This year’s inductees to the Mid-Columbia Agriculture Hall of Fame will be honored at a Jan. 19 dinner and ceremony at the Red Lion Hotel & Conference Center in Pasco.
In its 22nd year, the Hall of Fame honors Mid-Columbia farmers, families and agribusiness leaders in Franklin County and its neighboring counties.
The new inductees are recognized by their peers for not only their dedication, generosity and selflessness, but also their demonstrated achievements, noteworthy expertise and creative innovations that often provide a legacy of impactful results and lasting benefit to the local agricultural industry and community.
John Williams and Jim Holmes planted the vineyard on what would become the Red Mountain American Viticulture Area, or AVA, in 1975. Today, the 4,000-acre wine-growing region is championed as one of the best places in the world to grow red wine grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. They also were instrumental in the formation and early organization of the first AVA, Yakima Valley.
One of the first wineries in Washington State, Kiona Vineyards and Winery is still in operation today. Holmes sold the Williams family his share in 1994.
Williams and Holmes also were the second inaugural inductees into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame.
Jean Smith served as the Benton-Franklin Area Extension livestock educator from 1980 to 2009. She was active in the local, state and national organization, both as an extension educator and as a volunteer. After her retirement, she continued her volunteerism. Smith was recognized as a valuable resource and often was interviewed or asked for reference materials on livestock-related issues.
When Zenaido “Sam” Martinez finished third grade, his family left their tiny family farm called “El Rancho La Buena Fe” in Los Angeles, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and began migrating throughout the United States working on farms. In 1959, he married Angélica and began a family. Sam found work with Ray and Lucile Bailey in Mesa, where the couple’s family grew rapidly. Ray would give Sam a 25-cent raise when each new child was born.
By 1965, Sam and Angelica had saved enough money to buy his first potato truck, a gas powered 10-wheeler. He continued to work for the Baileys, driving a potato digger. His wife Angélica, drove their first potato truck, hauling potatoes to the sheds. Time progressed and little by little, they were able to eventually buy 12 trucks. Later, they bought 250 acres at Colonial and Sheffield roads near Basin City.
The transition from laborer to landowner, business owner and a respected community member takes vision, determination and hard work and the Martinez family demonstrated all of these. They valued farm life, the ag community and taught their children to work hard, dream big and be a light in the community.
The Martinezes recognized the Columbia Basin farming community as the land of opportunity. They worked tirelessly to make it a better place today and for all who those who follow them.
Butch and Judy Wiswall’s passion for agriculture and the community is no secret to those in Franklin County. They possess a passion about giving the next generation an opportunity in agriculture. The Wiswalls have been active in many organizations, committing their time and effort to groups such as 4-H, Benton Franklin Fair Stock Market, Star School District, Cattleman’s Association and Wheat Growers Association, just to name a few.
Farmers, growers, ranchers and owners/employees of agribusiness firms are all eligible for nomination as either individuals and/or families.
To see past inductees, go to pascochamber.org/ag-hall-of-fame-inductees.html.
The Ag Hall of Fame reception begins at 5 p.m. Jan. 19 with the dinner and program starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel & Conference Center, 2525 N. 20th Ave. in Pasco.
Tickets cost $75 apiece, or $525 for a table for eight. Reservations must be made by 10 p.m. Jan. 16.
The event is sponsored by the Pasco Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Pasco.
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