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Pride — Of the Yakima Valley —

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A S P E C I A L S U P P L E M E N T T O T H E D A I LY S U N N E W S — S eptem b e r 1 4 , 2 0 1 6 —


2 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

Company’s expansion an investment by Jennie McGhan

Ace Hardware - Sunnyside........ 13

SUNNYSIDE — A $97 million expansion project completed this year is a large investment in the local economy. Darigold expanded its plant to include 35,000 square feet of additional production and storage space, as well as jobs in the community. During its June ceremony, Northwest Dairy Association Board Chairman Leroy Plagerman, Chief Executive Officer Stan Ryan and Senior Vice President of Operations Scott Burleson said they were proud of the expansion, which reduces the number of trucks delivering Eastern Washington milk to the western side of the state. “More milk can be processed here, keeping more trucks off the road and reducing cost to producers,” Plagerman said. “We’ll all be benefactors for years to come,” Ryan said. Plagerman said they increased its production by approximately 70 percent. Burleson lauded the company’s ability to add jobs and ability to process more non-fat milk powder, which is used around the globe. The project began in 2013 and

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun

Ten vats process 55,000 pounds of cheese each day.

DAILY SUN

Your Lower Yakima Valley News Leader

The Daily Sun News (USPS 781-760) is published daily, except Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays for $70.00 per year by Roger Harnack at 600 S. 6th Street, and entered as Periodicals postage paid at Sunnyside, WA 98944. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Daily Sun News, P.O. Box 878, Sunnyside, WA 98944. Subscription Rates: $6 per month/ $70.00 per year for home delivery by Dealer/ Carrier. Mail Subscriptions $70.00 per year in Yakima and Benton Counties, out-of-county $75.00 per year, payable in advance.

Advertisers Index American Rock Products.............9 Benton REA.................................17 City of Sunnyside..........................3 Complete Therapy..................... 13 Daily Sun News.......................... 23 Hall Financial............................. 10 Lower Valley Credit Union......... 18 PMH Medical Center................. 24 Port of Sunnyside...................... 11 Smith Funeral Homes and Crematory..........................5 Sunnyside Dairy...........................7

Darigold photo

New receiving bays added to the Darigold plant are used to offload and onload trucks carrying milk products to and from the facility. was completed by local contractor Mountain States Construction. The plant now produces retail cheese, impacting the local economy to the tune of $1.28 billion, officials said. An additional 3.5 million more pounds of milk is processed each day. The retail cheese, mostly white cheddar, is sold in Costco stores, Ryan told the Daily Sun News. The local plant is the largest of 11 in the northwest, made up of a cooperative of more than 500 dairy farms. Approximately 120 loads of milk, amounting to about 73,000 pounds per truck, are transported to the local plant each day, Powder Plant Manager John Kochis said. “That’s close to 9 million pounds per day,” he said. The plant has two pasturizers, each see “Investment” Page 3

600 S. Sixth St., P.O. Box 878 Sunnyside, WA 98944 News/Advertising (509) 837-4500 Circulation (509) 837-3701 FAX (509) 837-6397 News E-Mail: News@DailySunNews.com Advertising E-Mail: Ads@DailySunNews.com Classifieds E-Mail: Classifieds@DailySunNews.com Legals E-Mail: Legals@DailySunNews.com Website: www.DailySunNews.com Eagle Community Newspapers Official newspaper for thE cities of sunnyside, Grandview & Granger yakima county, Washington State

Sunnyside Physical & Sports Therapy................... 10 Valley Hills Funeral Home......... 21 Valmont.........................................4 Western Stockmens.....................6 Wilbur Ellis....................................9 Yakima Federal Savings and Loan...................................7 Yakima Neighborhood Health.. 15

ON THE COVER Top photo: The Yakima Valley as seen from atop the Horse Heaven Hills viewpoint in Prosser. Photo by Ileana Martinez/Daily Sun.

Bottom Left: Granger celebrates dinosaur tradition.............Page 11 Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun

Plant Manager John Kochis stands in front of the new drier tower, which was constructed with a stand pipe fire suppression system.

Center: Sunnyside family fires up the pizza business........... Page 14 Bottom Right: Northwest Nitro National Hillclimb............. Page 16

STAFF Roger Harnack................Editor and Publisher

Monica Olivarez..............Circulation Manager

John Fannin.......................... Managing Editor

Job Wise.............................Production Manager

Jennie McGhan................................... Reporter

Elaine Schneider.......................Graphic Artist

Julia Hart............................................. Reporter

Ileana Martinez..........................Graphic Artist

Kathy Viereck................. Advertising Manager Debbie Guerrero...................... Office Manager Karen Zackula..................Classifieds & Legals Printed on          recycled paper.

Correction Policy... The Daily Sun News strives for ac­curacy in our news reporting. If you feel we’ve made a factual error, we welcome you to let us know. Please call the news department at 837-4500, or email at News@DailySunNews.com. Correc­tions will be placed on page 2, except for those from sports stories, which will run on the sports page.


September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 3

Investment continued from page 2

running four hours at a time, Technical Manager Tom Rouleau said. He said there are 10 vats for processing cheese, holding 55,000 pounds of milk apiece. Director of the Northwest Dairy Association Dennis Mickelsen said 11.5 million pounds of milk is produced in Eastern Washington. Local producers generate about 6.5 million pounds daily. In addition to white cheddar, Darigold produces American, Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses from that milk, Rouleau said. The cheese is aged locally before being sent to a packaging facility. Cheese is not the only product produced at the plant. A byproduct of milk, known as whey, is dried at the plant as a nutritional additive to products like candy bars, Rouleau said. It is also used by other countries as a source of protein, he said. The plant produces 270,000 pounds of whey each day. “It contains most of the nutritional value of milk at a lower

cost,” Rouleau said. Control of the products is imperative, he said. As a result, there is a wet zone within the plant for separating cream from the milk. The cream is shipped to the company’s Issaquah plant to produce butter, Rouleau said. A dry zone has been established in the plant’s addition for the whey, which is important to keep moisture from the product, he said. The new driers for the whey are more than 130 feet tall and can be monitored from a central location, Rouleau noted during a tour. The expansion also included five receiving bays for offloading milk. “As many as 125 double tankers can be received each day,” Rouleau said. The receiving bays provide the capability of not just offloading, but testing milk as it is received and washing out the tanks each day, he said. “Two of the bays also can be used for loadout of cream,” Rouleau said.

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun

The palletizer, pictured above, moves bags of whey onto a pallet. At right, silos at the plant store milk used for processing cheese and whey.

Sunnyside is growing and the future is bright!

