Senior Times - June 2020

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JUNE 2020 Volume 8 • Issue 6

Teamsters target Tyson plant after Covid-19 spreads By Wendy Culverwell

Visiting Angels embraces tech to keep seniors safe at home Page 4

Tri-City hoteliers think outside the box as pandemic empties rooms Page 7

Happy Birthday, West Richland Page 10

MONTHLY QUIZ There are three buildings in Franklin County that are listed on the National Historic Registry. What are they? Answer, Page 9

A local union hopes the 1,450 workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Wallula will rethink collective bargaining after coronavirus spread through the workforce and killed three. Teamsters Local 839 is “absolutely” interested in representing Tyson’s beef plant workers, said Russell Shjerven, secretary, treasurer and business agent. The union represents 55 bargaining groups, including local law enforcement and UPS workers, and has about 2,100 members. It serves Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, Columbia and parts of Umatilla counties. Shjerven said current members are reaching out to family and friends who work for Tyson to start a process that could culminate in a union ratification vote supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB conducts elections if at least 30 percent of workers sign union cards. Teamsters typically requires 70 to 75 percent of workers sign a card before it presses for a vote, he said. If the effort leads to an election, a simple majority of votes cast will decide if workers unionize. Shjerven said he hopes workers will see the benefit of having an advocate in the contrast between how Tyson handled Covid-19 in Wallula to how Lamb Weston Inc. handled it at a nearby french fry plant in Pasco, where workers are union members. Lamb Weston enacted protective measures at the outset. When a worker tested positive for Covid-19 in late March, it shut the plant down. The company sent workers home with pay and brought in a contractor to sanitize it. It reopened in uTYSON, Page 2

Courtesy Hike Tri-Cities The White Bluffs area north of the Tri-Cities is one of Paul Shoemaker’s favorite places to hike. The West Richland man runs a website featuring a list of more than 50 local hikes.

Hike Tri-Cities is just what the nurse practitioner ordered By Kristina Lord

Paul Shoemaker loves the solace and beauty of the Tri-City desert landscape. A nurse practitioner with a news background and a passion for healthy living, the West Richland man is happy to share his favorite hikes and walks with the community. The 56-year-old’s passion for the outdoors and what the Tri-City area has to offer prompted him to post favorite hikes and walks online so others can enjoy

them too. Shoemaker launched HikeTriCities. com in 2010 with more than 30 hikes. Today it has more than 50 with more being added all the time. “It just grew and grew. My ultimate goal is to help people enjoy the beauty around us,” he said. Eastern Washington offers its own “special desert kind of beauty” in stark contrast to the evergreen side of the state. His list of hikes range from paved, acuHIKE TRI-CITIES, Page 3

Ben Franklin Transit, Via offer new on-demand service By Senior Times staff

Ben Franklin Transit has launched a new on-demand transit service to connect riders to the places they need to travel to most during the Covid-19 crisis. The new service—called BFT Connect—is powered by Via, a New York City-based company that provides an app, drivers and vans in cities across the world, under a $6.6 million, three-year contract approved by the Ben Franklin Transit Board of Directors earlier this year. The contract includes two one-year extensions. Originally scheduled to launch in early April as a first-and-last mile service that would extend access to public transit, it’s been temporarily trans-

formed to support residents and essential workers during the pandemic. Under normal operations, connections will include major bus stops and transit centers for a $3 fee. But normal operations have been anything but as the pandemic hit. The Richland-based transit agency is offering free BFT Connect service to pharmacies, grocery stores and health clinics with front door drop-off and pickup at selected locations. Free fares will be in place during the state of emergency until future notice. Here’s how the new service works: Riders within service zones can request a ride directly through the free Via mobile app, which will direct passenuCONNECT, Page 14


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April and shut down a second time, for about four days, when a second worker tested positive. The virus that causes Covid-19 spread further at Tyson, affecting at least 17 percent of workers and inspiring a petition to close the plant. Wallula closed for 12 days beginning in late April, after a worker had died. As of mid-May, there were 250 positive tests at Tyson, said the BentonFranklin Health District. Only longterm and senior-care facilities had more—334 confirmed cases. “That just shows the difference,” Shjerven said. “They just need a union.” Lamb Weston downplayed the union’s role. “Our response to the positive cases in Pasco was based on company protocols we put in place in early March, and although we did notify the union of our plans, the protocols were not influenced by the union,” said Shelby Stoolman, spokeswoman for the Eagle, Idaho, potato giant. “We’ve used consistent protocols to respond to cases at other facilities, both union and non-union, as well.” Shjerven said the pandemic highlights the value of collective bargaining. Union leaders worked with employers such as UPS and law enforcement to ensure workers had masks and other protective gear and could keep six-foot distances between colleagues. He hopes nonunion workers will see the benefit. “I think we’re getting to the ‘The Jungle,’ ” he said, referring to the influential Upton Sinclair exposé of work-

