For the first time in 27 years Port of Kennewick has received a management letter from the Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) following an accountability audit to ensure compliance with applicable requirements and safeguarding of public resources.
The SAO Audit noted concerns in a letter dated January 19, 2022. That audit letter indicated reimbursing former Commissioner Barnes’ legal fees was not an allowable expense and that State law was not followed as the Commissioner seeking reimbursement should not have voted on a matter from which he directly benefitted.
As part of the management letter the SAO is recommending the Port follow its own policy and state law; and further recommends additional legal review to determine if any further actions, such as repayment, are necessary or required by law.
The Port of Kennewick strives for a high standard of accountability and transparency and will follow the SAO’s recommendation for additional legal review.
At the time that Commissioner Barnes requested reimbursement of his legal fees, the port sought legal review by Port Special Counsel, Steve DiJulio of Foster Garvey. He advised the port regarding this matter and prepared a resolution (#2021-08 dated May 25, 2021) which acknowledged responsibility for the reimbursement decision as resting with Commissioners.
In 2021 the port commission was comprised of former-Commissioner (President), Don Barnes—who sought compensation and voted in favor of his own reimbursement request; Commissioner (Secretary), Thomas Moak—who made the motion for repayment; and Commissioner (Vice President), Skip Novakovich—who abstained from voting after indicating he was concerned that such a vote would likely bring both legal and audit issues. Commissioner Ken Hohenberg was not yet seated to office as his term did not begin until January 11, 2022.
The SAO Report and Management Letter will be brought to the Port of Kennewick Board of Commissioners for discussion at its next commission meeting, Tuesday, January 25, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.
Port of Kennewick commission meetings are held virtually; with information and agendas available at: https://www.portofkennewick.org/commission-meetings/.
Lourdes Health is pleased to announce that its Lourdes Pediatrics clinic has received a 2021 Immunize WA award from the State of Washington for child and adolescent immunizations.
Lourdes Pediatrics earned a Bronze Status Award, recognizing a vaccination rate of 70 percent or higher.
“Protecting children and ensuring that they receive their necessary childhood immunizations is one of our top priorities,” said Martha Varnado, Lourdes Pediatrics Clinic Manager. “I would like to commend the department for all their hard work to achieve this, especially with the challenges presented by COVID-19 with patient care in 2021.”
At Lourdes Pediatrics, the doctors engage in active conversations with their patients’ families regarding immunizations, address vaccines at all clinic visits, including sick visits, send messages and letters to families to remind them when their children are due for immunizations, and encourage questions about immunizations from families. Additionally, nurses review patient charts and work with the providers to stay up to date on patients’ vaccine status.
“We’re grateful to be making communities healthier through childhood immunizations,” said Lourdes Medical Director Kevin Taylor, MD. “We provide each of our patients’ families with important education about childhood immunizations and their role in protecting kids and families from preventable diseases.”
Immunize WA is in its seventh year of its provider recognition program, and Lourdes Pediatrics has been recognized in each of those years. Immunize WA is hosted by the Washington Health Plan Partnership, comprised of the Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Health Care Authority, the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington, and all major health plans in Washington.
In addition to required and recommend childhood vaccinations, Lourdes Pediatrics has the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine available for children 5 and older.
Lourdes Pediatrics is located at Lourdes West Pasco clinic at 7425 Wrigley Drive, Ste 101. Patients and their families can make an appointment with pediatricians Paolo Antonio deVera, MD; Geraldine Dizon, MD; or Dianna Lang, MD, by calling 509.546.8399 or scheduling online at YourLourdes.com.
Yakima Federal Savings and Loan Association is pleased to announce the promotion of three valued employees that have demonstrated outstanding performance.
Laurel Bishop has been promoted to Assistant Vice President. Laurel is Manager of the Kennewick-Gage Branch Office. She has 31 years of experience having been originally hired as a teller in Prosser and working her way up over the years to Assistant Prosser Branch Manager. Her most recent position was that of Manager at the Kennewick Branch.
