The Hanford visitor center is remaining open to the public and will continue to provide visitor services during the federal government shutdown. The visitor center for the Manhattan Project National Historic Park at 2000 Logston Blvd. in Richland is operated through a Department of Energy contract.
National Park Service social media and websites are not being monitored or updated and many NPS parks have been closed to the public during the shutdown.
Washington nonfarm employment increased by 5,100 jobs in November, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private sector jobs increased by 6,400 while the public sector lost 1,300 jobs.
Washington’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November was 4.3 percent. That is just slightly less that 4.7 percent in November the previous year. Overall, for the same 12 months, 103,500 jobs were added statewide.
Benton County had a 5 percent unemployment rate in November compared with 4.4 percent the month prior and 5.1 percent in November 2017. Franklin County sat at 5.8 percent for November, compared with 4.6 percent in October and 6 percent for November 2017.
Children can now to return to play in a portion of the Playground of Dreams at Columbia Park in Kennewick, thanks to a $75,000 donation by the Tri-City Water Follies Association. The original nearly 20-year-old wood structure was torn down last fall to make way for a modern, safer and inclusive playground.
The donation helped complete the first phase, which includes a hydroplane toy, and kicks off a capital campaign to raise $482,000 to complete the second half of the project.
When complete, the new playground will include features representing iconic Tri-City landmarks such as the cable bridge, lighthouse and Lampson crane, in addition to a musical instrument, zip track and climbing features.
Components will be connected by ramps and will accessible to children of all abilities, including those in wheelchairs.
Individuals can support the rebuild by buying $10 wristbands, $100 commemorative lapel pins, and $250 “dream medals” that can be inscribed with a name or personal message and will be affixed to the pillars at the playground entrance. They are available at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex and Kennewick Community Center, and online soon at KennewickRecreation.com.
The Department of Ecology recently approved Sandvik Special Metals LLC’s request to Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency to handle its waste as solid waste instead of dangerous waste, or a process called delisting.
This will allow the Kennewick metal tube manufacturing facility to dispose its wastewater treatment sludge, or filter cake, in a solid waste landfill. Sandvik collected data showing that its filter cake waste does not contain enough harmful chemicals to be considered dangerous. The approval of the petition for delisting includes specific requirements for maintaining the delisting exclusion, including testing conditions for waste generated in the future.
Columbia Basin College’s surgical technology program has received the annual merit award from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting for achieving a 90 percent pass rate on the certified surgical technologist, or CST, examination during the 2017-18 academic year.
The national pass rate for the exam is about 78, according to the board.
CBC’s one-year surgical technology program trains students in the skills necessary to assist in surgical care for patients.
Each of CBC’s 2018 program graduates who sought employment landed full-time surgical technology positions.
For more information about the program, call 509-544-8300 or visit columbiabasin.edu/surgicaltechnology.
Washington ranks among the best states for workplace safety and health, reported the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The state had the ninth-lowest occupational injury rate in the nation in 2017 with its workplace fatality rate about 30 percent below that national average.
There were 84 workplace deaths in Washington in 2017, or 2.5 per 100,000 full-time workers, with 15 of those being in construction. Nationally, occupations with high ranking of having dangerous workplaces include farming, fishing and forestry and transportation.
A longtime radiology group based in Richland that’s served as the provider for Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland for 36 years has merged with a Spokane-based company.
Columbia Basin Imaging and Inland Imaging PS have combined, effective Jan. 1.
The merger, first announced in March and expected to be completed in September, was delayed to the start of the year due to technical difficulties with information technology and accounting officials preferring a Jan. 1 start date for benefits, said Dr. Richard Nguyen, former president of Columbia Basin Imaging.
The merged group will employ nearly 100 radiologists, making it one of the largest professional radiology practices in the western United States, according to a news release from Inland Imaging.
The combined group will practice regionally under the Inland Imaging brand, with Kadlec Regional Medical Center serving as its primary location in the Columbia Basin area.
“The joining of our two groups allows us to better connect clinically between eastern and southeast Washington,” said Dr. Jayson Brower, president of Inland Imaging, in a news release. “The synergy created by this combination enhances our ability to improve productivity and cost efficiency while delivering an enhanced level of patient care through hyper-subspecialization and standardization across a larger region.”
Columbia Basin Imaging was the exclusive radiology provider for Kadlec Regional Medical Center since 1983. The busy practice interpreted about 300,000 studies, or imaging results, annually.
The merger means expanded and coordinated radiology services for patients and health care providers while positioning the group for the ongoing evolution of the health care system, according to the news release.
“By expanding our geographic footprint to more closely match that of our important health system partners, we are able to generate more effective new ways to deliver services,” said Inland Imaging CEO Steve Duvoisin. “It allows us to see the region’s health care resources in a more global and holistic way. That broader point of view helps us imagine new ways to raise our quality and efficiency while holding down costs by serving more patients around the region.”
Inland Imaging has operated in Spokane since 1930. The practice’s radiologists serve outpatient imaging centers, urban and rural medical centers, hospitals, clinics and private practices in western, central and eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana.
