Networking – February 2020

Awards and Honors

• Rich Breshears of Breshears Professional Photography in Kennewick has earned the photographic craftsman degree from Professional Photographers of America, a nonprofit photography trade association. The degree was presented at the association’s annual convention, Imaging USA, held Jan. 19-21 in Nashville, Tennessee. Breshears has met the standards of excellence set by PPA in recognition of his service to the photographic profession as an orator, author and mentor. In 2020, he was one of only 59 recipients.

In addition to the degree, Breshears earned a master’s of photography in 2017, is a certified professional photographer, or CPP, of which less than 1 percent of all photographers hold degrees in, and is a CPP liaison, assisting other photographers to become CPPs. 

Rich and his wife, Mary Ann, own and operate the Kennewick studio.

• Fields of Grace received the 2019 fresh results award from the Washington Food Coalition for its efforts to address food insecurity throughout the community. The award highlighted Fields of Grace’s collaboration with the agriculture programs at Columbia Basin College and Washington State University Tri-Cities. In 2019, Fields of Grace gleaned 87 tons of fresh produce for area food banks and other food distribution points.

Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland earned a five-star quality rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS. It is one of three hospitals in Eastern Washington to earn the designation. The CMS Hospital Compare evaluation looks at quality measures related to mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care and efficient use of medical imaging in more than 4,500 hospitals across the United States. 

• Columbia Basin College received the 2019 Tree Campus USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to urban forest management. The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. CBC achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project.

• Astria Health’s Sherry Jivelekas, a registered nurse, family nurse practitioner, and clinical director of Astria Sunnyside Hospital Cancer Center, will receive the Employee Support of Guard and Reserve’s Patriot Award, on Feb. 28. The award program was established in 1972 to protect and promote supportive work environments for service members in the U.S. Reserve and National Guard. The award recognizes employers who support the Reserve and National Guard men and women during times of activation, training and deployments. 

Lee Jackson, a certified nurse practitioner at the center who is also a medical director major in the Army Reserve, nominated Jivelekas for the award. He said he appreciates Astria Health and Jivelekas’ support when he has had to deploy. Jackson joined the Army in 2001 after 9/11. In  March, he will deploy for the 8th time during his 18-year Army career.

Jivelekas, clinical director, has served in this role at the cancer center since it was opened by Astria Health in March 2016.  

• Pasco/Tri Cities KOA has won KOA’s 2020 President’s Award. The award is presented to KOA campgrounds that excel in providing great camping facilities and consistently high levels of guest service. Recipients are chosen by KOA’s camping guests through satisfaction surveys and KOA’s own  quality inspection. 

• Toyota of Tri-Cities has received the Pasco Kennewick Rotary Club’s Four Way Test Award for supporting the community and honoring the test, which poses four questions: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will be it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? The company has been a primary sponsor of the Rotary Duck Race for 15 years.

Rotary also cited Toyota of Tri-Cities’ support of other community projects, including Toys for Tots, Burst a Bus project to collect school supplies for kids in need, Gesa Carousel of Dreams and Kennewick Police Foundation.


• Water from Wine of Paterson, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit winery in the Horse Heaven Hills, has announced the distribution of $10,000 grants to each of the following eight water-related nonprofits: Etta Projects of Tacoma; Clean Water for Haiti of Vancouver, Washington; Gravity Water of Santa Cruz, California; Thirst Project of Los Angeles; Samburu Project of Los Angeles; Pure Water for the World of Rutland, Vermont; Choose Water of Montgomery, Alabama; and Ugandan Water Project of Bloomfield, New York.

As a nonprofit vineyard and winery, Water from Wine’s mission is to generate revenue to fund clean water and sanitation projects. The World Health Organization reports that nearly one in three people globally do not have access to safe drinking water. In the U.S., more than 100 organizations focusing on the global need for clean water. 

With proceeds from wine sales, Water from Wine provides grants to established nonprofit organizations working to solve that need. Sales are made through the tasting room in Leavenworth and online at To date, Water from Wine has donated more than $500,000.


• Columbia Center Rotary reports its campout fundraiser to combat human sex trafficking and support victims raised more than $44,000. More than 200 people participated in the January event, which included a walk, campfires, hot chocolate and s’mores.

New Hires

• Christy Watts has been hired as the new administrator of the East Benton County History Museum. She previously worked as the development director for Tri-Cities Prep where she was responsible for the annual campaign, soliciting funds for school construction and scholarships for deserving students. She is an experienced event coordinator, a past president of Columbia Center Rotary, and has served on and chaired numerous nonprofit boards, and currently serves on Kennewick’s Block Grant Advisory Committee. Watts’ goal is to work with the museum to grow from its strengths and build stronger community support. 

• Chad Michael has been named Kennewick’s new fire chief, effective March 16. A swearing-in ceremony is March 17 during the Kennewick City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. at 210 W. Sixth Ave. A community reception also will be scheduled in March, date and time to be announced, for the public to meet him. Michael began his firefighting career in 1992 as a resident firefighter with Spokane County Fire District 8 and was hired by the same department in 1996 as a career firefighter. Over the past 23 years, he enjoyed a diverse career with a few different fire departments in various roles. For the past 11 years, Michael served at the executive level as the deputy chief of training and operations, acting fire chief, deputy chief of support services, and deputy chief of operations. Most recently he served as the deputy chief of operations with the Vancouver Fire Department. He earned an associate degree in fire science and fire command from Spokane Community College. He graduated from Whitworth College with a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington. 