T

he community of Sunnyside is growing and we are well on our way to realizing our vision of being a vibrant, safe, and clean city that offers great business, employment, recreational, and lifestyle opportunities to a diverse population. With new housing developments, large industry, and over 66 acres of parks and an Olympic size swimming pool, Sunnyside is one of the best — small town — places in Washington to live, work, and play. The city continues to invest in its future by building new streets, improving our water system, and expanding our parks. Sunnyside Community Hospital is building a brand new hospital, our community library was remodeled last year, and we have a new elementary school. Sunnyside — Where the sun shines brightest and our future is bright indeed!

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September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 5

Youth continued from page 4

Valley Fair and Rodeo and won ribbons,” he said. “One was best in show.” All their dreams nearly went up in smoke, however. Last year, the center’s original home at 206 W. Second St. had an attic fire that resulted in smoke and water damage to much of the facility, as well as supplies and furniture. The fire occurred just days away from the start of the school year, keeping students from being able to visit after school the first few weeks. The community rallied behind the center, though. Kenyon Zero Storage had another vacant building at 300 W. Second St., which once served as a bowling alley. Different restaurants occupied the space throughout the years, but many of the inside features were ideal for the center’s purposes. The building is larger than the center’s original home, featuring areas for entertainment and studying. A stage has been used for performances and presentations.

Mrs. Iwami said the center is the product of the community’s belief in supporting its youngsters. “It’s grown into more than we thought it would — I think we’re having a greater impact on lives than we thought we would,” he said. Mrs. Iwami said she used to hate hearing, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That’s because, as a mother, she believed it was her responsibility to raise her own children. Experience and exposure to the realities of the lives of others has taught her not all parents have the time and resources they would like to have for their families. “Often children crave attention and care,” Iwami said. The center has kept to its original purpose, providing a mentorship for youth in the community. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the center hosts its “Success Connection” program, matching a youngster with an adult mentor. “There have been some successful pairings where a mentor stayed with a

student all four years of high school,” Iwami said. There is a “stepping stone” to that program, he said. The center’s “Upgrade” program caters to students who don’t want to yet commit to Success Connection. The students participating in Upgrade are held accountable for attendance and grades. They receive rewards for doing well. “It keeps them accountable,” Iwami said. Accountability can lead to greater success in school, and he said the hope is to get students thinking about their future. That’s why the center has also hosted field trips to college campuses. “It’s a slow process… some kids hadn’t thought about their future and seeing a college campus opens their eyes,” he said. The Iwamis said community support keeps the center operational, but that support helps them do what they enjoy most — inspiring youngsters.

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun

Jose Herrera checks in at Extra Mile Student Center after school.

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6 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

Black leaving Enactus in good hands Nationally ranked Top 4, Toppenish business program continues to glow

What is Enactus? Enactus changed the name from SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) four years ago to Enactus. Enactus is an international non-profit organization that brings together student, academic and business leaders committed to using entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.

by Julia Hart

TOPPENISH — A program giving university students real life business experience continues to grow and earn national accolades. The Heritage University business and marketing team finished fourth in the national Enactus USA Exposition held in St. Louis, MO., in May. The honor came Black as no surprise to the program advisor and mentor Leonard Black. Black, who until recently was the university’s business administration and accounting administration department chairman said the Enactus students faced tough competition from some of the best schools in the country.

Daily Sun file photo

Looking very professional, the Heritage University. Enactus team, posed with Director Leonard Black in May after earning a Top 10 spot in national competition. The team of Nataly Alvarez, Alden Andy, Jose Carrillo, Alejandro Haro, Zia Lohrasbi, Javier Morin, Jr., Nicole Lopez, Fidencio Nicolas and Ximena Prieto faced off against 250 colleges and universities for fourth place. “They performed brilliantly in every round of the competition,” Black said. His presentation team of Nataly Alvarez, Alden Andy, Jose Carrillo, Alejandro Haro, Zia Lohrasbi, Javier

Morin, Jr., Nicole Lopez, Fidencio Nicolas and Ximena Prieto faced off against 250 colleges and universities on their way to claiming fourth place honors.

The Heritage team advanced to the finals behind Flagler College of St. Augustine, Fla.; John Brown University of Siloam Springs, Ark.; and La Sierra University of Riverside, Calif. Black who retired from the university in June, said the win was well deserved, noting the Heritage Enactus has won 12 consecutive

see “Enactus” Page 7


September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 7

Enactus continued from page 6

regional championships. Since first reaching the national level in 2004, Heritage’s team has been in the Top 20 for 10 years in a row, Black said. The father of Enactus feels he is leaving the program in good hands. “I think it would be more accurate to say that I revived the program. It had been in existence prior to my arrival at Heritage,” he said. “But it had died out by the time I arrived. I was fortunate enough to have students who saw the value of the program and helped me get it going again.” Black said many of those students have had great success after leaving Heritage. He easily named a dozen along with the businesses they now work for and how they got those jobs. “Yes, I have just retired,” Black said. “But Enactus is in good hands with Dioselina Verduzco, who was involved with the program for several years.” As always, Black gave credit to the hard work of the students,

“I was fortunate enough to

have students who saw the value of the program and helped me get it going again.”

— Leonard Black saying said they had presented three specific case studies from the group’s 2015-16 efforts to train low-income individuals at home and abroad to become successful entrepreneurs. The wining case study included the growth of Enactus’ “Camp SEED,” a summer program which teaches social, economic and environmental development as well as financial literacy to at-risk youth between the ages of 11-14. Camp SEED is one of a long list of projects Enactus students have developed during the past 12 years.

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8 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

