The Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo donated $2,174 to Second Harvest Tri-Cities in honor of Hunger Awareness Week. The contribution is equivalent to providing 13,044 pounds of food to those in need in the Tri-Cities area. The donation results from the fair’s initiative of donating $2 from each adult admission ticket sold on opening day. The Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo has contributed the equivalent of 143,000 pounds of food to Second Harvest over the past 15 years.
Columbia Industries received $8,374 from local Dutch Bros coffee owners. The coffee stand owners donated $1 from every beverage sold on Oct. 27, and the proceeds support Columbia Industries’ nonprofit mission of empowering those with disabilities and other barriers. The funds help to provide recreational respite services via CI Community Center, vocational food service training via Opportunity Kitchen and employment services and job placement via CI Employment Services.
Second Harvest hosted its eighth annual turkey drive for people facing hunger in the Mid-Columbia and Yakima Valley. The nonprofit distributed 1,000 holiday meal boxes, which included food for a complete Thanksgiving meal, and U-Pull-It Auto Parts provided $15,000 in matching funds for community donations. Lamb Weston sponsored the event and other sponsors provided food, funds and time to help families facing financial challenges.
UScellular donated $1,000 worth of equipment to Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties to support their cooking club. The club received kitchen appliances and tools, including an air-fryer, standing mixer, food processor and vegetable chopper. This donation is one of 40 UScellular donations to nonprofits across the country in honor of the company’s 40th anniversary.
• Gesa Credit Union awarded more than $410,000 in grants to 42 organizations across Washington state this year as part of its Local Heroes Grant Program. The program provides grants to organizations in the state of Washington in the categories of firefighters, law enforcement, educators, health care workers and veterans. Local grant recipients include:
Educators: Basin City Elementary Library, Highland Middle School, Kingspoint Christian School, Washington State University Tri-Cities.
Health care workers: Columbia Basin College Foundation, Trios Health – Education Department.
Firefighters: Benton Fire District 2.
Law enforcement: Port of Pasco Police Department, West Richland Police Department.
Veterans: Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 11-6A, Service Peace Warriors.
Community Health Plan of Washington has distributed its $250,000 Advancing Equity Fund to 25 community-based organizations serving immigrant, refugee, Indigenous and Native communities in Washington State. CHPW is a not-for-profit offering Apple Health (Medicaid), Medicare Advantage and Individual & Family Plans, and its Advancing Equity Fund was established to organizations that provide services to people from minority communities who often experience the greatest health disparities. Among the recipients of this fund are Lutheran Community Services NW and World Relief, which serve the Tri-Cities area.
Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels received a $9,300 grant from Battelle, which will be used to fund professional translators, improving access to essential meal delivery services. Meals on Wheels provides meals for individuals age 60 and over in Benton and Franklin counties. The organization will be able to bolster its language translation services through this grant.
Ron Mabry of Kennewick has been elected to the Washington State Board of Education for Eastern Washington, Position 1, previously held by MJ Bolt. Mabry attended North Carolina A&T State University and completed college while serving in the U.S. Navy. He received an MBA from City College in Seattle and a master’s in environmental science from Washington State University. Mabry is currently the waste field services manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He is also a former president of the Washington State School Directors’ Association. He joined the Kennewick School Board in 2011 and his current term ends Dec. 31.
Meier Architecture and Engineering has hired Max Elliott as a structural engineer and project manager. Elliott has seven years of experience in the structural engineering field, including commercial, agricultural, religious and residential structural design. He also has experience in machine design and general facility planning. Elliott has been involved with the design of new structures as well as modification of existing structures.
Gastro Health in Kennewick has hired Dr. Amber Charoen, a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and gastroenterology. She completed medical school at Rangsit University in Thailand and her residency at the MetroWest Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine. Charoen pursued a fellowship in gastroenterology at the Rhode Island Hospital/Brown University, from which she received an exemplary teaching award and the Joseph A. DiMase Brown University Gastroenterology Research Award. She previously served as an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her expertise encompasses GI upper endoscopy, colonoscopy screening, capsule endoscopy and women’s digestive health.