Tina Naasz has been promoted to Assistant Vice President. Tina is the Manager of the Yakima-Stadium Branch Office. She has 22 years of service at the branch and has served Yakima Federal in the roles of Teller, Vault Teller, Savings Counselor and Savings Supervisor prior to her promotion to Branch Manager in May 2021.
Tony Mayorga has been promoted to Assistant Secretary. Tony was hired as a Management Trainee in October of 2020. Tony brings previous sales and banking experience to his new role as Kennewick Branch Manager.
Yakima Federal Savings and Loan is headquartered in Yakima, WA. and has been in business since 1905. With over 2 billion dollars in assets, the association is the 11th largest Washington-based FDIC insured financial institution.
The Port of Benton Commission swore-in newly elected District 3 Commissioner, Lori Stevens at the January 12, 2022 Commission Meeting.
Stevens replaces longtime Port Commissioner, Jane Hagarty, who had served since 1996.
Stevens, a fourth-generation resident of the Lower Valley and graduate of Sunnyside High School, holds a Master of Wine Business from the University of Adelaide, Australia and is the owner-operator of Airfield Estates Winery and Airport Ranches, Inc., where she has dedicated the past 15 years to successfully establishing the family winery and tasting room in Prosser. In addition to the Prosser tasting room, Airfield also has locations in Woodinville and Vancouver, which are designed to promote and advertise the agriculture and wine industry success of the region.
Stevens stated that she is “excited for the opportunity and looks forward to helping foster and promote economic growth for the Port of Benton region through strategic planning, development, and long-term property management.”
Stevens indicated that her goals include increased local business opportunities and awareness, employment, and tourism while maintaining and improving the Port of Benton owned properties, including the Prosser and Richland Airports. As District 3 Commissioner, Stevens will serve on the Prosser Economic Development Association Board and Benton City Chamber of Commerce among several others organizations and committees.
Stevens is a mom to three young boys, ages three, six, and eight and has stated that she plans to make Benton County her family’s home for generations to come.
The Port of Benton will continue to focus on their strategic plan and several projects slated for 2022, including a large electrical replacement project at the Richland Airport, rail crossing repair at Van Giesen St. and Swift Blvd. and continued infrastructure repairs and maintenance.
Baker Boyer is proud to announce the promotions of Jessie Ilaoa and Rosendo Guizar to Senior Vice President effective January 1, 2022. Both have been with Baker Boyer for over 20 years and have worked in multiple roles within the company.
“Baker Boyer is committed not only to the long-term growth and success of our communities but also our employees. We are proud that Rosendo and Jessie have grown and developed their careers at Baker Boyer and will continue to help shape our future to ensure the success of our clients,” Mark Kajita, Baker Boyer President and CEO.
Jessie Ilaoa, Vice President to Senior Vice President
Jessie’s impressive career with Baker Boyer began in 2001 as a Teller. She quickly moved up to Vault Teller before transitioning into her role as Lead Operations Assistant, then Lead Operations Officer. In 2004, Jessie was selected to be the Bank’s first Compliance Risk Manager. She was further promoted in 2016 to Vice President, Regulatory Risk Manager and has been in her current role as Director of Audit & Risk since 2020.
Throughout her career, Jessie has continued to gain accreditations and industry certifications including a B.A. in Business Administration from Washington State University in 2004, Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager in 2007, M.B.A in Business Administration from Colorado State University in 2010, Certified Community Bank Internal Auditor in 2014, and Certified Internal Auditor in 2020.
Banking regulations have increased substantially since Jessie began her compliance career in 2004. Jessie has done an exceptional job keeping up with new regulations while communicating with staff throughout the Bank to ensure that they remain in compliance. As the banking industry moves to a more digital landscape, audit and compliance requirements continue to evolve. Jessie’s role requires her to work closely with regulators, external auditors, and the Board of Directors and she has earned trust and confidence from Baker Boyer’s leadership. Her efforts have been vital to the overall success of the company.
Rosendo Guizar, Vice President to Senior Vice President
Rosendo began his career with Baker Boyer Bank in 1996. During his 26 years at the bank, he has worked in all facets of lending ranging from operational to direct lending responsibilities in both the consumer and commercial areas. He has held positions such as a Commercial Loan Assistant, Consumer Loan Officer, Business Advisor, Credit Administrator, and culminating in his most recent role as SVP Chief Credit Officer. Rosendo is responsible for the Bank’s entire commercial and consumer lending portfolio. His lending experience is a great benefit as he assesses and manages credit risk for the bank and its clients.
