Early this morning, Energy Northwest operators disconnected Columbia Generating Station from the Northwest power grid to begin its 25th refueling outage. The biennial refueling is an opportunity to add fresh nuclear fuel to Columbia’s reactor core, as well as perform maintenance projects that can be accomplished only when the reactor is offline.
The Northwest’s only nuclear power plant, which produced nearly 18 million megawatt-hours of electricity during the last two years, is scheduled to be offline for no more than 40 days.
“During refueling, we’ll complete essential work activities to ensure Columbia continues to produce reliable carbon-free power for the region, 24/7” said Grover Hettel, Energy Northwest chief nuclear officer.
Energy Northwest and the Bonneville Power Administration time the plant’s biennial refueling to coincide with spring snow melt and runoff that maximizes power output from the region’s hydroelectric dams and minimizes the impact of taking Columbia offline. Nuclear and hydro are the region’s only full-time clean energy resources.
During the refueling, crews will replace 260 of the 764 nuclear fuel assemblies in Columbia’s reactor core. Every two years, fuel that has been in the reactor core for six years is removed and placed in Columbia’s used fuel pool, which removes residual heat. After a minimum of five years in the pool, the assemblies are moved to Columbia’s on-site dry-cask storage.
In addition to refueling, workers will install a 34-foot, 133-ton refurbished low-pressure turbine rotor as part of Columbia’s life-cycle plan to satisfy the plant’s license extension to 2043. In addition, workers will replace reactor water cleanup heat exchangers and piping; refurbish a condensate pump and motor; replace a service water pump and motor; and clean and inspect the circulating water basin and piping. In all, regular and temporary employees will complete more than 10,000 work tasks.
Concerted, rigorous planning efforts begin two years prior to each refueling, and long-lead planning starts many years in advance. While always a major undertaking, planning during the last 14 months has also required additional COVID-19 pandemic measures. Columbia is one of the last nuclear reactors in the U.S. to complete it’s refueling during the pandemic.
“Our Energy Northwest team put together extensive plans and procedures for a successful refueling while keeping our workforce safe and healthy,” Hettel said. “Our focus during the next several weeks is performing the work safely and getting Columbia back online to continue providing electricity that we’re all counting on.”
More than 1,400 skilled, temporary workers were hired locally and from across the country to support refueling and maintenance projects at Columbia. The added workers join EN’s normal workforce of about 1,000 employees and bring substantial economic value to the region.
Columbia, located 10 miles north of Richland, will restart and reconnect to the Northwest power grid in mid-June.
See the fact sheet and frequently asked questions about Columbia Generating Station's refueling outage for more details.
The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership has received a grant to pilot activating Flag Plaza, site of the Downtown Kennewick Farmers Market and located in historic downtown Kennewick, as a public space with expanded programming and responsible community gathering opportunities this summer.
The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership is one of 4 Washington Main Street Communities to receive the Place Activation Grant. This new piloting grant program was created by Washington Main Street in partnership with Terra Soma, LLC and with additional coordinating support from the National Main Street Center to assist communities with COVID-19 recovery, economic growth, and resilience through activating public spaces that can support small business, enhance quality of life for residents, and restore vitality to impacted districts.
“The partners and vision that HDKP brought to the table for their Flag Plaza proposal really inspired us,” said Breanne Durham, Director of Washington Main Street. “The planning team is clear-headed, creative, and collaborative – it’s a pilot with lots of potential for long-term impact.”
In 2020 HDKP piloted a street closure program downtown called “Alfresco Downtown Kennewick” where they created a boardwalk-style environment that enabled restaurants and retail to expand into the streets in addition to inviting additional food trucks and entrepreneurs to set up pop-up locations. This COVID relief program dramatically increased the vitality of downtown and businesses in the district reported 30-60% increase in sales during the life of the program. “We learned that opening up temporary public spaces for people, social exchanges, and expanded commerce & dining opportunities was a successful experiment,” says Stephanie Button, Executive Director of HDKP. “With this grant opportunity, we are excited to build upon our experience and lessons learned from Alfresco and apply them in Flag Plaza. Our goal is to cultivate a permanent public space that will enable us to expand our Farmers Market, host more frequent and diverse events downtown, and create space for public gathering and food truck dining.”
Over the next 90 days, HDKP and its downtown Kennewick partners will receive technical assistance from Samantha Lorenz of Terra Soma, LLC, as they develop a plan to pilot how Flag Plaza could be redeveloped into a space that delivers economic value in ways that benefit neighbors and local businesses.
“We have been dreaming about the potential of Flag Plaza as a public gathering space for a long time and the timing of this grant opportunity matches the momentum we have downtown for developing public spaces and investing in our public amenities.” Said Button.