Dr. Mahakit Inklab has joined the Sunnyside-based Astria Health’s Cancer Care team. He has more than 18 years of experience as a hematologist/oncologist. Inklab graduated from Chulalongkorn University, Faculty of Medicine, and completed a residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He completed his hematology/oncology fellowship at Baystate Medical Center – Tufts University School of Medicine. Inklab previously worked with Astria Health as a hematologist/oncologist and is now a permanent member of the medical staff.
Arts Center Task Force has hired two new staff members. Amber Maiden is the new operations director, and Riley Osborn is the development and outreach coordinator.
Maiden has six years of experience in the nonprofit sector in marketing, communications, program management and event coordination. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations from Eastern Washington University and has worked with Visit Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities Water Follies, city of Kennewick Parks and Recreation, and Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership.
Osborn holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations from Eastern Washington University. She has a professional background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. She was involved with Joya Child and Family Development’s annual Spring Gala and silent auction and served on the committee for YWCA of Spokane Women of Achievement event.
Dr. Kim Vanatta, doctor of osteopathic medicine,has joined Prosser Memorial Health’s Benton City clinic, performing internal medicine services. She earned her associate degree from Columbia Basin College, received bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and biology from the University of Washington and earned her medical degree at Pacific Northwest University of Health. Vanatta completed her residency at Trios Health and went on to work as an internal medicine physician with Tri-Cities Community Health.
Dr. Jarrett Hamilton has joined Trios Health as a foot and ankle surgeon. He will see patients at the Trios Care Center at Southridge for general podiatry, ankle joint pain and instability, arthritis, diabetic wounds, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures of the foot and more. Originally from Mesa, Arizona, he earned his medical degree from the California College of Podiatric Medicine in Oakland, California. He was co-chief resident and completed his surgical residency at Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center/Southern California Kaiser Permanente, in Encino, California. He is board-certified by the American Board of Foot & Ankle Surgery and has been a practicing podiatrist since 2007.
Cherilyn Montee has joined Columbia Industries as the director of human resources. She has 15 years of professional HR experience and was key to launching an AutoZone distribution center in 2016. Additionally, Montee led a People with Abilities program within the distribution center and helped create more than 300 jobs in the Tri-Cities. She also serves on the board as the secretary for the Columbia Basin Chapter of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management).
Helen Robison has joined the occupational medicine team at Prosser Memorial Health. She brings decades of health care experience, including time as a military medic. Robison is a graduate of South Dakota State University and University of South Dakota and is certified in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support and as a Department of Transportation medical examiner. She previously worked at Hanford, providing basic occupational health care. In her new role, she will care for patients beyond diagnoses and referral, helping them through treatment and healing.
Christopher Monk, advanced registered nurse practitioner, has returned to work at Heartlinks in palliative care. He previously worked with Heartlinks from October 2020 to December 2022. Monk has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Clarkson College, as well as a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in nursing from the University of Nebraska. He also ran the Nebraska State Tuberculosis Program for three years, helping patients with allergies and asthma as well as working in vascular surgery.
AWARDS & HONORS
The Richland Rotary Club recently awarded six Entrepreneurial Awards to companies who have shown an exemplary spirit of entrepreneurial success. The recipients are: Atomic Escape Rooms (Julianne Wright), nominated by TRIDEC; Summers Hub of Kennewick (Chris Corbin), nominated by Tri-Cities Regional Chamber of Commerce; Sister to Sister on the Ave (M’Liss Bierlink), nominated by the Port of Benton; LiveGrow Bio (Andrey Pinchuck), nominated by Fuse; TETO Eco Wash (Hector Rodriguez), nominated by Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Sonar Insights (Sonny Virakpanyou & Aaron Welling), nominated by Benton-Franklin Workforce Development Council.
The Sam Volpentest Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, or Sammy, is presented to an individual who has shown true entrepreneurial leadership in the community and who has contributed to the success of this region. This year’s winner is Washington State University Tri-Cities Chancellor Sandra Haynes, who has been directly involved with workforce development programs, is a part of the Clean Energy Ambassadors Network, has won two diversity and equity awards and the Inclusive Energy Innovation prize, and supports Cougar Tracks, a pathway to professional development and lifelong learning.
American Bankerhas released a list of The Most Powerful Women in Credit Unions. Among the 15 women is STCU’s Lindsey Myhre, who started at the credit union as an accountant assistant 23 years ago. When she joined STCU, there were 70,000 members and $388 million in total assets. Now, she is the chief financial officer and executive vice president of the credit union, which has $5.8 billion in total assets, 38 branch locations and over 270,000 members. As CFO, Myhre is responsible for financial leadership, and as EVP, she guides the development and implementation of STCU’s vision, mission and goals. She also serves as the chief human resources officer, driving employee engagement.