People behind the scenes make ambassador program work by Jennie McGhan

SUNNYSIDE — One of the city’s most successful and long-standing programs has stood the test of time due to the efforts of volunteers behind the scenes. The Miss Sunnyside Program dates back to 1950. The first queen was Arla May Haney. Before that, the community was represented by the Queen of Fete Day and Goddess of Progress Princess programs. The first ambassador was Ruthanna Poore, who was named Queen of Fete Day in 1932. The 2015-16 Miss Sunnyside court, Jessica Linde and princesses Lucero Mejia, Jaquelinne Herrera-Bravo and Alyssa Ceja, are supported by the men and women serving behind the scenes. Their parents and nine board members work tirelessly to make sure the girls have the proper attire for parades and community events. Those volunteers also spend hours preparing for the annual pageant, Director and Head Chaperone Teri Alvarez-Ziegler said. This year’s pageant to take place Sept. 17 is her 11th. Last year, Diana Kilian-Blumer was named co-coordinator, assisting AlvarezZiegler with many of the finite details of ensuring the program operates successfully. The president of the board is Sharon Dolan, Alvarez-Ziegler said. “The board begins preparing for the pageant weeks well in advance,” she said. The logistics of each year’s pageant include choosing a theme, reserving the Sunnyside High School auditorium, having tickets and programs made, selling tickets, getting a stage crew

coordinated, conducting grade checks, purchasing outfits for the opening number, selecting and arranging music, locating judges and decorating. Months before, potential candidates are recruited, Alvarez-Ziegler said. “It’s all volunteers,” she said. The hairdressers and auditors at the pageant also donate their time and products, Alvarez-Ziegler said. “It’s a lot,” she said. The families of the candidates also must volunteer time and efforts, committing themselves to the needs of the court. The larger time commitment involves giving up most Saturdays during the parade season, AlvarezZiegler said. The parents and families help the court design and build a float each year. As soon as the float is revealed to the community, the season begins. Typically, there are 17 to 18 parades each year, Alvarez-Ziegler said. That means the court members, chaperones and families are up before the sun, driving to various destinations throughout the state. Parades are a chance for other communities to see the results of all the hours and effort that went into the Community Float. It is also a chance for the girls and their families to interact with other people who might otherwise not know anything about Sunnyside. The program is about promoting the community, but also promoting education, Alvarez-Ziegler said. “It’s a scholarship program,” she said. Each candidate, regardless of whether they serve on the court, is awarded a $50 scholarship. “It’s not a lot. I wish it were more. But if it helps pay for a book, it’s

Obbed Hernandez/Jas & Ob Photography

The 2015-16 Miss Sunnyside court — Jessica Linde, Lucero Mejia, Jaquelinne Herrera-Bravo and Alyssa Ceja — stand in front of the Sunnyside Museum.

see “Ambassador” Page 9

Teri Alvarez-Ziegler

Teri Alvarez-Ziegler

The 2015-16 Miss Sunnyside court, friends and family members clean the Lower Valley Pathway as Miss Sunnyside Jessica Linde’s community service project.

Miss Sunnyside Jessica Linde sings Christmas carols with Sunnyside Museum Board member Pat Kezele, left, Joni Fannin, at piano, and a young community member.


September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 9

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something,” Alvarez-Ziegler said. The queen receives a $1,300 scholarship. “We award about $4,500 in scholarships,” she said. The practice of awarding the candidate scholarships began about five years ago. Alvarez-Ziegler said the board agreed to it because of all the effort the candidates put into the program throughout the summer months. The candidates practice once a week leading up to the pageant, they attend community events and participate in the Grandview Community Parade. Throughout the year, the court and the board members keep busy, AlvarezZiegler said. Finances must be maintained and seasonal attire must be purchased. Schedules are rearranged to accommodate community events and ribbon cuttings, as well as presentations to civic groups. The court also must complete a community service project. This year, the program had an unexpected expenditure when it needed to purchase its own insurance. “We had insurance through the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce,” she said. With the dissolution of the chamber, the program had to pay about $5,000 for insurance. Alvarez-Ziegler said

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The 2015-16 Miss Sunnyside court travels the Marysville Parade route on the community float. Sunnyside Community Hospital, which serves as a corporate sponsor, helped cover the insurance cost. “The hospital is really good to us,” she said, noting the annual royalty luncheon on the day of the pageant is sponsored by the hospital, as well. Ultimately, she said, the program is community supported and AlvarezZiegler said the volunteers “… are amazing.”

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10 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

Legacy of former student continues by Jennie McGhan

GRANDVIEW — The landscape at a local park continues to be popular for recreationalists. Dykstra Park is a well-known and used landmark, but the addition of a Frisbee golf course nearly eight years ago now makes it a destination. The course was the idea of Jake Wagner, a former Grandview High School student. During his senior year, he approached City Council, asking permission to establish the course. Having moved to the community from Springfield, Ill. a few years before, Wagner developed a fascination with the pastime. There were courses in the TriCities and Yakima in 2008, but none in the Lower Yakima Valley. Wagner developed a plan to purchase baskets and nine holes for his senior project. Community members sponsored the holes, helping Wagner purchase the baskets. The City Council approved the project, which was supported by Parks and Recreation Director Mike Carpenter. Wagner also raised funds for several sets of discs, consisting of drivers, range discs and putters. Those were donated to the city and community members can check them out at the Community Center. The course was installed about 10 months after Wagner proposed the idea. Installing the baskets along the course were volunteers from Grandview Christian Church. Wagner had already graduated and enlisted in the Navy before the completion of the project. The regulation course consists of four par-4 and five par-3 holes. It is set up for people of all ages,

Daily Sun file photo

Grandview Rotarian Jan McDonald, left, takes a picture of Tom Miller standing next to the “hole” while Rick Smith watches. providing recreationalists one more way to enjoy the park. Carpenter said the goal of hosting tournaments has become a reality. The local Rotary Club has hosted one the past couple of years. But, opportunities for more challenging tournaments are on the horizon as the city looks to expand the course to 18 holes. “It’s a community-driven effort,” Carpenter said, noting community members George Saenz and David Rodriguez spearheaded the effort for expansion. He said the duo garnered commitments from local businesses and helped to raise funds for nine additional holes, all of which are sitting at the Public Works

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Department awaiting installation. The baskets for the holes will be installed this fall with assistance from Rotarians, who collected donations, as well. “What’s really special is the holes will be more challenging, suitable for intermediate and advanced players,” Carpenter said. The design of the course focused on safety and “… not encroaching on other amenities,” he said. Rotarians are excited about the future of the course because there is a belief it will attract more disc golfers, Carpenter said. “I think we will find general use increase, as well,” he said. “It’s going to be more enticing.”

Daily Sun file photo

At last year’s Grandview Rotary Club disc golf scramble tournament team leader Mike Carpenter tosses a range disc on a par-3 hole.

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September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 11

Granger celebrates dinosaur tradition by John Fannin

GRANGER — Fred Flintstone would feel right at home in this Lower Yakima Valley community, which this year constructed its 32nd dinosaur. The dinosaur theme is evident throughout the city, from Interstate 82 to Hisey Park. The entire community is invited each

Daily Sun file photo

Granger employee Grant Rhode attaches chicken wire to the belly of the city’s latest dinosaur.

year to apply cement to the dinosaur’s frame. The frame and much of the preparation for the annual Dino-N-A-Day is completed weeks beforehand by city public works employees. And they’re resourceful when it comes to building each dinosaur. “We don’t have to invest a lot of money in it,” Public Works Director Jodie Luke said. The rebar and wire are all collected from scraps accumulated during the city’s annual spring clean-up, Luke said. He estimates it takes about three days to build the dinosaur’s frame. Part of the preparation work includes applying a coat of cement to each dino’s belly before the community comes together to build the creature. “We don’t want wet cement dripping on the kids when they work on it,” Luke said. The big day draws more than 100 dinosaur builders from throughout the Yakima Valley. City Clerk Alice Koerner said the event brings the community together in adding to Granger’s dinosaur legacy.