• Todd Busch is Tidewater’s new president and chief executive officer and member of the board of directors effective Jan. 16. Busch succeeds Bob Curcio who retired and had served as president and CEO since 2013. Busch has more than three decades of senior and executive leadership experience with Crowley Marine Corp., last serving as senior vice president and general manager in Jacksonville, Florida. Busch’s background includes maritime operations, naval architecture, logistics and strategic planning. 

Headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, Tidewater was founded in 1932 and has evolved from a barge line, primarily handling wheat, into Tidewater Holdings Inc., a multi-commodity transportation, terminal, and marine construction and repair company serving the diverse and evolving transportation needs of the Pacific Northwest. 

• The National Park Service has selected Laura Law as the new chief of interpretation and education for Nez Perce National Historical Park, Whitman Mission National Historic Site and Big Hole National Battlefield. Law has been the education specialist at Glacier National Park since 2005. She has a master’s degree in science education and an undergraduate degree in natural resources with a focus on urban geography and native plant restoration. Before working at Glacier, Law taught middle school science in south Florida. She has worked for the NPS for more than 28 years. Laura starts her new job in February.


• U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, nominated 17 Central Washington high school students, including nine from the Tri-Cities, to U.S. military academies.

The nominees were vetted by a military service advisory board. The academies make the final determination. Three local students were nominated to more than one academy and Nicole Porcaro of Hanford High School was nominated to all three.

The Tri-City nominees are:

• U.S. Air Force Academy – Ryan Child (Kamiakin High School), Brooklyn Ford (Kennewick High School), Amanda Fraga (Hanford High School), Brendan Harkin (Kennewick High School), Sydney Kison (Hanford High School), Ashley Nies (Tri-Cities Prep School), Nicole Porcaro (Hanford High School) and Paige Raebel (Kennewick High School).

• U.S. Naval Academy – Nicole Porcaro (Hanford High School) and Nicolas Zito (Hanford High School).

• U.S. Military Academy – Amanda Fraga (Hanford High School), Nicole Porcaro (Hanford High School) and Nicholas Zito (Hanford High School).


• Yakima Federal Savings and Loan Association has announced the promotion of five employees who have demonstrated outstanding performance. 

They are:

Johnny Prado has been promoted to assistant vice president. Prado has 11 years of service and is manager of the Prosser branch office.

 Keegan Harris has been promoted to assistant vice president. Harris has five years of service and is the manager of the Yakima stadium branch.

Erianna Minter has been promoted to assistant vice president. Minter has 14 years of service and is manager of the mortgage loan operations department.

Kyle Harrington has been promoted to assistant vice president. Harrington has two years of service and is manager of the accounting department.

Kristen Mesner has been promoted to assistant secretary. Mesner has two years of service and will become manager of the Kennewick branch office in the coming months.

Yakima Federal Savings and Loan has been serving Central Washington since 1905 and has 10 branches throughout the region.


Shelley Kennedy, a certified financial planner, was elected to the board of directors of Fields of Grace. She is a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Richland. Fields of Grace is a local nonprofit that identifies and gathers fresh produce for area food banks and other food distribution points.

• The 2020 Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities board members were sworn in at its January meeting. They are Gary Questad (New Tradition Homes), president; Bryan Knapik (Ray Poland & Sons), vice president; Joel Tanasse (Fred’s Appliance), secretary/treasurer; Kyle LaPierre (LaPierre Enterprises Inc.), past president; directors Tristan Crandlemire (Sherwin Williams), Matt Mahany (Soft Water Specialists LLC), John Mattson (American Rock Products Inc.), Gene Rabung (Builders FirstSource), Rees Wasney, (Hayden Homes LLC); state directors Jennifer Kelly (J & J Kelly Construction Inc.), Knapik, Duane LaPierre (LaPierre Enterprises Inc.), Kyle LaPierre, LouAnne Neill (Neill Construction Services), Damian Padilla (Padilla Masonry Inc.), Don Pratt (Don Pratt Construction Inc.), Questad, Gene Rabung (Builders FirstSource) and Tanasse; and national directors are Duane and Kyle LaPierre.

• Lori Davis, a Hermiston city councilwoman since 2009, has been selected to serve on the National League of Cities Small Cities Council, which represents cities with a population under 50,000. Davis grew up in Hermiston, graduated from Hermiston High School and works at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. She was elected to the council for a third term in 2018. As a member of the Small Cities Council, Davis will help identify common trends across municipalities and develop policy options and responses for cities, towns and villages.

• Gov. Jay Inslee announced the appointments of 15 people to serve on Washington’s new LGBTQ Commission, including Jeffrey Robinson, Franklin County Democratic Committee; and Everett Maroon, Blue Mountain Heart to Heart in Walla Walla County. The commission, established by the state Legislature, was signed into law by Inslee in April 2019. The commission will identify the needs of the LGBTQ community and advocate for LGBTQ equity and inclusion in all aspects of state government. J. Manny Santiago, executive director of Rainbow Center in Tacoma, was named commission director in August.

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