Updates to the Flag Plaza public space activation project can be followed at www.historickennewick.org/flag-plaza. If you would like more information about this topic, please call Stephanie Button at 509-582-7221 or email her at email@example.com.
The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership (HDKP) announced the winners of this year’s Downtown Awards in a special broadcast held over Zoom and YouTube on April 28th. At this year’s awards ceremony, the Partnership debuted a new award category, Downtown Revitalization of the Year, and dedicated the Kennewick Downtowner of the Year Award to the memory of Ken Silliman, who was the first winner of this award back in 1989. The Downtown Kennewick Business of the Year was also announced. The awards broadcast can be viewed on HDKP’s YouTube page.
2020 Downtown Kennewick Awards went to:
- Discount Vac & Sew for Downtown Kennewick Business of the Year
- Layered Cake Artistry for “Downtown Kennewick Revitalization of the Year”
- Ken Hohenberg for “Ken Silliman Kennewick Downtowner of the Year Award”
The Downtown Kennewick Business of the Year Award is an award that recognizes a business that contributes to the economic growth and quality of life in downtown Kennewick. 2020 brought forth many challenges for our business community to navigate and overcome, for this year’s award we also took into consideration how businesses pivoted and innovated to stay connected with its customers and active as a business. The 2020 Downtown Kennewick Business of the Year is Discount Vac and Sew, located at 119 W. First Street. Discount Vac and Sew was honored as the Business of the Year not only for it’s track record as an anchoring business in the downtown that brings in lots of retail traffic. Discount Vac and Sew was selected for this honor in part for its work during the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic in organizing a mask kit-making drive that created kits for volunteers to sew desperately needed masks out of the fabric and vacuum bags from their inventory. These masks were similar in their quality to N95 masks. Through Discount Vac and Sew’s coordinated efforts and leadership, over 1,000 were made and distributed local to frontline medical workers. Discount Vac and Sew has a history and culture of giving back to the community and inspiring it’s customers to do the same. Each holiday season Discount Vac and Sew hosts a “Santa Bags” campaign that coordinates with sewers and quilters around the community to create and assemble Santa Bags that are filled with a handmade quilt, personal amenities, and treats. The bags and their items are assembled, filled, and distributed by the staff, customers, and volunteers of this business. These Santa Bags are given to local charities like the Union Gospel Mission and the Women’s Shelter.
“The more we learned about what Discount Vac and Sew does for our community, both during and outside of COVID conditions, the choice was clear,” said Stephanie Button, Executive Director of HDKP. “Staff and the selection committee were inspired by Discount Vac and Sew, it’s owner Ginny Hildreth, and her employees. This is a fantastic business and we are proud to have them as part of our Downtown Kennewick community.”
This year’s awards presentation introduced a new award category, “Downtown Kennewick Revitalization of the Year.” This award recognizes the efforts of those who work strenuously and tirelessly at revitalizing properties and storefronts in the downtown Kennewick area. “Now more than ever it is important to celebrate our revitalization projects. Said Ms. Button. “They serve as an inspiration to other downtown property and business owners and it communicates that our downtown has momentum and positive energy.”
For this first award, HDKP sought to recognize projects completed between December 2019 and January 2021. The first honoree of this award, Layered Cake Artistry and Cake Studio, located at 117 W. Kennewick Ave transformed an old building in the downtown with a complete overhaul of both the interior and exterior of its building.
“The renovations that Layered Cake owners, Elena Gavin and Concetta Gulluni undertook were big and bold on design, while still maintaining a timeless elegance and cozy charm.” Said Ms. Button, “This project transformed not only the block it is located on, but upped the stakes and standards for the rest of the downtown in the best way possible.”
The highest honor that HDKP bestows is the Kennewick Downtowner of the Year Award. To be a Downtowner of the Year is to join an illustrious cohort of do-ers, problemsolvers, and big-picture dreamers. Since the award’s inception back in 1989, this award has been given to men and women who have been champions and advocates for Downtown Kennewick. At the Downtown Kennewick Downtowner Awards it was formally announced that the award would be dedicated in honor of it’s first recipient, Ken Silliman.
Ken Silliman passed earlier this year and was Downtown Kennewick’s largest advocate and a mentor to many. He served as President of the Downtown Association and helped the organization achieve National Main Street Accreditation over 20 years ago. Mr. Silliman was also part of the group that started the Downtown Kennewick Farmers Market. The Past Downtowners of the Year and the Board of Directors of the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership wanted to commemorate Ken Silliman’s legacy to the Downtown Kennewick Community by dedicating the Kennewick Downtowner of the Year Award in his memory and example. Henceforth this award and HDKP’s highest honor, shall be known as the Ken Silliman Kennewick Downtowner of the Year Award.