(509) 839-7678 www.portofsunnyside.com

Daily Sun file photo

Volunteers from as far away as Selah turned out to help build Granger’s 32nd dinosaur in June.

Former Golden Coin Building, 501 E. Edison Ave

We are constantly looking for new opportunities to enhance and improve our community. The recent purchases of downtown buildings will add value to our local economy while promoting entrepreneurial growth and supporting local business. Artist Rendering of completed wine tasting room

Port of Sunnyside announces plans to purchase Funny Farm property on February 16, 2016


12 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

Local theater group focuses on the arts by Jennie McGhan

PROSSER — A local group formed 55 years ago has set its sights on bringing performing arts to the Lower Yakima Valley. Valley Theater Company, which purchased the Princess Theatre four years ago, has been alive and strong since 1961. Bob and Pat Osland started Valley Musical Comedy Company in Sunnyside. They contacted people in the community who were interested in producing a musical for residents. The first production, “Oklahoma,” was staged at Lincoln School in Sunnyside, board member Paul Brooks said. He has been involved in the theater group for about 30 years, and said there was one production each year when it began. He has served in nearly every role the group has, including president of Valley Theater Company, acting, directing and producing. “We wanted to expand beyond musicals,” Brooks said of the change in the group’s name. “It was a risk because we weren’t sure if there would be actors interested in performing non-musicals and we didn’t know whether an audience would appreciate the change,” he said.

Daily Sun file photo

Duane Raitt and Joyce Taylor dance the Highland Fling during a Valley Musical Comedy Company’s 1965 rehearsal of the musical “Brigadoon.”

As it turns out, community members responded well and the group now stages four performances each year. “We’ve had more than 105 shows, some repeats,” Brooks said. One of those repeats is the Christmas production of “A Christmas Carol,” which was traditionally staged every other year. Brooks said the group has expanded the rotation to include other productions like this year’s “A White Christmas” to provide more variety. “Growth has been good for the company and the community,” Brooks said. Since its inception, the group has placed an emphasis on providing residents with opportunities to appreciate the arts. Additional performing arts groups have grown from the company’s exposure, such as Over the Hill Theatricals and the Prosser Children’s Theater Conservatory. Both groups have had access to the Princess Theatre since Valley Theater Company purchased it. The children’s program brings children’s performances to the valley and gives youngsters opportunities “… to explore drama with educational principles,” Brooks said. Expanding has also helped regular performers. “It keeps them from getting burned out,” he said. Providing a balance of different productions gives the actors the chance to pick and choose which shows they want to pursue. A number of faces have also been added to the group as performers include individuals living anywhere from Yakima to the Tri-Cities. “A lot of the actors like coming to that theater (the Princess) because it’s small and intimate,” Brooks said. The theater purchase has benefited the community in other ways. “We found the stage was needed,” he said. The company staged its performances at the Sunnyside High School auditorium for many years, but found it was sometimes difficult to stage productions around the high school’s calendar. “Owning the theater outright also means we don’t have to pay for use of the stage,” Brooks said. Other groups are also provided access to the stage. They include Trinity Dance Prosser and Valley’s Got Talent.

Daily Sun file photo

Embroiled in a romp of mistaken identities in the 2014 production of “Lend Me a Tenor” are (L-R) Maggie (Aimee Coorengel), Julia (Heather Ruane), Max (Bill Boge) and the bellhop (Joseph Charvet). The group schedules movies for families and was able to host a Pokemon 2000 showing during a recent community event, Brooks said. “Sharing the arts is, it’s important to realize, not just about theater but all the arts,” Brooks said. He said there are a lot of dreams for the future, including improvements to the facilities for the performers and the public. The group wants to provide performers better dressing room facilities and is looking at installing a commercial kitchen for special events and catering. “We envision better signage since neon signs aren’t easy to find,” Brooks said, adding better office facilities are also planned. “There are a lot of ways we would like to expand the stage,” he said. The group also wants to provide outside groups with greater access, including writers wanting to test out their materials, Brooks said. He said the company has hopes of one day hosting high school drama

workshops like Inland Northwest Theatre Arts Festival and other events that promote the arts. “Our overall goal is to have fun and produce theater,” Brooks said.

Daily Sun file photo

Actors Ben Riley, James Espinoza, Danny Mendoza and Sara Waywell learn a little choreography during auditions for this year’s Valley Theater Company’s holiday production of “White Christmas.”


September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 13

Desire to meet community needs leads to business success by Jennie McGhan

GRANDVIEW — A local woman is on a mission to improve the livelihood of people living in the Lower Yakima Valley. Gloria Mendoza opened GMC Training Institute in 1999 to help people gain skills for the workforce. The business opened with just a few programs, but those programs provided individuals a leg up in life, she said. Commercial Driver’s License training, computer skills, GEDs and English as a Second Language classes were among the offerings when the business opened. Those classes remain as the business’ foundation, Mendoza said. Throughout the years, she said she has listened to students and looked for opportunities to provide additional programs that may be needed. A few years ago, Mendoza began offering training in customer service. She is able to provide on-the-job training for students via the Vineyard Café. “They gain skills as a cashier,” she said. They also learn how to prepare lattes, beverages and food served at the café. A new program is launching this month. Mendoza has enlisted the expertise of Lupita Michel to offer nutrition and fitness classes. Students enrolling in the program will learn about nutrition and healthy lifestyles, Mendoza said. The idea sparked when she was speaking with a graduate of the commercial driving course. He has been driving long distances and developed poor nutrition habits, jeopardizing the medical card he is required to have to maintain his license. Mendoza said she hadn’t considered proper nutrition as a concern for the truck drivers trained at the institute before. After discussing opportunities with Michel, a program idea developed. Not only can students learn about proper

nutrition and developing healthy habits, but a class for people interested in entering the health and fitness industry is being offered. “We are opening it up to 10 people initially,” Mendoza said. Michel said she will help those enrolled in the three-month course learn how to work with others, as well as develop a business plan so they might open up an independent business. “We’re looking for the right people because we want to work with people who want to invest in the community, as well as themselves,” Michel said. “They have to be committed and willing to walk the talk.” Mendoza said any time a person is trained for the workforce, the goal is for them to become successful. When she opened the institute, it was with the idea of meeting needs in the community. Mendoza had been employed by Washington State Migrant Council, providing job training. However, the training wasn’t offered to everyone and it was in Yakima. “I love to see people learn and make a comfortable living,” she said. Realizing she wanted to make a difference for people living in her hometown and the Lower Yakima Valley, Mendoza opened the doors to her longstanding business. “We survived the economy when things were not going well because we learned to be diverse,” she said. “The hardest part of operating a business is there isn’t anyone there to tell you how to be successful.” Creative thinking, marketing, developing relationships and taking care of “the little factors” like availability kept her going. “If you don’t do the essentials, providing good customer service and marketing, you won’t succeed,” Mendoza said. “You have to be willing to knock on

