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 290,000-square-foot Lamb Weston plant expansion in Richland means the company can make about 600 million pounds of frozen potato products annually. Washington potatoes provide almost $7.5 billion in economic activity in the state, according to the Washington Potato Commission. (Courtesy Lamb Weston)

Lamb Weston doubles fry production with Richland plant expansion

Lamb Weston’s expansion of its Richland potato processing plant adds two million more pounds of frozen french fries daily to the worldwide market. The new $200 million addition has nearly doubled the company’s output of frozen spuds in Richland. “We’ve incorporated 45 years of making french fries into this factory,” said Mark Schuster, Lamb Weston’s…

Construction Industry Training Council of Washington electrical apprentices Aaron Sundby, left, and Jared Hunt review material to prepare for an exam.

Vocational trade school to open in Pasco

A new trade school in west Pasco will provide classroom and laboratory space for apprentices pursuing careers in skilled trades, including future electricians, plumbers and sheet metal workers, all jobs in demand across the state. The Construction Industry Training Council of Washington, or CITC, is opening its first dedicated schooling site in the Tri-Cities. The…

The owners of the Boise Paper mill at 31831 W. Highway 12 in Wallula, about 16 miles southeast of Pasco, plan a $150 million investment in the plant that will double the mill’s production. (Courtesy Scott Butner Photography)

Wallula’s Boise Paper mill plans $150 million in improvements

New machine can produce 400,000 tons a year of corrugated paper products A $150 million investment at the Boise Paper plant in Wallula will replace one machine for another, nearly doubling the mill’s output. Port of Walla Walla Executive Director Patrick Reay described the change as transitioning from “white copy paper to brown goods” like…

Brothers Reed, left, and Porter Kinney of Porter’s Real Barbecue restaurant stand outside the Temple of ’Cue that’s under construction in Richland. The new kitchen will be able to smoke 3,000 pounds of meat daily to supply their Richland restaurant and the one they plan to open next spring in Kennewick.

Porter’s Real Barbecue plans to open Columbia Center Boulevard restaurant

Owner-brothers building Temple of ’Cue with capacity to smoke 3,000 pounds of meat at a time A second Porter’s Real Barbecue restaurant set to open this spring in Kennewick is only the tri-tip of the meaty master plan. Brothers Porter and Reed Kinney have plans to launch two more restaurants within the next couple of…

Steven Carbajo, lead line cook, left, and Paul Westover, sous chef, prep for the dinner rush at Taverna Tagaris in Richland. Westover said only 15 percent of those who applied for their recent job posting for a line cook were qualified. Columbia Basin College will launch a hospitality program this winter to provide job training for the growing restaurant and hotel industry.

CBC to launch new hospitality program to train workers

Columbia Basin College will launch a hospitality training program in January to better prepare workers to join the ranks of more than 6,000 people who work in the growing industry in Benton and Franklin counties. The new program was created in direct response to the increased demand for skilled restaurant and hotel workers. “There’s a…

Customers Lisa Maloof, left, and Anna Riel assemble meals during a recent Dream Dinners session at the Kennewick store.

Kennewick meal prep service provides homemade option for busy families

“I am meal planning inept,” joked Lisa Maloof as she put together loaded barbecue pulled pork bites at a Kennewick meal-prep store. “It’s not my thing and it never has been,” she said. Combine this with a husband she describes as “extremely picky,” Maloof said she relies on Dream Dinners to fill her freezer with…

Kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties stand at the site of the future $4.3 million clubhouse off South Jean Place in Kennewick. (Courtesy Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties)

Capital campaign underway for new Boys and Girls clubhouse

The enthusiasm Craig Eerkes feels for his community is unmistakable when he talks about the plan to build a new clubhouse in Kennewick for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties. “This whole thing is to be proactive with kids,” Eerkes said, his voice filled with pride, and even awe, as he…

More than 300 acres off Kennedy Road behind the Richland Target now zoned as agricultural will be re-zoned to a mix of residential and commercial use when the city of Richland finalizes updates to its comprehensive plan.

Kennedy Road orchards face re-zoning for development

State leases 334 acres behind Richland Target; lease expires in 2021 Agricultural land owned by the state of Washington since the beginning of statehood may eventually be for sale following the completion of the current lease terms. The land on Kennedy Road, north of Vintner Square and behind the Richland Target, includes two leases with…

Deb LaVelle, resident manager for the Kennewick Garden Apartments, stands inside the common area at the affordable senior housing complex on West Fifth Avenue. The complex is undergoing an extensive remodel requiring residents to stay temporarily at a hotel for five days. The common area will be remodeled first and include more seating so residents can stay there during the day when work is happening in their apartments.

Seniors temporarily displaced during extensive remodeling project

An extensive remodel is underway at an affordable senior housing complex in east Kennewick that’s requiring residents to be temporarily relocated and their belongings packed up. The lengthy list of improvements coming to the Kennewick Garden Apartments on West Fifth Avenue includes new flooring, lighting, millwork, doors, appliances and landscaping. [blockquote quote=”We want to create…

The Gesa Credit Union branch at 808 Dalton St. in north Richland will close Oct. 31 because it has been underused. It opened four years ago.

Underused north Richland Gesa branch to close in October

The Gesa Credit Union branch in north Richland will be closing permanently Oct. 31. Gesa reports that the 808 Dalton St. branch is “underutilized” and its “transaction volumes are low” compared to other locations in the Tri-Cities. As a nonprofit cooperative, the credit union determined it wasn’t a good use of members’ resources to keep…

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