans.”

The 24th millionth loan recipient was Army Sgt. 1st Class William Kopf, an active Guard Reserve soldier who turned to his home loan benefit for the third time after service requirements necessitated a move from Utah to northeastern Pennsylvania.

“When you’re deployed, you’re not thinking about your next life steps; you’re not worried about a loan, you’re not worried about a home. You’re worried about that day’s mission and the well-being of the troops,” Kopf said. “But when you are (back home) and you’re trying to make that transition to the next part of your life, that’s where the VA comes in — and that’s where you need them the most. Knowing the VA has our back and that we can enjoy the American dream is absolutely something special, and it’s been a relief to my family.”

Kopf noted that the major benefit of VA loans is that they do not require a down payment. The program also limits closing costs and prohibits the imposition of mortgage insurance. The VA currently operates more than three million active loans, with 2,000 guaranteed through the program every day.


Visit Tri-Cities seeks nominations for award

Visit Tri-Cities is accepting nominations for outstanding individuals or businesses that have enhanced the tourism industry through their excellent customer service skills.

One person or business will receive the Excellence in Service Award, an acknowledgement that celebrates members of the Tri-City tourism and service industry for their ongoing commitment to go above and beyond in providing outstanding customer service.

Visitor spending in the Tri-Cities hit $560.2 million in 2018, which sustains 6,370 jobs in Benton and Franklin counties.

The deadline for nominations is Sept. 2.

The winner will be honored at the Visit Tri-Cities annual meeting on Nov. 12, where they will accept their award, as well as receive a $500 gift card sponsored by Battelle.

The winner of the 2018 award was Friends of Badger Mountain for its work establishing the Candy Mountain Preserve and working with the community to develop a public trail to the top of Candy Mountain.

For more information or to fill out a nomination form, go to
VisitTri-Cities.com/ExcellenceInService.


Day’s Pay fundraiser for Reach museum is June 20

The Reach Foundation’s annual fundraiser aims to keep the spirit of the Day’s Pay alive.

About 51,000 employees from Hanford Engineer Works donated a day’s pay toward the purchase of a B-17 bomber in 1944.

The annual fundraiser’s theme features 1940s theme and attire.

Money raised at the event, which features a 1940s theme and attire and includes a buffet dinner and open wine bar, will go toward the operations of the Reach Museum in its ongoing efforts to share, educate and focus on the history of the Hanford area.

The event is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. June 20 at the Reach is at 1943 Columbia Park Trail and Richland.

Tickets are $45 a person, or $360 for a table. To buy them, call 509-943-4100 or email diannam@visitthereach.org.


Libraries launch adult summer reading challenges

Mid-Columbia Libraries and the Richland Public Library kick off their summer reading programs for adults and kids in June.

Adults who finish the Mid-Columbia Libraries’ summer reading challenge of reading or listening to an audiobook for 15 hours receive a book bag, while supplies last. All finishers are entered to win a variety of grand prizes. Kids who finish receive a free book.

Beginning July 8, finishers may turn in their completed logs to their local branch library and collect their prize. Those who register by June 28 will be entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Sign up for the Richland Public Library’s adult summer reading program at the help desk or at richland.lib.wa.us. Rather than logging reading hours, the Richland library rewards those who complete an activity grid and book reviews. The finished grid is submitted for a grand prize drawing and book reviews can be submitted all summer to be eligible for additional prize drawings. The grid is nine squares consisting of tasks like reading a book published in the last two years or attending a local program or event. Book reviews may be submitted in person or online. Completed entries must be received by Aug. 30. Several Tri-City businesses have donated prizes for finishers.


Signups for cancer-fighting cooking classes underway

Take a cooking class that highlights the cancer-fighting properties of common produce found at Tri-City area farmers markets.

The Cancer Crushing Cuisine classes are a partnership between the Tri-Cities Cancer Center and Red Mountain Kitchen, both in Kennewick.

Education on cancer-fighting properties of produce and other ingredients will be provided by a Lourdes Health dietician and Tri-Cities Cancer Center naturopath Dr. Lindsey Josephson. Participants will prepare a healthy dish to enjoy at the kitchen or to take home under the guidance of Chef Kyle Thornhill.