Gloria Mendoza/special to the Daily Sun

GMC Training Institute instructor Alex Sanchez, left, prepares a forklift for a student enrolled in the forklift certification program. doors and advertise.” Competition also forced her to be creative, she said. When the institute first opened there weren’t any other schools offering commercial driver training. In the past few years, a couple of other schools have opened, but that caused her to seek new programs for people in the

community. “If you nurture and take care of your business, it will do well,” Mendoza said. That’s why the newest program will also serve as an incubator for those students who complete it. “You help it grow that way,” she said. “If I hear a need, I ask myself, ‘How can I do more?’,” Mendoza said.

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14 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

Sunnyside family fires up the pizza business Story and photos by Julia Hart

SUNNYSIDE — The sweet smell of wood fire and roasted vegetables filled the air at the Farmer’s Market this past summer. Known for his complex cooking style, Chris Guerra of Sunnyside shared his passion for fresh food at the Wednesday afternoon market with simple presentations of wood-fired pizzas cooked in an oven mounted to the bed of a 1950’s-era pick-up. The dome-shaped pizza oven reached temperatures of more than 700 degrees to quickly cook the pizza for market shoppers. Cooking food alfresco style is a family tradition for the young man. The son of Lino and Hilda Guerra, he has been a part of the Guerra’s Gourmet Catering business for more than 25 years. Chris Guerra prides himself on finding local and fresh produce for the Guerra Catering company he manages along with his father, Lino, and brothers, Aaron, Geraldo and Fabian. All of the brothers know how to turn out a five-star meal, thanks to their parents’ training, Guerra said. As a child, his job was picking all types of vegetables for the catering events his family did around the area. He quickly began learning culinary tricks and skills working alongside

his father, who started the first Pacific Northwest Chili Festival at their north Maple Way farm. As the local wine industry grew the Guerra family soon found itself pairing food with area wineries and a new brand of catering was born – a brand Chris Guerra has taken to wholeheartedly. When not hanging out at local farmer’s markets, his food can be found being served at local wineries. Most notably, Guerra foods, including the now popular seasonal vegetables served with Belgioioso Gorgonzola pizza, at Dineen Winery in Zillah. Just as he does for all of his catering affairs, Guerra’s searches out the freshest, locally-grown produce he can find. He said growing up on the family farm, he and his brothers learned to appreciate the farmer’s work and value the quality of fresh produce straight from the farm to the table. “These lessons taught us the value of family and how food connects all together. That is why we keep every ingredient fresh and local and the result is honest, real food, all our dishes made from scratch,” Guerra said. The passion for fresh produce carries over into every dish. He frequently lists the sources for produce and meats used in his dishes on the menus he provides see “Pizza” Page 15

Chris Guerra prides himself on finding local and fresh produce for his catering business.

Locally-sourced goat cheese, basil and tomatoes are among the flavors to be found in Chris Guerra’s Margherita wood-fired pizza.

Fresh vegetables of all colors and description can be found in Guerra’s Neapolitan-style pizzas.


September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 15

Make Neighborhood Health Sunnyside Your One-Stop Health-Care Home

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Apple wood logs add flavor to Guerra’s pizzas.

Pizza continued from page 14

his customers. For example, at the Sunnyside Farmer’s Market, Guerra paired vegetables from market vendors with Walla Walla onions from Grandpa’s Farm in Pasco, along with fresh chorizo cured in pineapple vinegar from Azteca Meat Market in Sunnyside. The result was his Cherry chorizo, spring Walla Walla onion and goat cheese pizza. Throughout the season, Guerra prepared fresh from the-farm-tothe-plate meals at Cultura Winery, Dineen’s Vineyard, and at special events at Bale Breaker Brewing Company in Yakima. Chris Guerra’s portable brick-lined, tile-covered oven turns out his signature wood-fired pizzas.

Family medicine, pediatrics, dentistry pharmacy, optical, maternity support, mental health, help with insurance and basic needs like housing and transportation.

And coming in October to Granger a new family dental clinic, across the street from our medical clinic at 111/112 Main St. This 1950-era pick-up serves as the bed for Guerra’s wood fired pizza oven.

Dental: 383-6172 Medical: 317-2182


16 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

Homegrown event organized by hometown people by Jennie McGhan

SUNNYSIDE — A national event hosted locally is due to the effort of volunteers who are enthusiastic about motorcycle competitions. For the past six years John Nyboer, Kent and Kathy Tramel and several others have exceeded their own expectations for the Northwest Nitro National Hillclimb. The event takes place each spring on the Tramel’s property at the state Highway 24 junction with state Highway 241. The group has attracted professional hillclimb competitors, including Jason Smith and Travis Whitlock. Bret Peterson of Team Peterson is also a major part of the action at Dry Creek Recreation Area each year. “Bret is our hill designer,” Nyboer said. For those not familiar with the hillclimb event, competitors from throughout the Pacific region, including Canada and Wyoming, take part in climbing a nearly vertical hill about 1,000 feet on different classes of motorcycles. “We even had a competitor from Europe this year,” Nyboer. The competition is one of six sanctioned by the North American Hillclimbers Association.

Daily Sun file photo

Joe Shipman of Cottonwood, Calif. climbs the hill for first place at Dry Creek Recreation Area in the 0-450cc pro main event last year.

