Articles by Wendy Culverwell

Bergstrom Aviation provides fueling and maintenance services as well as a flight school at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco. The pandemic forced it to furlough workers, close the flight school and endure a 90 percent drop in refueling. The Port of Pasco is deferring rent for tenants, but Malin Bergstrom, president, said it is little help when there’s little business coming in. (File photo)

Bergstrom Aviation ponders its bills as fuel business collapses, flight school stays shuttered

As Malin Bergstrom ponders the future of the aviation business her father Karl started in 1971, she is worried. The coronavirus pandemic all but froze travel, which hammered the Pasco business. It reported a 90 percent drop in fuel sales to airlines. It closed its flight school when Gov. Jay Inslee issued the Stay Home,…

The new Tapteal Elementary School in West Richland will be 65,000 square feet and built in the same location as the existing school. This means Tapteal students will spend a year at elementary school No. 11, currently under construction off Keene Road in West Richland, for the 2019-20 school year. (Photo: Richland School District)

Positive coronavirus test stops one school project, spares others

West Richland’s Tapteal Elementary will not open as planned this fall after construction stopped when a worker tested positive for the new coronavirus, which causes the deadly COVID-19. The shutdown is sending a ripple through the Richland School District’s construction schedule. Fowler Construction, the Richland contractor for the $20 million project, had previously informed the…

Some construction work that can be performed at a six-foot distance resumed in Washington as the state moved to lift the severest restrictions of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Permit activity appears healthy but looks may be deceiving. (Photo by Scott Butner)

Tri-City construction numbers appear normal, but looks may be deceiving

Homebuilders and homebuyers appear undaunted by the COVID-19 crisis that has sidelined construction and much of the economy since March. Building permit activity dipped in April, but it is still solid for the year to date, according to new figures released May 7 by the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities. Local agencies authorized 437 single-family…

Courtesy Tyson

Teamsters target Tyson plant after COVID-19 spreads

A local union hopes the 1,450 workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Wallula will rethink collective bargaining after coronavirus spread through the workforce and killed at least one man. Teamsters Local 839 is “absolutely” interested in representing Tyson’s beef plant workers, said Russell Shjerven, secretary, treasurer and business agent.  The union represents 55…

Wendy Higgins, general manager of The Lodge at Columbia Point, sent idled workers to help set up the nonprofit Grace Kitchen in Pasco’s old Union Gospel Mission. The hotel rehired its furloughed workers after it received a Paycheck Protection Program loan but had little work for them in Richland. (Photo by Vanessa Guzman)

Tri-City hoteliers think outside the box as pandemic emptied rooms

Tri-City hoteliers found creative and unexpected ways to stay relevant after a wave of cancellations washed over the industry on what one owner called Black Friday in March. “People are definitely thinking outside the box,” said Michael Novakovich, president and chief executive officer of Visit Tri-Cities, the region’s tourism marketing agency. He’s heard of only…

Empty parking lots are the new normal at the Tri-Cities Airport, which received $5.9 million from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act after the coronavirus pandemic caused travel to plummet. The federal money covers the airport’s $2.1 million debt payment and seven months of operating expenses. The Port of Pasco would like to repave the parking lot while it is mostly empty, but said the future is too uncertain to risk spending the $700,000 it will cost. (Photo by Wendy Culverwell)

Aviation community perplexed by CARES Act airport funds

Port of Pasco officials are delighted and perplexed by the $5.9 million they received from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to support the Tri-Cities Airport during the coronavirus pandemic. Airport traffic is down more than 95 percent, casting its ability to pay the bills into chaos. The government money from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and…

Kickstand Tours

Kickstand Tours wants to put wineries in reach of ordinary cyclists

Andy Zissermann worked in western Washington as a mechanical engineer for more than 20 years before his career ran its course. In 2019, he had fun—spending much of the growing season riding an electric bike among the wineries of Walla Walla and the Yakima Valley. The Edmonds resident wasn’t merely enjoying Washington’s wine country. The…


Port of Kennewick renews railcar company’s Finley lease without rent increase

A Portland railcar company will continue operating another five years at the Port of Kennewick’s Twin Tracks Industrial Park in Finley. Greenbrier Rail Services, a tenant since the park opened in the 1990s, exercised the second of its six original options to renew the lease for its 40-acre railcar maintenance center. The move preserves 32…


Growing ag demand for propane prompts Christensen to invest in Pasco terminal

Christensen Inc. is installing a modern propane terminal at the Port of Pasco to support growing demand for fuel to agricultural drying operations. Propane fuels dryers for onions, hops, mint, corn and even hemp grown in the Mid-Columbia, said Marci Ballard, general manager for Christensen’s Eastern Washington operations. The company, formerly Powell Christensen, will add…

A-Plus Transportation provides long-distance medical transport in the Tri-Cities region. Business is down but owner Tom Ammeman anticipates strong demand when people are able to visit their doctors. (Courtesy A-Plus Transportation)

Three businesses, one pandemic add up to juggling act for Tri-City entrepreneurs

When Rachel and Tom Ammerman took over A-Plus Transportation, a Yakima medical transporter, they had big plans to expand to a new line of business. A-Plus focuses on long-distance transport for Medicaid patients. It is a low margin business, so the Tri-City couple added a small-group charter business to fill what they saw as a…

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