The Association of Washington Business honored employers in 10 categories at their annual Evening of Excellence awards ceremony. Energy Northwest won the Washington Veterans and Families Award, which recognizes employers who have developed and applied hiring and retention best practices for addressing employment challenges faced by veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses. Energy Northwest employs about 30% military veterans and provides apprenticeships, on-the-job training programs and career mentoring to its veteran employees. Christensen Inc. was a finalist for the Excellence in Family-Owned Business award, which is given to a family-owned business that is setting the standard for excellence and success by growing the business while serving their communities.
Advaitha Motkuri, a junior at Richland High School, was named a 2024 Washington State delegate to the American Junior Academy of Science. Eleven students in the state were selected based on original STEM research they conducted while in high school. Advaitha’s project, “AmEyeDrunk? The Future of Intoxication Detection,” included the development of an app which allows individuals to assess their level of intoxication based on a ratio of the diameter of the small and big circles in their eyes. The app also gives an option to call an emergency contact or a rideshare company for a ride home if intoxication is detected. As a Washington state delegate, Advaitha will attend the AJAS annual conference held in February, where she can share her research, attend conference sessions, tour local scientific institutions and be inducted as a lifetime Fellow into the AJAS.
Courtney Smith, a member of the Hanford site workforce, is among the 36 “Rising Stars of Safety,” all professionals under 40, highlighted by the National Safety Council for demonstrating exceptional safety leadership. Smith is an occupational safety and industrial hygiene program manager with EM Richland Operations Office contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo). She was nominated in part for her role in designing and implementing CPCCo’s all-employee Health & Mission Ready Program. Smith also leads CPCCo’s partnership with the Safety & Health Management Program at Central Washington University.
Carla Cicero, president and chief executive officer of Numerica Credit Union, has been named 2023’s Outstanding Chief Executive by the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES). She was recognized by CUES for building a culture of success, being a people-first leader and championing Numerica’s growth. In the 12 years that she has led Numerica, the credit union has added eight branches, grown to over $3.7 billion in assets and contributed more than $13 million to the communities it serves. Cicero leads 660 employees across 21 branches, and for three years Numerica has received the Raddon Crystal Performance Award, an honor reflective of the credit union’s financial strength. Numerica has also been named the No. 1 Best Place to Work in the Inland Northwest each year since 2021.
Kimberly Edwards, a registered nurse at Lourdes Surgical Specialists, has been named a recipient of The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses at Lourdes Health. She was nominated by a staff member for her diligent follow-up with a post operative patient, going above and beyond to check in on a patient. The nomination also mentioned her ability to be a team player and continuously teach others about compassionate patient care. The DAISY Award is an international program created to express gratitude to nurses.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has received Silver Status Membership with International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA). It is the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest and its brand, A to Z Wineworks and affiliated brand Red Hill, received its Silver Status Membership with IWCA last year, the first for an Oregon winery. IWCA’s objective is for all members to commit to reducing their emissions, improving land stewardship, protecting biodiversity and being a socially responsible business. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has worked hard over the past year to farm sustainably, cut down on emissions by reducing the weight of standard glass bottles, adopt alternative packaging and improve waste management.
Carmichael Middle School in Richland School District is now a Richland Heart Safe Campus. Carmichael staff were trained in hands-only CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) use this summer by Josh Smith, fire captain for Richland Fire and Emergency Services, and his team. The school held an emergency medical drill to complete their certification and are now trained to recognize and respond to any cardiac arrest emergency at the school. Carmichael will become the model for other Richland schools to receive their certifications, according to the new Heart Safe initiative led by district lead nurses Rebecca Baldwin and Brenda Atencio, and Assistant Director of Human Resources Kellie Lacey.
Marco Espinoza has been promoted to branch manager of Numerica Credit Union’s Gage branch at 8551 W. Gage Blvd. in Kennewick. Espinoza previously served as manager of Numerica’s float department, and he brings nearly a decade of financial industry experience. In his new role, he will work to create an environment emphasizing each member’s financial wellness.