In addition, the group’s radiologists own Nuvodia, a full service, 110-employee national IT company, and Inland Imaging Business Associates, a company that provides various business services to radiology and health care clients throughout the Northwest.
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler fined Dental Health Services $500,000 for a number of violations.
The Seattle-based dental insurer was fined for failing to identify and process 23 policy holders’ appeals and 342 policyholders’ grievances; erroneously canceling policies; double-charging 492 policy holders; and failing to deliver enrollment materials to nearly 80 policy holders.
In addition, Kreidler is prohibiting the company from selling any new policies for 12 months. The company can seek permission to sell policies again after the probation period if it completes compliance and corrective action. Action was taken by the commissioner’s office previously in 2017 and 2018 as well.
Kadlec Foundation, which supports programs, equipment and capital projects at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, received more than $750,000 in donators and sponsor gifts in 2018.
“Because of Kadlec’s unique status as the only not-for-profit hospital and health care system in the Tri-Cities, donors can be assured that Kadlec Foundation offers a great way to invest in the current and future health care needs of our community,” said Rebecca Thornton, philanthropy officer, in a news release.
The donations were used to:
More than 222,000 customers signed up for a 2019 health plan through Washington Healthplanfinder, Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange.
About 20,000 fewer people signed up, compared to 2018, by the Dec. 15 deadline, but the enrollment period for this year’s plan was a month less than the previous year. The last two days of the six-week enrollment period had enrollment by 11,000 people.
Special Olympics Washington is inviting the public to take a jump in cold water during Polar Plunge fundraising events across the state.
This year’s Tri-Cities Polar Plunge will be at noon Jan. 19 at Columbia Point Marina in Richland. Pre-registration and a $10 fee are required to reserve a spot. Event day registration begins at 9 a.m.
For more information and to register, go to http://bit.ly/2Rc8veO.
Junior Achievement is holding training sessions for those interested in volunteering in classrooms with students to offer students skills and knowledge for economic success.
Information and training sessions will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Jan. 25 at the Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive, and from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 29 at PayneWest Insurance, 390 Bradley Blvd., Richland.
For more information, call Elizabeth Jones at 509-783-7222 or go to jawashingtonsewa.org
Washington is to receive $16 million from Wells Fargo as part of a deal with all 50 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia over issues regarding retail sales practices, auto collateral protection insurance, guaranteed asset/auto protection and mortgage interest rate lock matters.
The company has been working with federal regulators and as part of the agreement it will pay a total of $575 million to resolve civil claims.
The Tri-City Development Council is planning its 20th annual Tri-Cities Regional Economic Outlook meeting next month.
The meeting will be from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at TRAC, 6600 Burden Blvd., Pasco. The keynote speaker will be Richard Herbert, institutional portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton Investments.
Guest speakers will include Roger Snyder for a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory outlook, Brian Vance for a Department of Energy update and Ajsa Suljic for a regional economic outlook.
Cost is $75 for the day, $25 for lunch only for TRIDEC members and $35 for others, or $540 for a group of eight.
For more information and to register, go to http://bit.ly/2Ffpaa6.
The vit plant, or Hanford Tank Waste and Immobilization Plant, at the Hanford nuclear reservation north of Richland has moved four utility buildings from construction into a startup and testing phase that is scheduled for completion this year.
The buildings are part of 56 systems that support the Department of Energy’s plan to treat tank waste at the Hanford site by 2023. The four buildings include:
Washington State University Tri-Cities is holding a fundraiser lunch to benefit the Carson College of Business at the Richland campus.
The Point to Success lunch will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 9 at Anthony’s, 550 Columbia Point Drive, Richland.
Tim Hanni, wine expert and author of “Why You Like the Wines You Like,” will be the featured speaker, and KNDU news anchor Tracci Dial will be the master of ceremonies. Tickets are $100 per person and include mimosas, food and a live auction. To register, go to tricities.wsu.edu/ccbbrunch.
For more information, contact Maria Luisa Rodriguez at 509-372-7132 or email@example.com.
STCU credit union is warning consumers that it received information that scammers have been targeting individuals with official-looking, but fake, emails that ask consumers to log into their STCU account.
The link provided in the phishing email takes them to a website that mimics STCU’s site. Emails can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org to help the credit union track the fraud.
Those who are interesting in learning more about preventing identify theft and fraud may attend free STCU workshops from 6 to 7 p.m. March 28 at the Kennewick Community Center, 500 S. Auburn St., and from 6 to 7 p.m. April 18 at the Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive.
Ben Franklin Transit launched the first of three interim services, following the abrupt closure of the contractor Tri-City Taxi that provided taxi feeder service, night service and Sunday taxi service.
The interim service called Finley General Demand will offer pre-scheduled pickups at 33 designated stop locations. The service will utilize Dial-A-Ride vehicles and drivers, and customers will then be transported to four connection points in Kennewick to access the bus system.
Customers must by reservations at least one day in advance by calling 877-646-4287 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Service hours are 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays. Cost will be $1 each way, or a BFT Freedom Pass, which costs $50 for unlimited use of BFT, also may be used.