He is a graduate of Whitman College with a degree in biochemistry. In 2003, he graduated from the University of Colorado School of Banking. Prior to working at Baker Boyer, he held several entrepreneurial roles, which were instrumental in providing a well-rounded banking and financing background. His understanding of the challenges facing the self-employed and small businesses is an asset for Baker Boyer’s entrepreneurial customers.
The new Trios Family Birth Center is not just creating a new space for expectant mothers to deliver their babies – it’s creating scholarships for students.
Layton Construction, lead project manager for the construction, has partnered with the John William Jackson Fund and the Idaho Youth Education Recycling Partnership (iYERP) to help create scholarships through metal recycling. As metal is removed from the Family Birth Center construction project, it is moved to recycling containers on site and then taken for recycling. The containers are on site with the support of Pacific Recycling, who recycles the metal and pays iYERP for the metal.
“This really has a two-fold purpose to actively be involved with general contractors to advance environmental stewardship and to partner with construction companies, hospitals, and others to offer an opportunity to capture some of their investments through this recycling,” said Bill “Action” Jackson, founder of the John William Jackson Fund.
Jackson and his wife Jackie started their foundation after their youngest son, John William, died in a climbing accident. They wanted a way to honor his memory and to make a difference. With Jackson’s construction background, the idea for turning scrap metal into scholarships was born.
Since the foundation’s inception, it has grown from their community in Idaho throughout the entire state and into Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Utah, Montana, and Nevada. The current Family Birth Center construction project is their first in the Tri-Cities, though they have worked with Layton Construction several times.
Funds for their scholarships are generated through the metal recycling, and Jackson said they try to gear their scholarship awards toward students in the communities where the construction projects are happening to put the money back into the community.
“Our hope is with the Trios Family Birth Center construction to be able to award scholarships for nursing students at Columbia Basin College and Washington State University – Tri-Cities,” Jackson said.
In recent years, the foundation’s funds have been growing and they have been able to award more scholarships. Currently, they are nearing $2 million in scholarships given over the last 20 years.
“It has been amazing to see the impact,” Jackson said.
Last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the world, Jackson said they made the decision to bump up the amount of money for nursing and health sciences scholarships.
“We decided to bump up the amount of money for these scholarships. In 2019, we gave out $55,000. In 2020, we gave out $100,000,” Jackson said. “In 2021, we hope to give out $200,000 or more to nursing students. This translates to at least 100, $2,000 scholarships.”
Jackson said approximately 80 percent of the scholarship funds come from the metal recycling, with the rest coming from donations, either from individuals or organizations.
He said in the coming weeks that scholarship awards will be determined for 2021. The awards will be given directly to the schools, who will then decide the scholarship recipients. He said he is not yet sure how much of the scholarship money will be able to go to Tri-Cities students, but he is looking forward to partnering with Columbia Basin Community College to make these scholarships possible for students.
Those wanting to learn more about the John William Jackson Fund, iYERP, or to donate to the fund can visit the foundation’s website here.
The Trios Family Birth Center construction project began in early 2021 and is expected to be complete in the Spring of 2022. The project was made possible by a nearly $22 million investment from LifePoint Health, and the space will accommodate Trios Birth Center and Special Care Nursery on the Trios Southridge Hospital campus.
Prosser Memorial Health Announces Addition of New Prosser Digestive Health Center and Welcomes Dr. Mitchell Cohen
Our mission at Prosser Memorial Health is to improve the health of our community. As the needs of our community grow, we are dedicated to expanding services and adding new providers to better meet those needs. For this reason, Prosser Memorial Health is excited to announce the opening of the new Prosser Digestive Health Center led by Dr. Mitchell L. Cohen. Dr. Cohen has over thirty years’ experience in providing gastroenterology care.
