Articles by Audra Distifeno

Audra Distifeno has been in the "news" business for more than 20 years. She is passionate about writing, and is also an educator with the goal of igniting young minds so they might discover their potentials. She lives in the Yakima Valley with her children, two mini schnauzers, two lizards and multitudes of fish. She enjoys camping, kayaking and breathing in the ocean air. She hopes to one day be a published novelist and see her work being read by the masses ... or even by just one who is moved by her story.
Bob Rosselli, left, interim CEO of Columbia Industries, stands with the Kennewick nonprofit’s new CEO, Brian McDermott, who joined the agency on Dec. 4. The 54-year-old agency focuses on helping people with disabilities. (Courtesy Columbia Industries)

Columbia Industries closes year with new vision, new CEO

The past six months have been a flurry of activity at Columbia Industries with the creation of a new vision and hiring a new CEO to execute it. “We’ve spent the past six months reinventing ourselves,” said interim CEO Bob Rosselli, who has volunteered and served three terms, or 18 years, on the nonprofit’s board…

Allyson Hayes, left, a sales associate for Ariel, meets with Karen Livas, small business programs director for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Jessica Stangeland, a regional chamber board member. The chamber officials were delivering Small Business Saturday promotional materials to chamber members at The Parkway in Richland. (Courtesy Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce)

Experts forecast robust holiday shopping season across state

Chamber officials, Tri-City retailers remind shoppers to think local Locally-owned Tri-City retailers hope shoppers will “think small” when picking out their holiday gifts this year. “We expect a really great holiday season. Retail is up about three percent nationwide, so it’s doing well. People are spending more money in shops and definitely supporting small business,”…

Rick Ornstein, owner of The Educated Cigar & Wine in Richland, originally opened as a dot-com business, shipping premium and ultra-premium cigars around the world. Since Washington laws have become more “taxing,” however, he shares a building with Atomic Bowl and Joker’s Comedy at 624 Wellsian Way in Richland.

Cigar aficionado’s Richland store offers nearly 600 varieties

Owner of The Educated Cigar & Wine can be found at festivals around region Local entrepreneur Rick Ornstein enjoys the simple things life has to offer, especially sitting down and puffing a premium cigar with friends. His enthusiasm for cigars, believed to date back to the ancient Mayans, is more than evident at The Educated…

Chef Will Willingham, center right, and his team from Cousins’ Restaurant in Pasco served up samples at the Pahlisch Homes home during the Sept. 15 Parade of Homes’ Chefs on Parade event. Thirteen chefs participated. (Courtesy Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities)

Chefs on Parade showcases signature dishes at sold-out annual event

Just hearing the words cranberry bacon jam crostini, blackened ribeye salad, smoked salmon fusilli and caramel corn ice cream can make a foodie’s mouth water. But 800 lucky food lovers were able to taste these tantalizing tidbits offered up by 13 local chefs at the annual Chefs on Parade event. The event is held in…

The WinSome staff includes, back row, from left, Cara Thomas, Lynette Fransen, owner Jane Winslow and Alysha McManus, and front row, from left, Amy Andrus, Vanessa Guzman and Dani Smart. The full-service brand development and marketing firm recently added grant writing and administration to its services, made possible through the company’s move to a new office at 1201 Jadwin Ave. in Richland. (Courtesy WinSome Design)

Richland marketing company moves to larger office

During the past 10 years, WinSome Design Inc. staff have called an 800-square-foot basement their office space. It was the place they brainstormed, collaborated and created to improve others’ business outcomes. The team recently moved from Riverwood Street in Richland to 1201 Jadwin Ave., Suite 101, and more than doubled its work space. “It’s awesome…

Ms. Flower’s Interpreters and Translators owner Flor Garza Gutierrez, right, said her business can supply audio simultaneous interpreting equipment. The devices were used at the Benton Franklin PUD winter weatherization workshop last year. Simultaneous interpreter Veronica Mendez is pictured at left. The West Richland-based company landed a state contract last October, boosting the company’s revenues 150 percent in 2017.  (Courtesy Ms. Flower’s Interpreters and Translators)

West Richland business grows in tandem with increased need for interpreters, translators

As a Spanish interpreter traveling throughout the Tri-Cities and eastern Oregon for more than 20 years, Flor Garza Gutierrez noticed a distinct need for interpreters. During her decades of interpreting for several agencies, she made notes about these needs, names and phone numbers of associates and jotted down business ideas. She had a distinct feeling…

The Support, Advocacy & Resource Center’s new building at 1458 Fowler St. in Richland’s Spaulding Business Park features two separate waiting rooms, which provide more privacy and comfort for clients. The new facility is twice as big as its previous building, allowing SARC to expand its offerings. (Courtesy SARC)

New building allows SARC to expand counseling, sex trafficking services

New $1.2 million facility doubles space for Support, Advocacy & Resource Center Moving into a building twice the size of its previous facility has served as a catalyst for the Support, Advocacy & Resource Center to expand its on-site counseling services and increase its services for sex trafficking victims. The move to the $1.2 million…

Construction is under way on Clover Island on a public pathway connecting existing sections of sidewalk, new lighting, seating, landscaping, artwork and an interpretive area called the Gathering Place to honor Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s history and culture in the area. Two new mixed-use parcels also will be available to developers in the fall. (Courtesy Port of Kennewick)

Clover Island mixed-use parcels expected to be available in fall

Two commercial mixed-use parcels overlooking Clover Island’s marina and shoreline improvements should be available to developers this fall. “We’d hoped it’d be done at the end of June, but the (subcontractors) are really busy,” said Tana Bader Inglima, Port of Kennewick deputy CEO. The port has been working over the past several years to transform…

Jennifer Mitchell, left, owner of Kennewick-based Account Sense, has worked side-by-side with Robert “Bob” Vaughan since November to ensure a smooth transition for his clients. Mitchell bought his business, Robert Vaughan, CPA, when the longtime certified public accountant announced plans to retire.

Kennewick accounting firm acquires longtime CPA business

About two years ago, Jennifer Mitchell, owner of Account Sense in Kennewick, met a fellow accountant and discussed with him the possibility of a future buy-out when he was ready to retire. That time has come with Account Sense recently buying Robert Vaughan, CPA of Kennewick. “When Bob (Vaughan) finally set a retirement date, we…

Juan Fernandez of Middleton Six Sons Farms uses a foot-controlled cart to pick asparagus in Burbank. The farm piloted using The Mantis cart last year and this year bought 15 to assist its workers.

Farmer buys motorized carts to help harvest labor-intensive crop

Middleton Six Sons Farms bought 15 carts for its workers The asparagus served at several Tri-City restaurants likely features spears picked by experts at Middleton Six Sons Farms who have worked in the fields for more than three decades. It’s a lot of work to get the springtime favorite from field to plate. That’s why…

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