Benton County commissioners will begin meeting once a month in Kennewick starting Aug. 8.
Commissioner meetings are generally held at 9 a.m. Tuesdays at the Benton County Courthouse in Prosser. But a new state law grants more flexibility in meeting outside the county seat, and Benton County commissioners voted to switch one meeting a month to Kennewick to increase engagement.
The Kennewick meetings will be held the second Tuesday of the month at the Benton County Administration Building, 7122 W. Okanogan Place.
The Pasco City Council voted 4-3 in early June to allow the sale of retail cannabis within specific zoning districts.
The move lifts a previous ban and comes after a series of workshops, resolutions and council meetings.
The city ordinance restricts the number of cannabis retail outlets to three stores, with a possible fourth should it be a “social equity licensee.” The state Liquor and Cannabis Board restricts the number of licenses allowed.
Evergreen State Investments LLC’s Eric N. Larson and Thomas R. Platfoot applied in May for a cannabis retail license with a medical cannabis endorsement. The company plans to open Clear Mind Cannabis at 3221 W. Court St. Banner Bank sold this building to Medprop LLC in 2018 after owning it for 13 years, according to property records. Riverview Church of Christ also once owned the building.
The Port of Kennewick is adopting a hybrid work schedule.
That means that port staff will be working either on site or remotely from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays, but the port office at 350 Clover Island Drive in Kennewick will be staffed to serve the public in person from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Alternatives to in-person business include:
For invoicing or billing questions and/or meetings, call 509-586-1186 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington Governors University is offering a new scholarship aimed at adult learners who live in rural areas.
The Learn Where You Live Scholarship is valued at up to $3,000 and is available to new students or returning graduates, according to a statement from the university.
Recipients must live in an area of the country that’s designed as rural by the U.S. Census Bureau.
They’ll receive up to $750 per six-month term, renewable for up to four terms.
Tonya Drake, regional vice president of WGU, said the university is committed to increasing accessibility and opportunity for students regardless of their location, background, motivations or life situations.
“Many students want to go back to school and pursue higher education, but the cost and location can be overwhelming and deter many students from attending college,” she said in a statement.
Learn more about the scholarship and apply by June 30 at wgu.edu/financial-aid-tuition/scholarships/general/rural.html.
A $2.5 million funding award will help OCOchem and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to continue their work to make transporting clean hydrogen safer and more affordable.
The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The project is one of 22 from across the country to share in $42 million from DOE to “to advance critical technologies for producing, storing, transporting and deploying clean hydrogen, a non-polluting energy source,” according to a statement from OCOchem.
OCOchem is focused on making formic acid electrocatalytically from recycled carbon dioxide emissions, water and clean electricity, while PNNL is developing a way to safely release clean hydrogen from formic acid.
“The work builds on a partnership between the two entities funded by a 2020 DOE Technology Commercialization Fund grant and represents a significant milestone in the pursuit of a sustainable energy future,” the statement said.
Both OCOchem and PNNL are based in Richland.
OCOchem will use the money to enhance and increase the size of its carbon flux electrolyzer, and PNNL will create a hydrogen generator that releases hydrogen from the formic acid.
“The project aims to significantly improve the overall safety and cost profile of the hydrogen supply chain from production, storage, transport and use in various applications. By collaborating, OCOchem and PNNL aspire to make clean hydrogen technologies more economically viable, scalable and accessible for widespread adoption,” the statement said.
Both entities expect to have their technology ready for commercial use by 2025.
“The world needs a better way to make, store and use clean hydrogen as a clean fuel and clean feedstock to decarbonize industries and transportation,” said Todd Brixx, OCOchem CEO and co-founder, in the statement. “We’re making a liquid hydrogen carrier that enables us to more safely and more cost-effectively make and distribute clean hydrogen so it can be used in more places by more people. We are helping to create a circular carbon economy that stops the buildup of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and helps lower the cost of everyday products we consume and use. We are excited to continue working with PNNL and contribute to the local economy with these ground-breaking technologies.”
Pasco came in just behind Seattle and Spokane for the number of dog attacks on mail carriers.
There were 10 dog attacks on Pasco mail carriers in 2022, compared to Seattle and Spokane, which each recorded 13 attacks, according to recently released data from the U.S. Postal Service.
Washington state ranked No. 11 among the top 25 states for dog bites on mail carriers, with a total of 136 reported incidents in 2022.
There were more than 5,300 dog bites/incidents against postal employees nationwide last year.
“We ask our letter carriers, as well as our valued customers, to be vigilant and remain on high alert with regards to the potential of unsafe dog interactions,” said Donald Kravos, Washington acting district manager in a statement.
Benton County will close a section of Reata Road to add a turn lane and install utilities from June 15-23. The project will be on the city of Richland’s side of Reata.
The road will be closed at the Interstate 82 overpass on the north side to Badger View Road on the south.
Road crews will have a detour in place, which will include Sagebrush Road as well as South Bermuda Road.
For the second time in a year, a Yakima Valley irrigation district is facing fines for not protecting workers from the dangers of trenching.
The Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District (SVID) delivers irrigation water to landowners in Benton and Yakima counties. The district is facing $168,000 in penalties for unsafe trenching practices – the same violations the Department of Labor and Industries cited the district for last October.
SVID is appealing the citation.
At an irrigation district job site in December, a state inspector found and photographed workers inside a trench deeper than 4 feet, with no safe way to get out and no protective box or shield to prevent a cave-in. There was also an excavated soil pile near the edge of the trench, adding weight and increasing the danger of collapse.
The employer removed the workers from the trench but refused to give inspectors full access to the site. Labor and Industries officials returned with a warrant and opened the inspection, interviewing workers who had been in the trench the day the inspector observed the hazards.
Any trench 4 feet or deeper must have protection like braced, sloped, or benched walls; and workers must have an easy way to get in and out of the trench safely, like a ramp or ladder, the agency said.
In September, SVID was issued four serious citations for the same types of violations. At the time, they were required to provide training for their workers on trenching safety.
In this most recent case, the state cited the district with four willful serious violations.
Penalties paid in connection with a citation are placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping those who have been seriously injured and the families of those who have died on the job.
A Sunnyside mushroom farm will pay $3.4 million to resolve a lawsuit asserting unfair, deceptive and discriminatory actions against female farmworkers and Washington-based workers.
The state Attorney General’s office said it will use all of the money to pay farmworkers affected by Ostrom Mushroom Farm’s illegal conduct. It estimates more than 170 farmworkers are eligible for compensation.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the lawsuit in Yakima County Superior Court in August 2022, after an investigation by his office revealed that Ostrom had been discriminating against its workers for over a year based on their sex and immigration status.
Ostrom was accused of firing its largely female and Washington-based workforce and replacing them with male foreign guest workers hired through the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program, in violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
Ferguson’s office alleges Ostrom invented reasons to discipline, terminate and refuse employment to these workers. Ostrom also placed job advertisements that misrepresented work requirements and wages, in violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.
When workers complained about the unlawful treatment, Ostrom retaliated against the employees who spoke up.
While the lawsuit was still pending, Ostrom sold its mushroom facility to Windmill Farms, which is now operating the farm. The court order requires Windmill Farms to take measures designed to protect employees from any future misconduct.
Workers wanting to be part of the claims process, may contact the civil rights division by emailing email@example.com or by calling 1-833-660-4877, and selecting option 5.
A National Association of Manufacturers survey revealed growing concerns over “the onslaught of unbalanced federal regulations and the threat that poses to sustaining manufacturing investment, job creation and wage growth,” a statement from the group said.
The Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the second quarter of 2023 found that:
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