Daily Sun file photo

Geoff Dietz, Tony Andreas, Jeff and Missy Snipes, John Nyboer and John Alba, left to right, stand with the 2014 North American Hillclimbers Association Promoter of the Year Award presented in Las Vegas. But, it wouldn’t be possible without Nyboer and the other organizers pulling together each year, making the hill more challenging and adding competitive events. A new event expected in the next couple years will be the Peterson Cup, the brainchild of Bret Peterson — injured at this year’s event, Nyboer said. “The event was supposed to debut in 2017, but officials decided to hold off on it,” he said. In 2014, the King of the Hill Cash Climb event was added to the local competition. Peterson was the winner in 2015. “It made history because it’s the first time ever four or five bikes climbed the course at the same time,” Nyboer said. He said Peterson has become integral to the organizational team. “He’s part of the family,” he said of Peterson. Nyboer is seemingly at the head of the family as he is the person who speaks to the community, promoting the event locally. He seeks to connect people to the event and is the spokesman when organizers seek funding from the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. However, Nyboer said he is just one

Daily Sun file photo

Brett Reinhardt of Kent is one of several riders who had trouble with the second jump at the base of the hill in 2014. His rear tire hit the wrong spot before he took a spill. of many people working toward the event’s success. The team, including Tony Andreas, spends hours on the hill, transporting large tanks that are filled with water for dust abatement on the course. “Andreas is the master dirt worker,” Nyboer said.

John Alba, a Grandview business owner and partner, uses his company’s water trucks and excavation equipment to create courses for the various races that take place. Many of the organizers grew up in the Lower Yakima Valley. They

see “Homegrown event” Page 17


September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 17

Homegrown event continued from page 16

remember the days when Evil Knievel spent time in the community and also participated in events at the recreation area. They remember motocross competitions being a mainstay in the community, Nyboer said. “Sunnyside has a rich history in motorcycle sports,” he said. “Hill climb events at Dry Creek Recreation Area date back to the 1960s.” The current event started because Jeff Snipes remembered taking part in competitions with his father all those years ago. “As the story goes, Jeff posted something on Facebook after NAHA contacted him, looking for property for a competition. He reached out to the community and someone contacted Kurt Tramel,” Nyboer said. Tramel agreed to allowed the first Nortwest Nitro National Hillclimb to take place on the recreation area in 2011. “There were about 1,500 people in attendance that first year and more

than 4,500 this year,” Nyboer said. “It is growing and our goal is to be a nationally televised event.”

Daily Sun file photo

Jason Smith, winner of the 750cc pro main race in 2015, gets air on the hill.

Daily Sun file photo

Irv Schneider of Tillamook, Ore. was uninjured in this 2014 crash.

Benton REA

Benton Rural Electric Association Providing Safe & Reliable Electric Power to Members Since 1937

1936 Rural Electrification Act is signed by FDR making millions of dollars worth of loans available to private, public and cooperative utility ventures

1937 1937 Benton REA is incorporated in April making the REA the oldest operating consumer-owned utility serving Benton & Yakima Counties

1940 1940

1938 1938 Benton REA flips the switch for the first time lighting 89 rural farms allowing farmers to retire their kerosene lamps and step into the modern age

Benton REA extends power lines to rural areas around Toppenish, Wapato and shortly thereafter to the Roza area

1946 1946 PUD District No. 1 Benton PUD condemns PP&L’s distribution system and Benton REA provides oversight and manages Benton PUD through 1947

1948 1948 Bonneville Power Association begins providing wholesale power to Benton REA

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1949 Benton REA extends power to rural farmers in Horse Heaven Hills, Paterson, and Plymouth

Today Benton REA provides electrical service to 11,400 members, has 2,200 miles of line, 23 substations and serves portions of Benton, Yakima and Lewis Counties


18 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

Fair and rodeo tradition nearly 90 years strong Walter Clore among event’s former judges by Jennie McGhan

GRANDVIEW — For nearly 90 years, Yakima Valley residents have celebrated agriculture, hardworking youngsters and tradition at their own fair and rodeo. The Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo got its start as the Harvest Festival in 1928, celebrated on property now occupied by Yakima Valley College. Community members gathered to showcase animals, local produce and their animals. In 2009, the city celebrated its centennial. Jess Hall and Don Olmstead Sr. provided a presentation about the team pulls that were part of the festival. Hall said the horses were categorized in two divisions, lightweight and heavyweight. He said he had a team of mules he had purchased from Hal Worth. Those mules, Molly and Polly, were wellknown in the community. Olmstead said the idea of a team pull was that of Howard Jackson. He made a sled for the sole purpose of competing with horse teams. That original sled has been restored, courtesy of “Mr. Freepons.” It is on display at the current site of the Yakima Valley Fairgrounds at Grandview’s Country Park. “He (Jackson) got the farmers involved in the team pulls,” shared Olmstead. He said the first event started in front of what is currently Grandview’s Rider’s Hardware store on “Main Street.” More than 12,000 people were estimated to have trekked to Grandview in 1938 for the purpose of watching the parade. That year, there were approximately 150 parade entries, including the Cle Elum Drum and Bugle Corps. Walter Clore judged the fruit exhibits and Fred Olmstead was the chairman of the festival that year. Cathy and Willard Mears were part of the 2009 presentation. Mrs. Mears has participated in the fair since 1954. “It was something to behold,” she said People came from “far and wide” to visit the fair.

Mears said there were carnival rides and a bleacher area. The Miss Grandview Pageant drew large crowds and took place during the fair. Also popular at the fair was entertainment, which one year featured recording artist Barbara Mandrell. The food booths were also popular and included groups from the United Methodist Church, the Mormon Church and several other organizations. Mears said there was a friendly competition between the various organizations and those working the booths would work to entice the crowds. “The people have changed a lot since, but the fair has had a great impact on those who have participated in it,” said Mears. Today the fair includes a rodeo, which draws people from throughout the region. It’s all volunteer-driven, Fair and Rodeo Board President Yvonne Graham said. The board has been working hard to improve the grounds at Country Park, making them more suitable for competitors and exhibitors. She and her husband, Luke, became involved when the open exhibit barn was nearly closed in 2007. “They needed someone to run it,” Graham said. She was an exhibitor, having entered crafts, sewing projects and canned goods for more than a decade. Graham volunteered to run the barn and her husband helped her. He soon found himself helping with repairs to the livestock barns. Mrs. Graham, a few years later, decided to join the board. She said the board is responsible for planning the annual event — starting to brainstorm and discuss potential changes almost immediately after the conclusion of the current year’s event. “We want to restructure the board, creating committees,” Graham said. The establishment of committees would assist the current board members in planning and organizing the event. For instance, there are community members who may be interested in entertainment, marketing or activities for children. Those people could become committee members, bringing see “Fair and rodeo” Page 19

Daily Sun file photo

Alison Dragoo takes a break next to her two goats at the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo.

