Workers at the Packaging Corporation of America-owned mill in Wallula are being laid off and the plant will temporarily idle due to “economic conditions,” the company said in a statement.
The Illinois-based company expects to resume operations at the mill later this year. Its corrugated products facilities in Richland and Wallula aren’t affected and are operating with normal staffing.
The company didn’t confirm how many employees are affected by the layoffs, but it’s one of Walla Walla County’s largest employers with more than 450 workers.
Nationwide, PCA has 15,100 employees – 4,400 salaried and 10,700 hourly.
The company noted in its 2022 annual securities filing that demand for its products has declined nationwide as general economic conditions deteriorated. It said it continued to face inflation in several areas, including labor and benefits, chemical, energy, repairs, materials, supplies and transportation.
PCA is a leading producer of containerboard products and uncoated freesheet paper. It operates eight mills and 89 corrugated products manufacturing plants.
Applications are open for $1,000 grants through the Small Business Incentive Program.
The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Washington River Protection Solutions, or WRPS, are partnering to offer the grants to 30 small businesses through the program.
The application window closes at 5 p.m. June 2.
To apply, visit tricityregionalchamber.com/small-business-incentive-program.
A panel of judges will evaluate the applications and pick the recipients. The grants can be used on expenses including, but not limited to, marketing materials, IT equipment, website upgrades, staff training and development, furniture, point of sales upgrades, A/V equipment and other technology.
Since the program launched in 2011, it’s awarded $380,000 to small businesses.
Gesa Credit Union announced the launch of Gesa University, a free online resource that offers interactive financial literacy education courses.
Participants are provided with educational content that addresses common financial scenarios, such as buying a home, retirement, paying for higher education, and more.
Poor financial literacy levels in the U.S. are well-documented. According to a recent report from the National Financial Educators Council, the average amount lost by individuals in 2022 due to a lack of financial literacy was $1,819.
To take the online courses, go to gesauniversity.com. The six life courses available include personal finance, credit cards, buying a car, buying a home, paying for college and retirement.
All courses are available to the public, regardless of Gesa membership status.
The U.S. Postal Service is holding a job fair this month in the Yakima Valley.
It is from 1-4 p.m. May 18 at the Sunnyside WorkSource office, 1925 Morgan Road.
The hiring event is part of a statewide initiative to hire up to 1,000 new employees over the next few months. The need is especially urgent for mail carriers, clerks and mail handlers, the agency said.
Gesa Credit Union recently announced a partnership with Heritage University to launch a fundraising program benefiting the university through a new co-branded debit card.
Heritage is the fifth college in the state to join Gesa’s co-branded debit card program.
Launched in 2015, to date the program has raised more than $1 million for local partner school districts and universities, awarding more than $300,000 in 2022 alone.
Gesa also recently announced a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation for a “Forevergreen” affinity card that will raise funds for the foundation’s reforestation efforts in the Pacific Northwest.
Each time a co-branded debit card is used, Gesa will make a donation to the partner group.
There is no fee for members to switch their card.
A senior at Chiawana High School in Pasco won first place in the project management community awareness event at DECA’s International Career Development Conference.
Kaiya Bates faced off against more than 150 other students to win top prize in her category. She wrote a 20-page paper and gave a presentation in which she shared her mental health story and told how she created C.A.L.M. Kits for elementary schools in Pasco after receiving community donations.
Kaiya, who was also the 2022 Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen, is the first Chiawana High student to take the top place at the international conference.
“Kaiya worked so incredibly hard on both the event and competition and has made her entire DECA chapter and advisor team so proud,” said Leslie Bell, Chiawana’s DECA advisor, in a statement. “Kaiya achieved first place in the greatest of competitions and has inspired other DECA members to do their best and never give up. It warms my heart to see the difference Kaiya has made in her community and within herself. CHS DECA thanks Kaiya for her contributions to our program.”
This year’s conference was April 21-26 in Orlando, Florida. Nine students from Chiawana attended, joining more than 22,000 students from around the United States and beyond to participate in events that focused on entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
Several Chiawana students also earned gold standard school-based recognitions, including Meia Ng, Alex Osorio, Haileigh Morrison, Ava Duran, Jace Crawford, Casey Foster, Kenzie Gress and Kennedy McBride.
More than 1,200 skilled, temporary workers were hired locally and from across the country to support refueling and maintenance projects at Columbia Generating Station north of Richland. The extra workers join the plant’s normal workforce of about 1,000 employees.
Energy Northwest operators disconnected Columbia from the Northwest power grid as part of its 26th refueling outage on May 5.
