Articles by Robin Wojtanik

Robin Wojtanik spent most of her career in broadcast journalism, working at television stations around the country. She spent nearly a decade managing newsrooms in the Tri-Cities and Yakima. She enjoys volunteering for Junior Achievement and Christ the King School and serves on the board for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Northwest chapter. She lives in Richland with her husband and children.
Winemaker Ron Bunnell started The Mask Man, a small business offering doorstop deliveries of personal protective equipment to Tri-City and lower Yakima Valley customers. The business provides disposable masks and other PPE to commercial and residential customers through contactless delivery, typically within 24 hours. (Courtesy Ron Bunnell)

Who is that Mask Man? Prosser winemaker pivots to PPE sales

From award-winning winemaker to N95 mask supplier, Ron Bunnell took a circuitous route to his new business venture, The Mask Man. Bunnell, co-owner of Prosser’s Wine O’Clock and The Bunnell Family Cellar, is using his contacts in China to meet the increasing demand for disposable masks, gloves, infrared thermometers and other personal protective equipment, or…

Moniker, a high-end craft cocktail bar, will serve as the anchor tenant at
702 The Parkway in Richland. Also moving in are Wine Social, a wine bar
offering retail sales, and Ethos Bakery’s second location. (Photo by Robin Wojtanik)

2 new businesses plus bakery expansion pause opening plans

Three businesses are anxious to open their doors in Richland’s Parkway, following months of construction and delays due to Covid-19 restrictions. Moniker, a high-end craft cocktail bar, will serve as the anchor tenant, occupying about half of the building at 702 The Parkway. Wine Social, a wine bar offering retail sales, and Ethos Bakery’s second…

The current fiscal year funding allocates about $2.5 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy toward the Hanford site. Pictured is the Effluent Management Facility that will process secondary liquid offgas produced during low-activity waste vitrification. (Courtesy Bechtel National Inc.)

Hanford drives Tri-City economy—but not as much as it once did

Tri-City residents continue to reap the benefits from continued cleanup work at the Hanford site years after plutonium production ceased. Hanford spending supports about two jobs for every employee hired with federal dollars. “The whole community benefits substantially, regardless of whether you’re a car dealership in Pasco, a restaurant in West Richland, or a real…

Aerial of the Low-Activity Waste Facility at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, known as the vit plant. (Courtesy Bechtel National Inc.)

New construction, demolition, waste treatment mark signs of progress

Hanford’s major contractors continue to make significant achievements at the site, including demolitions, new construction and wastewater treatment as part of ongoing cleanup efforts. A major accomplishment was celebrated in winter 2020 with the demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant’s main processing facility, a result of work by CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Co. (CHPRC). The…

Pam Larsen, far left, and other members of Hanford Communities listen during a 2018 tour of the 324 Building Disposition Project mock-up, which was intended to increase safety and worker confidence by providing employees with the opportunity to work in a non-hazardous environment. (Courtesy Office of Environmental Management)

Longtime Hanford Communities leader to retire

The first and only leader of the Hanford Communities group plans to retire in May 2020, ending 25 years of support and advocacy on behalf of those who live in the shadow of the Hanford site and its long-running cleanup efforts. It’s a role Pamela Larsen didn’t expect to fill, let alone serve in for…

Courtesy Humming Hemp

Richland hemp bar company humming along

More than $1 million has been invested in Richland-based Hummingbar, providing the startup with quick success, place on grocery store shelves nationwide. A Richland company continues to grow in local investments less than a year after churning out its first nutrition bars made from hemp. Humming Hemp’s Hilary Kelsay, chief executive officer, called it a…

Ideal Option’s Benjamin Rae, center, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, talks with patients. The Kennewick-based clinic employs about 300 people across five buildings in Kennewick, plus locations in Pasco dedicated to administrative support. It operates 65 clinics throughout the Northwest, Maryland, Minnesota and North Dakota. (Courtesy Ideal Option)

Kennewick’s Ideal Option tackles the opioid crisis

Ideal Option grew from one to 65 clinics over eight years A nondescript and unassuming collection of buildings along Kennewick’s busy West Gage Boulevard provides a lifeline to patients saddled with opioid addiction, including the rising use of fentanyl pills.  What started as a small clinic grew into a veritable campus and epicenter for a…


Somali immigrant opens small retail market in Kennewick

A new store catering to east African immigrants with halal meat, handmade furniture and clothing from Turkey has opened in Kennewick. Elias Reda and his family opened Elias Halal and Designer Imports at 4603 W. Clearwater Ave., a storefront tucked next to Leisure Pool & Spa and across from Winco Foods, in a space once…

Pipsqueaks owner Lisa Steele, left, and employee Kari Judy both feature children’s clothing lines at Steele’s Kennewick boutique called Pipsqueak at 1408 N. Louisiana St., near Costco. Photo by Robin Wojtanik.

Unique children’s boutique offers one-of-a-kind, handcrafted items

‘Local Etsy’ store in Kennewick offers custom children’s items A Kennewick children’s boutique is striving to make its mark with handcrafted and custom items, offering what Pipsqueaks owner Lisa Steele lovingly refers to as “fluff.” “I’m not one that carries gear, like cribs. It’s really just the fun, finer things of life,” she said. Steele…

Nena Cosic, who creates elaborate charcuterie platters for home catering and other events, has opened a storefront to sell handmade desserts Friday through Sunday in downtown Kennewick. Courtesy Nena Cosic

Bosnian proprietor serves up European desserts, appetizers

Downtown bakery sells individual desserts, cakesto order, charcuterie platters in downtown Kennewick Decades after Nena Cosic was forced out of her homeland as a young child and separated from immediate family for years, the Bosnian refugee is finding success as a baker and caterer. Cosic recently launched European Desserts & Appetizers by Nena with a…

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