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September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 19

Pool improvements a partnership by Jennie McGhan

GRANDVIEW — Finding solutions for improvements to an aging pool isn’t easy when a city has to hold tightly to its purse strings. One group, however, has been working to find those solutions via partnerships, hard work and creative thinking. The Grandview Pool Committee formed in 2014 and began brainstorming ideas for making improvements to the city pool, which was constructed in 1955. They have been working with city staff, council members and community leaders to make amenities better for residents. Two failed bond initiatives, the last one in 2005, for an aquatics center in the community left city leaders scratching their heads. In 2009 a committee was prepared to present ideas for a small scale project, featuring a six-lane, 25-yard pool. But, the City Council wasn’t prepared to consider the ideas due to a decline in the economy. The current committee formed and began developing ideas they believed they would be able to get behind. They rolled up their sleeves and presented a

three-phase improvement plan to the City Council. Although worried whether or not the committee would truly roll up its sleeves and back up its claims there were volunteers and businesses willing to help with the project, the City Council approved $65,000 for the first phase of the five-year plan April 14, 2015. The approval excited the committee members, Chairwoman Carolyn Vining said. The first phase of the project was completed prior to this year’s summer swim season. New lighting in the parking lot, and paint, fixtures, flooring and skylights were added to the pool house, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Carpenter said. “A lot of the improvements include amenities that can be repurposed,” he said, noting the stainless steel fixtures can be easily used in a new bathroom facility, if needed. “The first phase was mostly possible because of the volunteer efforts,” Carpenter said. Vining, Tony Cromwell and other committee members, as well as members of the community put a lot of work into the improvements, he said.

“The people on the committee didn’t just state what they wanted done, but they were part of the solution,” Carpenter said. Vining said the committee is passionate about the pool and its benefit to the community. The second phase of the project is expected to be complete before the 2017 swim season, she said. “The second phase is taking a little longer,” Vining said. “There was one bid and it was higher than expected.” As a result, the city split the second phase of the project into three different bids. Vining said that opens the project to local contractors “… which is what we wanted all along.” To be completed will be new fencing surrounding a large area, a doubleflume slide, foot washing stations and new lighting around the pool, Carpenter said. The lighting is needed to meet standards determined by the state’s Department of Health, if the pool is to be operational at night, he said. “That was another surprise,” Vining said. “It’s been exciting to see the first phase completed and we are looking forward to seeing the second part of the plan will be done, too,” Vining said.

The final phase of the project, however, requires additional creativity, she said. “It’s up in the air what will happen to make it possible,” Vining said. Planned is the addition of a wading pool and an overall renovation or replacement of the current pool tank, she said. A study of the current tank was completed by an engineer who specializes in pools. Vining said it was found the current tank is viable. As a result, the committee needs to present estimated costs for both a renovation and replacement. At that point, she said the City Council will be able to make an informed decision regarding how the improvements can be funded. “It could actually be a couple of years out before the last part of the plan is completed,” Vining said. Also being considered are whether the pool house will remain in its current location and whether it is feasible to get a cover for the pool to operate year around, she said. Vining said the good news is the facility improvements are already making a difference and the committee is committed to making the pool a place everyone can enjoy.

Fair and rodeo continued from page 18

ideas to the board, Graham said. The livestock director could use assistance from people interested in organizing the RV parking, collecting record books and ordering supplies, she said. “It creates the potential for other people in the community to get involved in their particular area of interest without taking on a heavy burden,” Graham said. In the past year, the board purchased land adjacent to the livestock and rodeo grounds for the ease of RVs. Graham said it has plans for new fencing, water and electricity to the area for the campers. “We just finished leveling the area,” she said. There are many challenges to organizing the fair each year.

“Contacting people early to get them booked is important… the premium book has to be printed in the spring… we have to decide what vendors and entertainment we want,” Graham said. Those elements are particularly important for next year’s milestone celebration. “The more people who get involved, the easier it is,” she said. “That’s why we are looking for people to serve on the committees.” Graham said anyone in the Yakima Valley can get involved because the fair and rodeo is not a Grandview-run event. It is an event for everyone from Selah to Prosser. “There are people in Sunnyside who haven’t even been… it’s everyone’s fair and rodeo.”

Daily Sun file photo

Trick rider Rylee McMillan rides the rodeo arena during a short break in competition at the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo.


20 - Daily Sun News

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

September 14, 2016

FruitSmart growth continues Company started in a basement by Jennie McGhan

GRANDVIEW — In 1982, the owners of one local company couldn’t imagine a simple idea would lead to large-scale success. FruitSmart owner Jim Early and his partner Jim Gauley started their company, originally BRB Seeds, in a basement. That company is now an integral part of the local economy. In 2010, the company was operating at a location near the Prosser Airport, but Early and Gauley decided to expand to the current location on Euclid Road, a former Safeway processing plant. Early, at the time, said, “You spend a million hours scratching yourself out of the basement, trying to create critical mass… if you’re lucky, enough growth starts to happen.” In the basement, he and his partner dried fruit bi-products to extract seeds and other specialty products. As the company grew, so too did the need for expansion. The name of the company changed in 2000, meeting the demands of the market. “FruitSmart is strictly an ingredient supplier,” Early said. “We take pride in being able to offer opportunities to the community.” Before the company took over its current building in 2010, the 128,000-square foot facility had been vacant about 10 years. The company completed some remodeling and updates. The hope was to expand a beverage line using the facility, but Early didn’t envision the growth would be rapid. Current President Terry Chambers said the company now employs about 150 people at three locations. It will be adding to its headquarters in the next few years. This year FruitSmart completed the purchase of the former ConAgra/Twin City Foods processing plant in Prosser, as well as the purchase of Mayan Sun in Cowiche. About four months ago, the company purchased the former ConAgra facility, which houses cold, dry and freezer storage space, he said. “It’s to support ongoing business,” Chambers said.

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun

The first phase of FruitSmart’s three-to-five-year expansion project is under way. There are two large areas within the building once used for processing potatoes. “We haven’t decided what to do with those rooms yet,” he said. The storage space opened as a thirdparty storage facility July 1, Chambers said. “The facility is about 50 percent, minimum, utilized currently,” Chambers said. That means other processors are using the storage facility for their own products. Some equipment came with the sale, and Chambers said it will be sold. A wastewater facility is also located on the property. Chambers said it hasn’t been used since Twin City Foods sold the property to ConAgra nearly 10 years ago. “We are looking at options for it,” Chambers said. At the facility there are 11 employees, some of whom were ConAgra employees, he said. The company’s other acquisition employs six people. “It’s a small facility,” Chambers said. However, the company finds Mayan Sun is a complimentary business to its dry ingredients division, producing dried fruit products that are cut, chopped or sold as “nuggets.” The Grandview facility uses biproducts from fruit processors, such as strawberry, raspberry and grape seeds, to make “value-added products,” Chambers said.