Dr. Cohen received his MD degree at the University of Southern California (USC), in Los Angeles, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (Stanford University-Affiliated County Hospital), in San Jose, California. He then completed Gastroenterology fellowships at both the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico and at Stanford University in Stanford, California. Dr. Cohen is board-certified in Gastroenterology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is a fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association and the American College of Gastroenterology. He also serves as a Clinical Instructor for the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The specialty of Gastroenterology and Hepatology diagnoses and treats disorders of the digestive system, which is made up of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, pancreas, and biliary system. Conditions treated and services provided at the new Prosser Digestive Health Center include colon cancer screening, gastroesophageal reflux disease, swallowing problems, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, constipation, rectal bleeding, pancreatic disorders, liver disorders, and both diagnostic and therapeutic gastrointestinal procedures.
For more information on conditions treated or services provided at the Prosser Digestive Health Center, or to schedule an appointment, call 509.786.5599 or visit prosserhealth.org.
At the January 4, 2022, City Council meeting, Richland City Clerk, Jennifer Rogers officially swore in recently re-elected councilmembers Ryan Lukson, Michael Alvarez, and Sandra Kent, as well as newly elected members, Theresa Richardson and Jhoanna Jones. Following the swearing-in, the Richland City Council selected two councilmembers to act as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem for a two-year term. Councilmember Michael Alvarez was selected to serve as Mayor after obtaining four votes out of the seven from councilmembers. Councilmember Terry Christensen was selected as Mayor Pro Tem.
The new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem immediately accepted their new roles. Mayor Alvarez was first elected to the Council in 2017 and was recently re-elected to a four-year term.
Mayor Pro Tem Christensen has served as a councilmember since 2011 and is currently serving a four-year term. He has served as Mayor Pro Tem two other times, in 2016 and 2018.
Richland City Council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. All municipal meeting agendas can be viewed by visiting www.ci.richland.wa.us/agendas.
The Children's Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia Distributes Over 6,000 Books to Community Through Resolution Read
The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia (CRFMC) through sponsorship from Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS), will be distributing thousands of books to the community the weekend of January 15-17th, 2022.
On December 31st The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia challenged the local community to make the resolution in 2022 to read 20 minutes every day with a child through the social media campaign, Resolution Read. To support the community in meeting this resolution, CRFMC will donate 12 books to the first 200 local families who registered via their website, www.read20minutes.com. Registration opened January 1st and closed within 24 hours as more than 300 families registered to received free books. 300 book bags will be donated to local community groups to distribute to the low-income families they serve including families in North Franklin and Patterson.
6,000 books will be donated to local families via Resolution Read. “Resolution Read has taken off in a way we never expected,” said Elizabeth Barnes, CRFMC Executive Director “We are really excited that so many families are making the resolution to read 20 minutes every day with their children.”
CRFMC is partnering with Hanford Mission Integration Solutions on Resolution Read. “We know reading is a fundamental skill that will help children be more successful in their futures.” Said HMIS President, Bob Wilkinson “We are thrilled to sponsor this incredible program and look forward to seeing the community take on this challenge.”
HMIS employees will be supporting the event through personally delivering the 6000 books to the community and have already labeled and bagged thousands of books for the event. CRFMC and HMIS would like to thank all the volunteers who have supported this event
Visit Tri-Cities announces the launch of Tri-IDEAs, a new program exploring and celebrating Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility through tourism in the Tri-Cities.
Each week Visit Tri-Cities will connect with business owners, community leaders, event organizers, residents and more to highlight, share and celebrate the diversity of the Tri-Cities that can be experienced through travel and tourism activities.
“Travel is transformative on multiple levels. Exploring new destinations exposes us to different ideas, cultures, history, heritages and people,” said Michael Novakovich, President & CEO of Visit Tri-Cities. “Sharing and celebrating our differences not only highlights what an amazing community the Tri-Cities is, it lets visitors and residents of all backgrounds, races, genders, cultures and abilities know and feel that they’re welcome here.”
Stay tuned to Visit Tri-Cities social channels (Facebook, YouTube) as well as VisitTri-Cities.com to learn more!
Email your press release and a photo to Austin Regimbal, Marketing & Communications Director. Press releases are posted in their entirety. This is a free benefit for members of the Tri-City Regional Chamber.