This year’s Ken Silliman Kennewick Downtowner of the Year Award was presented by Jay Freeman, the 2019 winner of the award. This year’s awardee, Ken Hohenberg, was honored for being an example of integrity, community mindedness, friendliness and collaboration. His efforts can be seen and felt in his long history of service in our community and giving back. Professionally, Mr. Hohenberg has over 40 years of serving the downtown Kennewick and Columbia Drive community.
Ken Hohenberg’s service to his community might have started as a young crossing guard, but it evolved to patrolling our community by cruiser and motorcycle. Fulfilling his dream to become a police officer, Mr. Hohenberg was dedicated to his duty to protect and serve has reached a pinnacle of excellence in his career.
Mr. Hohenberg was Kennewick’s first DARE officer, a patrol sergeant and the department’s first internal affairs lieutenant. He commanded both patrol and detective units as a captain, then became assistant police chief in 2001 and chief of police in 2003. In 2009, he and friends started the KPD Foundation, followed by the Community Care Fund in 2015, which has helped hundreds individuals and families in crisis.
“While Mr. Hohenberg has recently announced his retirement, we have no doubt that he will continue to serve and be engaged in our community.” Said Jay Freeman, “It is my honor to add one more accolade to this year’s Kennewick Downtowner of the Year’s list of accomplishments. I extend my sincere congratulations Ken Hohenberg.”
Ken Hohenberg has been an unwavering partner in helping revitalize historic downtown Kennewick and the historic waterfront. During the awards presentation he was also congratulated by video message from Marie Mosley, Manager of the City of Kennewick, Port of Kennewick Commissioner Don Barnes, and Merrianne Door; co-owner of JD’s Time Center, a downtown Kennewick local business located at 105 W. Kennewick Ave.
The full Downtown Kennewick Downtowner Awards can be viewed online on the HDKP YouTube Page or on the HDKP website.
To view, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjUmRsv6HYo or www.historickennewick.org/blog-archive/2021/5/4/hdkp-announces-winners-of-downtown-awards. If you would like more information about this topic, please call Stephanie Button at 509-582-7221 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baker Boyer will virtually host its second business panel, The State of Business in Our Region, to address the current economy, how businesses are navigating these challenging times and how they can best position themselves for the future. The business panel is open to the general public as part of the bank’s D.S. Baker University. It will take place on Thursday, June 3, at 12 p.m. PT.
Speakers include Dave Kohl, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech, and D. Patrick Jones, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Institute of Public Policy & Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University. Kohl is a renowned keynote speaker with a deep background in business overall as well as keen insight into the agriculture industry, which he has gained through extensive travel, research and involvement in agriculture businesses. Jones, a Whitman College graduate, has expertise in the economic impact of COVID-19 on the Walla Walla region, which is based on his years of experience in Washington state.
“We are passionate about helping our business community thrive during these challenging times, and we believe education around relevant data and timely information is one way to do that,” said Rob Blethen, Executive Vice President at Baker Boyer. “We plan on making these bi-annual business panels a regular part of D.S. Baker University going forward. We had nearly 100 business owners and leaders attend the first one, and we expect that to grow moving forward.”
The event will begin with opening remarks from Mario Delgadillo, Vice President and Regional Business Banking Manager at Baker Boyer. Kohl will then discuss how the pandemic has created challenges and disruptions, but also opportunities in business, banking and life in general. A significant portion of this presentation will be dedicated to the agricultural segment. Next, Jones will spend time on the economics of each market served by Baker Boyer, including Yakima, the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla.
Finally, Baker Boyer Business Advisor Ashley Mahan will share the results of the bank’s business climate survey of local businesses in Yakima, the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla. Baker Boyer plans to repeat this survey every six months to help spot trends as they evolve and report those findings at business panels going forward.
The online business panel will run approximately one hour through Microsoft Teams live. For additional information and to register for this event, please visit www.bakerboyer.com/businesspanel. Attendees of the virtual business panel will have the opportunity to follow up with a Baker Boyer advisor from the office of their choosing. Baker Boyer’s team has expertise in business lending, succession planning, asset management, estate planning and more.
To participate in Baker Boyer’s business climate survey, please visit www.bakerboyer.com/businesspanel. Participating businesses will receive the full results of the survey via email, in addition to seeing the highlights presented at the June 3 business panel. The plan is to repeat this survey every six months to help spot trends as they evolve and report those at Business Panel’s going forward.
As the original Northwest Bank, founded over 150 years ago in Walla Walla, Baker Boyer has always been committed to strengthening our community. We have assembled a world-class team of local advisors with expertise in business lending, succession planning, asset management, estate planning, and much more. Where many banks and other companies are reducing in-person services, Baker Boyer continues to prioritize personal interactions with offices in Yakima, Tri-Cities, and the Walla Walla Valley.
