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.
Jamie and Loren Wikstrand stand behind a newly remodeled checkout counter inside David’s Shoes, 201 W. Kennewick Ave., the store they recently bought and updated with a modern look with new shoe lines and clothes from White Bluffs Boutique, an online-only clothing store. (Photo  by Robin Wojtanik)

New owners reboot longtime downtown Kennewick shoe store

A fashion enthusiast followed her dream of owning not just one – but two – businesses, now located under one roof in downtown Kennewick. Jamie and Loren Wikstrand bought the 68-year-old David’s Shoes store earlier this year. The longtime business is located in a historic brick corner building outfitted with green awnings at 201 W.…

Brandon Andersen, owner of Bonsai Audio, perhaps had the most unique business pivot in 2020, from DJ and audiovisual services to bonsai tree sales. (Courtesy Brandon Andersen)

Pandemic doesn’t stunt Kennewick entrepreneur’s growth

“We do weddings. We do bonsai trees.” Not the typical services you might see offered together, but Brandon Andersen, owner of Bonsai Audio, has found a way to marry the two successfully. “Bonsai stands for an aesthetic. It’s a small work of art that’s also alive,” he said. The Kennewick man’s lucrative business providing DJ…

Christ the King Montessori Preschool teachers Debbie Cleveland, from left, Kelly Buchanan and Aliana Kincaid operate three independent classrooms inside the new building on the Christ the King campus in Richland. (Courtesy Kelly Buchanan)

New building welcomes youngest learners

A new building aims to meet the demand for high-quality preschool education in the Tri-Cities by adding three classrooms dedicated to Montessori learners at the new Ferguson Education Center in Richland. The 5,765-square-foot building opened just after Thanksgiving and can house 60 students at one time at 1107 Stevens Drive. It is named for the…

Duportail Bridge, Richland. (Photo by Scott Butner Photography)

City of Richland: Major construction projects span city limits

A global pandemic hasn’t slowed progress across the city of Richland as major construction projects wrap up and new ones prepare to break ground. The $43 million Duportail Bridge opened to limited traffic in early September 2020. It is expected to fully open by Nov. 1, 2020, providing a new span across the Yakima River…

Belmont Business District, Belmont Boulevard. (Photo by Scott Butner Photography)

City of West Richland: City may hold key to Tri-City home shortage

As a city that doesn’t rely on sales tax revenue to fuel much of its budget, West Richland had an unexpected boost from the Covid-19 pandemic: more people began ordering online, sending “destination-oriented” sales tax revenue to the city’s coffers. “When you’re not dependent on sales tax, it’s actually benefited the city,” said Eric Mendenhall,…

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…

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