Until BFT finds a third-party contractor to restore services, it also will temporarily add expanded services in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland in February and extended operating hours in March.
For more information, go to bft.org.
Columbia Generating Station north of Richland produced more clean, nuclear energy for the Northwest power grid in 2018 than any other year in its 34-year history. It sent more than 9.7 million megawatt-hours of electricity to the grid, surpassing the previous generation record set in 2016 (9.6 million MWhrs). Columbia has set new generation records five out of the last seven years.
At a five-year average of 7.25 cents per kilowatt-hour, Washington state has the lowest cost of retail electricity in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Energy Northwest estimates Columbia’s cost of power will average 4.2 cents per kilowatt-hour during its 2018-19 fuel cycle, down from 6.3 cents, adjusted for inflation, during its 2010-11 cycle. Columbia refuels every two years, resulting in higher cost of power during refueling years and lower cost during non-refueling, full-run years. As a result, generation costs are measured in two-year averages.
Benton PUD is offering LED nightlights to customers who make donations to the Benton PUD’s Helping Hands Program.
Customers who pledge a recurring at least a monthly $1 donation, increase their currently monthly donation or make a one-time donation of $10 or more are eligible to receive the nightlight while supplies last. The lights must be picked up in person at Benton PUD offices at 2721 W. 10th Ave in Kennewick or 250 N. Gap Road in Prosser.
The Helping Hands Program provides assistance to those meeting guidelines who need help on their bill and is distributed by Communication Action Connections.
Walla Walla Community College’s Institute for Enology and Viticulture is holding a workshop, “Marketing Wine to Millennials” from noon to 5 p.m. March 8 at 3020 E. Isaacs Ave., Walla Walla. Cost is $32, which includes a post-workshop reception.
Topics and speakers include:
The Benton Rural Electric Association will be holding its annual meeting outside of Prosser for the first time since its inception in 1937.
The annual members meeting will be July 13 at Enterprise Middle School in West Richland. About 60 percent of members live in or around West Richland — a significant historical change.
The meeting will feature an appreciation lunch, children’s games and activities as well as tethered rides on a hot air balloon. More details will be released in June.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, to transfer title of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation related works and lands to the Kennewick Irrigation District.
The legislation will transfer title of works beginning at KID’s head gate and extending 40 miles east to the Columbia River. The transfer includes the conveyance of land and project facilities and should be completed no later than two years after the enactment. H.R. 6652 must now be approved by the Senate.
Thanks to an Alamo Bowl win by the Cougars, Olympia’s Thurston County Food Bank should be expecting a shipment of Iowa bacon and other pork products.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds wagered as Washington State University and Iowa State University football teams faced off in the Alamo Bowl in December. The No. 1 apple grower in the U.S. also became the No. 1 team as the Cougars beat the Cyclones 28-26.
Vande Rose Farms and Lynch Family Foundation in Iowa will send the meat to the food bank for those in need. Had Iowa prevailed, Inslee pledged a feast of Ivar’s clam chowder to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.
Inslee didn’t stop there. He also made a friendly wager with North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum over the North Dakota University Bison vs. Eastern Washington University Eagles rivalry in the NCAA Division I Championship game.
After a 38-24 Bison win over the Eagles, a shipment of Washington treats including apples from Hansen Fruit and Fuji Apple, lavender soda from Dry Soda Company and candy from the home of Applets and Cotlets — Liberty Orchards — will be sent to North Dakota’s Great Plains Food Bank. Burgum’s pledge of pretzels, honey and bison steaks will instead stay in their home state following the football team’s seventh title win in eight years.
Washington’s unemployment tax rates in 2019 will remain the same as in 2018, said the Employment Security Department.
Rates in all 40 tax classes will remain the same. About 83 percent of employers will move into a lower rate class or stay the same. Employers will pay unemployment taxes on the first $49,800 of each employee’s earnings. For an employee earning $49,800 or more, the total tax for the year will range from $64 to $2,849.
The state’s minimum wage increased to $12 starting with the new year for workers 16 and older following the passage of Initiative 1433 in 2016.
Employers can pay 85 percent of the minimum wage to those younger than 16. Washington law also does not allow tips to count toward a worker’s minimum wage. Next year, the minimum wage will increase to $13.50. Sea-Tac,
Seattle and Tacoma all have their own minimum wages separate from the state rate.
Those interesting in boosting their start-up company plans can participate in the Prosser Economic Development Association’s Mustang Business Plan Competition.
The free event, which is open to the public, is at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center, 2140 Wine Country Road, Prosser.
A panel of judges will score the presentations of start-up company business plans based upon concept, business model, marketing and financial analysis. Students will win prizes and learn how to start their own business. The competition is open to individuals or teams.
For more information, contact Doug Fassler at 509-786-1224 or email@example.com.
Serve Washington is seeking nominations for volunteers who stand out in communities throughout the state.
Awards will honor individuals, groups and organizations that made a significant contribution to their communities in 2018. Honorees will be recognized at a ceremony on April 12 at the Governor’s mansion in Olympia.
Nominations are being accepted until
5 p.m. Feb. 8. For more information and to nominate a volunteer, go to servewashington.wa.gov.
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