Amidst uncertainties about hosting large gatherings, the River of Fire fireworks display planned for July 4th has been cancelled for 2021.
Facing deadlines and financial commitments to confirm fireworks and event management logistics to accommodate a significant crowd in Columbia Park, the Three Rivers Carousel Foundation Board of Directors, its sponsors and City of Kennewick officials made the joint decision.
City Manager Marie Mosley said the decision is a difficult one. “It’s disheartening to cancel this celebration, however we understand the unknowns of our phased reopening and evolving guidelines make planning for an event of this size and scale at a major venue like Columbia Park challenging,” Mosley said.
The Three Rivers Carousel Foundation has been trying to plan an event where the COVID driven ground rules are not clearly defined and continue to shift. The Foundation also regrets the need to cancel, but says this is the prudent decision. The Foundation plans to be ready for a return in 2022.
The next seminar in Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Community Science and Technology Seminar Series, “Improving Environmental Monitoring, Reduce Stressors, and Get Marine Renewable Energy Devices into the Water,” presented by Alicia Amerson, a marine biologist at PNNL, will take place on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at 5:00 p.m., via Zoom.
The Triton Initiative is researching various environmental monitoring technology and methods to understand how different types of stressors caused by marine renewable energy devices can be tested. The research focuses on the known environmental stressors identified in the State of the Science Report produced by PNNL’s OES-E team. The stressors include collision risk, underwater noise, electromagnetic fields, or changes in habitat. The information gleamed from this research will produce a set of recommendations to inform regulators on how to safely permit marine renewable energy devices bringing the nation closer to meeting climate change goals and reducing dependency on fossil fuels.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Community Science and Technology Seminar Series was launched to help the general public better understand and explore how science transforms our world.
Those who are interested can register here.
Beginning May 1, 2021, qualified past due customers who certify they have been impacted by COVID-19 will receive a one-time bill credit for their past due bill amount as of April 30, 2021, up to $200. Past due is defined as 30 days in arrears. Qualified low-income customers that are not past due, who certify they have been financially impacted by COVID-19 will receive a one-time bill credit of $200.
To help customers pay down higher past due balances, Benton PUD will also match payments made by qualified past due customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The payment match is available for up to half of the April 30, 2021 past due amount, after the initial bill credit is applied. Payments made between May 1, 2021 and July 31, 2021 are eligible for this match. The program will end on July 31, 2021. Applications are available at BentonPUD.org
Since 1946, Benton PUD’s customers have enjoyed the benefits of a community-owned not-for-profit electric service provider. “Customer needs have been our number one priority for 75 years” said General Manager Rick Dunn. “As our community continues to deal with the impacts of the pandemic, it is clear some customers need more assistance with their power bills than has been provided through State or Federal funding.”
At the beginning of the pandemic Benton PUD suspended the practice of disconnecting power for nonpayment which was followed by Governor Inslee’s Proclamations prohibiting disconnections and eliminating our ability to work with customers to enter into meaningful long-term payment arrangements. While good intentioned, the state mandated override of Benton PUD’s business practices, which is set to expire July 31, 2021, resulted in many customers accumulating significant past due balances with no plan to bring accounts current.
Consistent with our longstanding mission and purpose which aim to bring value to the people we serve, and in the spirit of neighbor helping neighbor, Benton PUD’s COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program will provide needed financial relief to our most vulnerable customers. When the Governor’s prohibition on disconnections ends, Benton PUD will continue to assist customers in their recovery from the pandemic by using long-term payment arrangements and the Pay As You Go program to help customers maintain continuity of their electric service while paying back any remaining past-due balances.
Lourdes Health is pleased to announce that The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently awarded Lourdes Medical Center a 5-star Overall Hospital Quality Star rating.
Lourdes is one of only seven hospitals in Washington State to earn five stars and 455 throughout the country, putting Lourdes in the top 14 percent of all hospitals.
“We are extremely proud of the service our healthcare providers do every day and for the difference they are making in the lives of people in our community,” said Jon Deming, Director of Risk & Quality Management at Lourdes. “We could not have achieved this accomplishment without our Lourdes family. We are grateful for every member of our team.”
According to the CMS website, the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating is determined through a variety of measures across five areas of quality, including mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience, and timely and effective care. An average of the five scores is taken to calculate a single hospital summary score. More information about the rating process can be found on the CMS website.
CMS, which launched its star rating system in 2016, last updated its star ratings in January 2020. At that time, Lourdes achieved a 4-star rating.
“For more than 100 years, Lourdes has been a trusted, quality healthcare provider in our community and we are extremely proud to be providing high-quality, safe care, close to home for our community and to see that recognized,” Deming said. “We hope our community knows how invested we are in their health and that their wellbeing matters to us. We strive every day to work hard and fulfill our mission of Making Communities Healthier.”
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.