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.
After years of planning and efforts to secure funding, construction on the Duportail Bridge got underway in early 2018, with a planned finish date of 2020. (Photos: Scott Butner Photography)

City of Richland: big projects underway in central district

The opening of the Queensgate Drive roundabouts allowed Richland to wrap up one of its major capital projects in 2018, while shifting focus for the next six months on building its new City Hall. The central district is a part of town receiving more attention from the city after a surge of growth in south…

A yet-to-be-named elementary school is under construction at 2100 Sunshine Ave. in West Richland to support 600 students. It’s part of the “school-driven” commercial growth seen in the city, which has grown 4.5 percent year over year to 15,320 residents in 2018. (Photo: Richland School District)

City of West Richland: ‘bedroom community’ expands west

At 15,320 citizens strong, West Richland is looking to its undeveloped western end of town as the focus for future growth. “The center of town is pretty much built out,” said Aaron Lambert, West Richland’s community development director. What feels like the center of town for West Richland tends to be the area near Yoke’s…

Tyrone Riggle, president of Riggle Plumbing Inc., is one of many Tri-City subcontractors who lost money when Vandervert Construction Inc. was placed in receivership amid financial crisis. Riggle considers his company fortunate to have lost less than $10,000 for work performed for Vandervert Construction after initially filing claims totaling nearly $300,000. (Courtesy Riggle Plumbing Inc.)

Dozens of Tri-City subcontractors still left without paycheck

Contractors who once did business with Vandervert Construction Inc. are separating themselves into two groups: lucky or unlucky. “We are one of the lucky ones,” said Mary Rosen, controller for Richland-based Garrett Electric Company Inc. The lucky ones are those who got paid most or all of what they were owed for doing work for…

Pasco has agreed to sell 6.7 acres of land to Moore Holdings, which could become the site of a new Hyundai dealership. (Courtesy city of Pasco)

Sale to close soon on former aquatics center land in Pasco

Pasco is ready to offload nearly seven acres of land on the western side of the city once intended for a regional aquatics center. Pasco’s Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel said the 6.7-acre property is under contract with Moore Holdings at $5 a square foot, for a total purchase price of $1.5 million. Pasco originally…

An extensive interior remodel is underway at the Richland Dutch Bros., located in the Yoke’s Fresh Market parking lot on Keene Road.

Richland Dutch Bros. temporarily closes during remodel

Richland’s only Dutch Bros Coffee currently is closed for a complete interior remodel, with plans to re-open on Sept. 26. “We’re gutting it and starting over inside,” said Brad Barnes, who owns the Richland coffee stand and both Dutch Bros. in Pasco. “We are setting up the stand for something that makes sense,” Barnes said.…

Foodies too will debut this fall in the former site of Paper Street Brewing Co. It will become the third restaurant opened by Joanna and Terry Wilson in the past three years.

Second Foodies restaurant coming to Richland’s Parkway

The Wilson family has expanded from a single floating food counter aboard a pontoon on the Columbia River to three full-service restaurants in Kennewick and Richland. Their third restaurant, called Foodies too, is expected to open before Christmas in Richland’s The Parkway, occupying the space once home to Paper Street Brewing Co. Terry and Joanna…

Kennewick recently revised its transportation impact fees, or TIFs, to a location-based fee schedule, with the highest fees assessed on homes built in the Southridge area, and the lowest on homes built in the city’s downtown core.

Builders face rising home permit fees

Tri-City home building permits remain a fraction of the cost they are in larger cities like Seattle and Portland, but the final price tag still has seen steady increases in recent years across Pasco, Kennewick and now Richland. “My counterparts in other regions would probably laugh at our fees. In the Portland market, the fees…

Sexual harassment prevention training continues in wake of #MeToo movement

Nearly a year into the #MeToo movement, the awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace has prompted many large and small business owners to take a closer look at their own policies and procedures. John Heaton, president of Pay Plus Benefits in Kennewick, believes there’s been cyclical attention to the issue over the years. “This…

Mark and Leticia Whitten prepare to launch their new restaurant at 701B The Parkway in Richland. Miss Tamale will feature tamales sold individually or by the dozen.

New tamale restaurant to open in Richland Parkway

The Food Network taught Leticia Whitten how to cook and even some English. “She watched a lot of Martha Stewart. Well, until (Stewart) got in trouble,” joked Leticia’s husband, Mark Whitten. As a Mexican immigrant, Leticia built her skills in the kitchen while raising three daughters, eventually perfecting her recipes for tamales. She began selling…

A massive remodel is underway at the M Hotel on George Washington Way, taking dozens of rooms down to the studs before re-opening them at the end of the month. The hotel is poised to become a Best Western property after its remodel began in fall 2017. The hotel started as a Holiday Inn when it first opened in 1976.

M is for ‘makeover’ at longtime Richland hotel

A Richland mainstay for more than 40 years, the M Hotel will soon offer guests refurbished rooms when its first phase of renovations are completed at the end of this month. This stage of work includes the hotel’s original 120 rooms surrounding the large, indoor pool at the property on 1515 George Washington Way. Due…

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