Classes will coincide with the downtown Kennewick farmers market from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on Aug. 8 and Oct. 10. The Red Mountain Kitchen is at 212 W. Kennewick Ave.

Each cooking class will be unique, focusing on seasonal produce. An RSVP is required. To register, call 509-737-3413.

Cost is $50 per individual per session, which includes all supplies, with $25 going toward a donation to the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation in honor of its 25th anniversary.

For more information, go to tccancer.org/cuisine.


FUSE celebrates pride month with LGBTQ fireside chat

Fuse SPC celebrates pride month June 26 with a LGBTQ focused fireside chat at 6 p.m. The special guest is Carly Coburn, vice chair of PFLAG of Benton and Franklin Counties. PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

The primary focus of this free public event is to encourage inclusion and treating all populations with respect in the workplace.

Coburn moved to the Tri-Cities in 2015 and joined the board of Tri-Cities Pride Festival as the communications director. Coburn has continued community organizing and became vice chair in April.

Fireside chat features a live interview with some of the Tri-Cities’ most influential and interesting people.

Free tickets are available at https://ti.to/fuse/fireside-chat-with-pflag-s-carly-coburn.

Fuse SPC is a business and community accelerator started by local entrepreneurs four years ago that offers a membership-based coworking space at 723 The Parkway in Richland, which offers a mentorship program and small business workshops.


Hanford public comment periods deadlines near

Public comment periods are underway to comment on Hanford cleanup and budget priorities and modification to the Hanford dangerous waste permit.

Here’s how to weigh in:

Hanford cleanup and budget priorities: The DOE, Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Ecology invite the public to comment on Hanford cleanup and budget priorities for fiscal year 2021. The public comment period runs through June 15.

The three agencies held a public meeting on May 15. To review the presentation, project posters and Department of Ecology’s presentation, and submit comments, go to https://go.usa.gov/xmAPK.

Low-Activity Waste Pretreatment System: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection is holding a 60-day public comment period to support a Class 3 modification to the Hanford dangerous waste permit.

This modification is requesting approval from the state Department of Ecology to add a new operating unit for the Low-Activity Waste Pretreatment System. This operating unit will pretreat double-shell tank waste to remove cesium and filter out solid particles for subsequent vitrification in the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant’s Low-Activity Waste facility. The public comment period runs through June 30. To comment, go to https://go.usa.gov/xmAmf.

To learn more, go to Hanford.gov and see the events calendar.


AARP seeks community service award nominations

AARP Washington is accepting nominations for its 2019 Washington Andrus Award for Community Service, which honors Washingtonians 50 and better who are sharing their experiences, talents and skills to enrich the lives of their community.  

In addition to receiving the award, AARP Washington will donate $2,000 to an approved and registered charity or nonprofit of the winner’s choice.

For more information about the awards and the online nomination form, go to aarp.org/andrus or call AARP Washington at 866-277-7457 to have a paper nomination form mailed to you. Applications will be accepted through July 15.


Former governor, general to speak at fundraiser

Guest speakers at the Oct. 24 Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner in Spokane are former N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, former U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner events are a way to bring people together to hear about how free-market solutions are improving lives not only in Washington state, but across the country.

WPC’s annual dinner events in eastern and western Washington attract more than 2,500 elected officials, business and community leaders, raising more $1.4 million to support WPC’s work. 

Tickets cost $350. For more information, go to washingtonpolicy.org/events.


AWB seeks applicants for statewide business awards

The Association of Washington Business is accepting applications for its award programs.

Companies are recognized for exemplifying innovation, community spirit and environmental stewardship.

Application deadline is June 30.

For more information and an application, go to awb.org/awards.


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Tri-Cities Diversity Summit

October 16 @ 8:00 am - 1:30 pm

Seminar on how to do business with Corps of Engineers

October 16 @ 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

6th Annual Building Bridges & Breaking Down Barriers

October 17 @ 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
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