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.
Pioneer Packaging is building a $3.8 million warehouse at 5818 Industrial Way in Pasco. (Photo by Kristina Lord)

Port of Pasco: Industrial expansion targets open land

The Port of Pasco is set to become the home base for the largest milk protein facility in North America – employing hundreds of people with well-paying jobs at a new Darigold facility that will anchor the Reimann Industrial Center. Darigold Inc. expects the project to employ more than 1,000. Those at the plant will…

Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco. (Courtesy Port of Pasco)

Tri-Cities Airport: Pandemic has air travel in a holding pattern

Covid-19 has taken a bite out of air travel at the Port of Pasco-operated Tri-Cities Airport, which hasn’t rebounded as hoped, just as the end of summer tends to “dry up” leisure travel, said Airport Director Buck Taft. “I don’t have the confidence to say anything for certain. It’s taking a dip as of right…

Delicakes by Angelica is located in a storefront at 110 S. Fourth Ave. In the Pasco Specialty Kitchen in downtown Pasco by appointment. (Photo by Robin Wojtanik)

Pasco businesswoman discovers hidden cake decorating talent

Pilar “Angelica” Hernandez had already earned her cosmetology license and commercial driver’s license before realizing she had a hidden talent as a cake decorator. Now, the Pasco businesswoman owns Delicakes by Angelica, operating out of the Pasco Specialty Kitchen and providing elaborate cakes for weddings, birthdays, quinceañeras, baby showers and other celebrations. But don’t expect…

Valerie Driver, owner of Richland’s Spudnut Shop, has worked for more than 50 years in the restaurant started by her father and uncle. She recently spent tens of thousands of dollars to update the doughnut shop after it and neighbors in the Uptown Shopping Center were sued in federal court for allegations they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Photo by Robin Wojtanik)

Spudnut remodels to meet ADA requirements after suit

Modern updates have come to Richland’s famed Spudnut Shop, but not from a voluntary desire to change the space that hadn’t been remodeled since 1965. Valerie Driver, the second-generation owner of the iconic Richland restaurant, said she spent tens of thousands of dollars to update the shop after she and several neighbors in the Uptown…

Tri-City native Arthur Baranovskiy launched a drafting and design company called AYB Drafting, based in Richland that taps into skills, education and talent found locally. Baranovskiy founded his company while still completing his electrical engineering degree at Washington State University Tri-Cities. (Courtesy Arthur Baranovskiy)

Delta High grad-turned-entrepreneur solves problems with design

Arthur Baranovskiy, who credits YouTube and Pasco’s Delta High School for propelling him into technical drawing, is building a successful business offering drafting and related services to Tri-City businesses. Baranovskiy, 24, isn’t shy about touting AYB Drafting, which offers drafting and design services, including technical drawings, blueprints for high-end custom homes and mechanical shop work.…

Courtesy Terri Szendre

Couple transform Flat Top Mountain property into lavender farm

An unassuming West Richland lavender farm brims with purple and possibility as the owners dream well beyond U-pick bunches to becoming the largest lavender-cutting supplier in the state. Terri and Steve Szendre operate SunKissed Lavender on Flat Top Mountain, off Collins Road, where they nurture 2,000 lavender plants, land once covered with weeds and sagebrush.…

Spring blossom background. Beautiful nature scene with blooming

Consumers crave their fresh fruit

The 2021 cherry crop is shaping up to be larger than last year’s but with the usual caveat for the sweet, fragile fruit: A single weekend of wind or rain could cause widespread devastation. The cherry industry didn’t miss a beat when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived a year ago. Washington growers harvested nearly 20 million…

Courtesy Washington State Apple Commission

Fewer apples heading to market

Fewer apples are going to market in 2021, but this isn’t really a complaint. “This has proven to be very advantageous as far as Covid and trade issues go,” said Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission. The industry expects to harvest 122 million bushels in 2021, compared to 134 million in 2020. Apple…

Courtesy Double R Ranch

Hop output lower with changes
in beer demand, distribution

After a chaotic year, Washington’s hop industry is looking for a win. “Things are starting to get rocking and rolling again,” said Jaki Brophy, communications director for the Washington Hop Commission, following a year of Covid-19 restrictions, lower beer sales and punishment by Mother Nature. Wildfires and windstorms took a toll on hop crops in…

Aaron Brink got into beekeeping when a hive made its home on his property. Today, Brink’s Bees manages 45 million bees in 200 Tri-Cities hives and provides pollination services as well as honey. (Courtesy Brink’s Bees)

Beekeeper pollinates Northwest crops, sells varietal honey

In just a few short years, Aaron Brink went from an annoyed homeowner, frequently stung by bees while mowing, to a commercial beekeeper who laughs off daily stings while tending to hundreds of beehives. “I’m immune to bee stings,” said Brink, owner of Brink’s Bees. “I got into the bees as a hobby, not a…

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