The biennial refueling is an opportunity to add fresh nuclear fuel to Columbia’s reactor core, as well as perform maintenance projects that can be accomplished only when the reactor is offline.
The Northwest’s only nuclear power plant, which produced a record 9.8 million megawatt-hours in 2022, is scheduled to be offline for 35 days.
During the refueling outage, crews will swap out 248 of the 764 nuclear fuel assemblies in Columbia’s reactor core with new fuel. Fuel assemblies that have been in the reactor core for six years are removed and placed in Columbia’s used fuel pool, which removes residual heat. After a minimum of five years in the pool, the assemblies are moved to Columbia’s on-site dry-cask storage.
In addition to refueling, maintenance projects include inspecting the high-pressure turbine and moisture separator reheaters; replacing a reactor feedwater drive turbine and pump; replacing backup transformer oil circuit breakers; and various valve replacements, refurbishments and diagnostic testing. In all, regular and temporary employees will complete more than 7,500 work tasks.
Concerted, rigorous planning efforts begin two years prior to each refueling, and long-lead planning starts many years in advance.
Energy Northwest and the Bonneville Power Administration time the station’s 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 plant offline.
A former Pacific Northwest National Laboratory director who has served the community in a variety of ways was named the 2023 Tri-Citian of the Year.
Lura J. Powell joined as director of PNNL in Richland in 2000 and served for about two years. She previously worked as director of the Advanced Technology Program for the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington, D.C.
The Tri-Citian of the Year award, now in its 51st year, is given by the Tri-Cities’ Rotary and Kiwanis clubs to honor service to the community. It was presented April 27 during a banquet at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.
Powell’s community service includes working with Washington State University Board of Regents, Kadlec Regional Medical Center, United Way of Benton-Franklin Counties, Tri-City Industrial Development Council, Three Rivers Community Roundtable, Washington Technology Alliance Board, U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Council, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Board of Trustees, Bioengineering and Environmental Health Committee at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Chemical and Engineering News Advisory Board and the Junior Achievement of the Greater Tri-Cities Honorary Board.
Powell has a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Maryland.
The Benton County Veterans Therapeutic Court celebrated the graduation of its 49th and 50th veterans on May 2 in a ceremony at the Benton County Justice Center.
The program is voluntary and aims to “transform the lives of justice-involved veterans by reframing the traditional legal process through treatment and mentorship,” its mission statement says. The program provides judicial accountability, supervision, structure, mentorship and access to resources.
“I’m incredibly proud of the Veterans Court team. Through their support, 50 veterans have faced their demons and come out powerfully on the other side to resume their life of service to the country they love. It wasn’t easy, but these men and women are showing immense strength and courage and I am honored to be there to witness it,” said Benton County District Court Judge Dan Kathren, the program’s presiding judge, in a statement.
The program started in 2019 with six participants.
Veterans participate in mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment (if applicable), regular drug testing, community service, attend regular court appearances and are monitored closely. They’re also paired with a mentor through the Columbia Basin Veterans Center.
The program is paid for through the Benton County public safety sales tax.
Benton County commissioners plan to begin meeting once a month in Kennewick, rather than holding almost all of their weekly business meetings at the county seat in Prosser.
The change, which is expected to start around July, follows a new state law granting counties greater flexibility in where to hold commissioner meetings. The law was sponsored by state Sen. Perry Dozier and state Reps. Stephanie Barnard, April Connors and Skyler Rude.
Commissioner meetings currently are held at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Benton County Courthouse in Prosser and videocast to the county administration building in Kennewick.
People also can watch the meetings online.
Heartlinks has received $60,000 from the Board of Yakima County commissioners through the Yakima County American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to provide more no-cost grief support services to the community, including in Benton County.
Heartlinks will use the funds to increase family recovery through grief support services.
In addition to supporting the salaries of its two part-time grief support specialists, Heartlinks will use the grant to fund additional grief support groups, development of a new Blooming Hearts children’s grief program, community education workshops, advanced care planning seminars and a free monthly grief-support e-newsletter.
Heartlinks hosts five free, monthly grief support groups throughout Benton and Yakima counties. In Benton County, there are two grief support groups: the Tri-Cities group meets from 10:30-11:30 a.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Richland Community Center; and the Prosser group meets from 1-2 p.m. every second Tuesday of the month at the Prosser Community Center.
Contact Heartlinks at 509-837-1676, or go to HeartlinksHospice.org/Grief-Support.
Daily and Monthly NewsSign up now!