The products are used in baked goods and nutritional products. Grape seeds are used for grape seed oil, and the strawberry and raspberry seeds are used in foods like nutrition bars or fruit snacks “… if they want fruit identity in it,” he said. At the Cowiche facility, whole fruits are processed and dried for use in products like cereal, baked goods or snack foods, Chambers said. “It’s a very similar application,” he said. The facility is small right now, but Chambers said the company hopes to grow it as the market demands. At the headquarters, Chambers said a 3 to 5-year venture has begun. The city vacated a portion of Bonnieview Road between Euclid Road and the railroad tracks last year, which allows expansion to take place. A new central office will be constructed at the end of the venture, but many other changes are already under way. Chambers said the first phase of the project involves the installation of a new scale facility, fencing, curbing and asphalt. “We will be removing the old roadway and scale,” he said. There will be a new multi-bay tanker loading station, a new tank room and renovations to the existing tank room, Chambers said. That work is planned in the next fiscal year.

“The expansion could add jobs across the company,” he said. When the facility first opened, about 25 people were employed there. “We try to forecast three to five years ahead,” Chambers said, noting the forecasts aren’t always clear since it wasn’t predicted the company would add the Prosser storage facility and Mayan Sun to its holdings. “We found a niche for not only specialty ingredients, but also the growth in the premium beverage market, including hard cider products,” Chambers said. “That’s what contributes to the growth of the company.” He said the company has been fortunate to have hired talented individuals to serve its customers at every level. “We produce a quality product with world class customer service,” Chambers said. Additionally, the company believes in supporting the community. It is committed, for example, to supporting the Extra Mile Student Center, matching employee contributions to the non-profit organization each year. Last year, the company and its employees donated $28,000 to the center. This year, Chambers said the company will match as much as $15,000 in community donations, as well as the match to employee donations. “It’s about supporting the future,” he said.


September 14, 2016

— Pride of the Valley 2016 —

Daily Sun News - 21

Premier event brings community together by Jennie McGhan

GRANGER — One of two local events got its start in Texas. About 13 years ago Nick Cervantes and Corrie Barrera brought the idea of sponsoring a Menudo festival to the Granger Chamber of Commerce, chamber member Carl Hurlbert said. The pair learned such an event took place in Austin, Texas and “… is a huge event,” Hurlbert said. The chamber’s board decided the event was a good idea for the community and would introduce a larger number of people to an important part of Mexican culture. There have been a number of changes in the Menudo Festival throughout the years, Hurlbert said. It has gained the attention of a large entertainment group, Tri-State Entertainment, which now promotes and organizes the Menudo Festival. “This is good because it gets a new group of people involved,” Hurlbert

said. The group, he said, is comprised of several people with ties to the Lower Yakima Valley. “A couple of them went to school with my kids,” Hurlbert said. The festival includes the popular Menudo cookoff, which gives local cooks the chance to showcase their skills in making the popular dish. Throughout the day there are family-friendly activities like a volleyball tournament, car show, local non-profit vendors and other groups sharing in the celebration. “But, the main reason it was started was to help introduce the Mexican and white communities to one another,” Hurlbert said. “I hate those two terms, but they do let you know what we were trying to accomplish.” He said it is important to share cultural experiences when living in a small community. One of the challenges was finding judges who have never tried Menudo

Daily Sun file photo

Jayleen, Jaime, Paulina and Jenny Mendez, clockwise from left, share menudo prepared at the 2014 Menudo Festival by 2013 menudo cook-off winner Gracie Maltos. before, he said. “We wanted people who would decide about how it tasted to them versus how it tastes compared to their mom’s,” Hurlbert said.

The previous year’s cookoff winner’s dish is each year the highlight of the event, he said. Bowls of Menudo are available for sale.

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September 14, 2016

Sophomore seeks to add playground to park Receives help from Seattle Seahawk by Jennie McGhan

MABTON — A 15-year-old has set her sights on improving one of the city’s parks. Kaitlyn Ott is a sophomore at Mabton Senior/Junior High School. She said the parks have been in need of playground equipment for children in the community. “I grew up in Mabton,” she said, noting there were few opportunities for her to enjoy the city’s parks when she was younger because of a lack of playground equipment. Ott decided to commit Ott to a community service project, raising the money needed for a new playground at City Park. “When I envision a park, I envision a place filled with kids and entire families,” Ott said. Knowing the project would require much funding and help from others, she and her mother reached out to Seattle Seahawk Doug Baldwin. “He was excited to help us,” Ott said. She said she’s been working with Baldwin to design the park and pick out equipment. The plans are made and the blueprints are ready, she said. Now, she is looking at a goal of $100,000. Ott said she was hoping to have reached that goal by this past June so the playground could debut at Mabton Community Day. “But, we had some bumps in the fundraising and I hope to have it ready for next summer,” Ott said. She isn’t discouraged. “It’s been a long process and four years is long, but I keep thinking about the benefit to my community. “I know that when positive change happens, it becomes infectious,” Ott said. Ott is the daughter of Kendra Webby and Lupe Hudgens. She is the granddaughter of Ken and Rachel Ott of Grandview. The Ott family has a long history in Mabton. Her family has been a great influence one her, she said, with its belief in doing something more for others. “My grandparents and mom have always given back to people,” Ott said. Her mother was a substance abuse counselor when she was younger and has volunteered for several community

Kendra Webby

Kaitlyn Ott stands by old playground equipment in one of Mabton’s parks. organizations. “Whenever we would go somewhere like Seattle, I remember seeing her help homeless people,” Ott said of her mother’s generosity. “It’s the little things she did that left an impression.” Her grandparents showed their pride in the community as well. Ott said her grandfather once worked for the city and kept the parks well-maintained. “We also went to church here,” Ott said, noting the family took part in community service projects and fundraising events. She said memories of her family helping others and not focusing on themselves developed her strong desire to do something more for the community. Attending a WE Day event in the seventh grade also inspired her to think about giving back to her small community. Looking around, Ott decided the best way to do that was to commit to the playground improvement as a community service project. When she isn’t working on the project, Ott is busy with school activities. She is the Associated Student Body activities coordinator and a member of the Family Careers and Community Leaders of America. Ott is also the only member of the Mabton High School girls swim team.

Kendra Webby

Kaitlyn Ott visits with Doug Baldwin to discuss her playground equipment project.


September 14, 2016

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Daily Sun News - 23

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