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.
The Reach Museum at 1943 Columbia Park Trail in Richland offers private event rentals. The museum overlooking the Columbia River opened in 2014 and celebrates the natural and scientific history of the Mid-Columbia along with its people and cultures. (Courtesy Reach Museum)

Richland’s Reach Museum emerges
from pandemic leaner and stronger

The Reach Museum survived the pandemic, increasing admissions beyond pre-pandemic levels, celebrating its eighth anniversary and looking to the future with hope for an expansion at its Richland facility overlooking the Columbia River. “It’s really a milestone for us,” said Rosanna Sharpe, executive director. The museum was meeting its goals before the Covid-19 pandemic forced…

The Platinum Automotive team looks forward to moving into its new building at 8504 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick in the coming months. From left, Nathan Goetsch, Tom Smith, Eric Muhlbeier and Aaron Swier. (Courtesy Platinum Automotive)

Kennewick auto repair shop gears up for expansion

After growing his business from a mobile shop run out of a Jeep, Nathan Goetsch looks forward to rolling up the doors at his new 5,600-square-foot automotive repair building at 8504 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick. Goetsch, the sole owner and operator of Platinum Automotive, is taking the plunge to finance his own $1.3 million…

Blake and Brittney Kluse, left, purchased a Kennewick cheer gym and rebranded it to IMPACT elite all-stars, which they’ll run with Lexi and Jordan Chavallo, right. (Courtesy IMPACT Elite)

Established cheer gyms change owners; two new ones open in last year

Cheer teams continue to attract a wide range of athletes across the Tri-City community, now filling four gyms in the area with participants in both competitive and recreational options. Two of the gyms opened in the past year and the two others recently went under new ownership, turning over a new leaf on the popular…

Owners of Lil’ Moon Diner, Frances and Jamie McCallum, and their children, Lilia and Logan. The family-run restaurant opened in the West Richland space that held JD Diner for many years. (Courtesy Lil’ Moon Diner)

West Richland diner reopens under new ownership, new name

A longtime West Richland diner once named for Jamie McCallum is now owned by Jamie himself, and the first order of business was changing the restaurant’s name – to honor his young daughter with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Jamie and his wife, Frances, launched Lil’ Moon Diner at 3790 W. Van Giesen St. in the…

WHECO Corp. recently opened in Pasco, adding a second Tri-City location to its list of nationwide and international facilities for machinery repair. Its corporate headquarters are in Richland. (Courtesy WHECO Corp.)

Crane repair company expands
Tri-City footprint

A 51-year-old crane repair company recently opened its second location in the Tri-Cities. WHECO Corp. started out as a parts supplier in Dayton and then expanded to six facilities across the U.S. over the decades, along with a rebuild center in the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean. The Pasco site at 525 S.…

The number of employees in manufacturing roles increased about 0.3% year over year. While this is an upward trend, manufacturing employment has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, estimated at 8,200 jobs in the industry. (Courtesy Pasco Machine)

Area manufacturing jobs rebound but not to pre-pandemic levels

The state predicts the number of manufacturing jobs will drop in the next decade, yet industry groups intend to do everything they can to not only buck that trend but double the number of both manufacturing positions and manufacturing companies in Washington. “If the Legislature does nothing, we will have fewer manufacturing jobs,” said Dave…

Sergey Oleynik, instructor at Pasco’s T Enterprises, trains students to receive their commercial driver’s license. (Photo by Robin Wojtanik)

Demand for truckers keeps CDL schools ‘busier than ever’

Truck drivers are in demand for jobs based in the Tri-Cities. Teresa Maki, who has been in business for more than 30 years as owner of T Enterprises, a Pasco private trucking school certified in Commercial Driving License (CDL) training by the state Department of Licensing, said her enrollment has almost doubled since 2020. “The…

Construction to add a lane on Highway 395 in Kennewick and an underpass in the Southridge area is expected to shift cars back onto the roadway this summer before wrapping up work this fall. (Courtesy WSDOT)

Roundabout to alleviate Hanford traffic delayed until next year

A roundabout planned to alleviate Hanford traffic in north Richland is now delayed until next spring. A traffic circle is planned at the intersection of Highways 240 and 225 and Route 10 adjacent to the Hanford nuclear site. “There’s been a lot of near misses in the area and also a lot of congestion, especially…

Nate Taylor is general manager of Boiada Brazilian Grill, a restaurant that opened in Kennewick and is expanding to Spokane. (Photo by Robin Wojtanik)

Tri-City businesses find success with new locations in Spokane

While many business owners felt fortunate to have emerged from the pandemic still operating, a handful of Tri-City entrepreneurs decided to take the plunge and expand – often to Spokane. After noticing other businesses entering the market two hours north, Rich Breshears of Breshears Professional Photography jokingly questioned, “Is that the new black – to…

Entrepreneur Chauné Fitzgerald has a wide-ranging influence on the Tri-City community: empowering other business owners, speaking for the voiceless and creating positive change. (Courtesy Chauné Fitzgerald)

Longtime community leader works to make an impact

Chauné Fitzgerald continues to make a mark on the Tri-City community through her volunteer work and advocacy, operating her own business and starting a successful nonprofit. She’s also working to launch a Tri-City chapter of the Washington African American Chamber of Commerce. But the Richland entrepreneur says she regularly feels unseen or invisible and works…

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