Courtesy Tyson

ing conditions faced by voiceless immigrants in the meatpacking industry released in 1905-06. “Without a union to make their employer do the right thing, many workers in essential industries in Washington are stuck relying on the goodwill of their bosses to keep them safe. Many are finding that goodwill to be in extremely short supply,” Shjerven said in a blistering April message comparing Tyson and Lamb Weston. Tyson, based in Springdale, Arkansas, did not respond by deadline. However, it issued a letter to companywide employees on its website in which it promised to keep feeding Americans. “At Tyson, we are proud of you, our team members, and the work you are doing to help feed America. And, we want you to know that your safety is our top priority during this national crisis,” it said. It also discussed safety measures in its May 4 quarterly earnings report,

in which it disclosed quarterly net income of $367 million on $10.9 billion in sales, compared to $430 million and $10.5 billion in sales the prior year. Beef sales accounted for $3.9 billion of sales for the quarter that ended March 28. “We have instituted safeguards that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidelines at all our facilities to protect our teams and keep our workers, families and communities safe,” wrote Chief Executive Officer Noel White. The company forecast 2 to 4 percent revenue growth in 2020 over its $42.4 billion sales in fiscal 2019. It also announced bonuses for frontline workers. The beef plant in Wallula plant has an on-and-off-again relationship with organized labor that predates Tyson Foods’ ownership. Beginning in the 1980s, Walla Walla-based Teamsters Local 556 represented workers at what was then an Iowa Beef Processing, or IBP plant. Workers decertified their union of 25 years in 2005, four years after Tyson bought out IBP. The loss of such a large shop prompted Teamsters International to merge the Walla Walla union into Pasco’s Local 839. The plant unionized again in 2009 under the banner of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1439, a move prompted by massive layoffs two years earlier. Tyson workers tossed UFCW in a 2015 election conducted by the labor relations board. They have been without representation since election results were certified in early 2016. Teamsters and UFCW have a “neutrality” agreement that precludes both from trying to organize workers after a decertification vote by the other. The neutrality phase is over, freeing Teamsters to explore how to regain its old territory in the new era of social distancing and fear of a virus that causes the deadly Covid-19. Shjerven said it is reaching out through personal connections instead of its old strategy of knocking on doors. “How do you do an organizing campaign when you can’t go door to door,” he asked. The Wallula plant is one of a dozen Tyson beef facilities that collectively process 155,000 head of cattle a week. It is the sole Tyson facility of any kind in the Pacific Northwest. Tyson controls 22 percent of the U.S. beef market.


cessible paths, like the 2.5-miler at Park of the Lakes in West Richland, to the remote White Bluffs area of Franklin County. Shoemaker ranks his hikes from easy to difficult. White Bluffs is one of his favorites. “Only a half hour or so drive from the Tri-Cities, the remote nature of this hike makes it quite appealing and you get a close-up view of the White Bluffs which you can see on a clear day from the top of Badger Mountain,” he wrote on his website. Shoemaker’s website began as a blog for family and friends. He started logging his hikes and the list grew. So, he searched for a website domain and thought was perfect place to park his top trail picks. “I started putting maps and mileage and features of the hikes and directions to trailheads and listing hike difficulty, all the things you see on the hikes now,” he said. Over the years, he’s also updated the website behind the scenes so “it has a better look on smartphones and tablets to keep up with technology,” he said.

Get active outdoors

Shoemaker is on a mission to encourage exercise, though he prefers calling it “physical activity” to avoid a negative connotation. He said a sedentary lifestyle can be devastating. And he should know. The nurse practitioner has worked at Kadlec for more than a dozen years. “I want to encourage people to share the website with others, so people can see it and utilize it and get off the couch and get on to the trail,” he said. He advises his patients to swap screen time for physically activity. If they need inspiration about where to walk, he’ll tell them about his website. “What I tell people is I’d like to see them getting out and going for walks. Walking in nature, it’s just bonus points as it improves your emotional health just to be in nature,” he said. Shoemaker said being active is more important than ever to avoid Coronavirus Sedentary Syndrome, which he says is responsible for anxiety, stress, weight gain, back, shoulder and neck pain, and more. Getting up and out and moving every day is a key way to fight it, he writes on his website. A strenuous hike isn’t necessary, as the benefit can come from a 30-minute walk. Shoemaker encourages people to be mindful about their distancing but not at the expense of being a shut-in. “My thoughts are it’s safe to go out as long as you’re practicing physical distancing. Being cooped up in a house and sitting in front of the TV for eight hours a day is not healthy. Even if they’re walking around their block,

Courtesy Hike Tri-Cities Paul Shoemaker stands near a Volkswagen bug-sized boulder of banded argillite. The erratic is a non-native rock that was rafted here during the ice flows. Shoemaker’s hike at the Rattlesnake Mountain Recreational Preserve features “some great views of some remnants of the ice-age floods that helped shape the geography of the Columbia Basin.”

an hour walk, or doing a hike on the website, it would be good,” he said. He doesn’t wear a mask when he’s out hiking but he does move off the trail to create distance. “At this point, we’ve flattened the curve and hospitals are empty. I think we can get back to life—except for those who are vulnerable. They should stay in for a while longer until we get things more settled down. People going out should practice precautions, distancing, handwashing, and if you’re sick, stay home,” he said. Physical and social health remain important to overall health, he said. “So many of the people I see in my medical practice are there because of their lifestyle choices. This is a big part of that—it is moving around,” he said. Seniors can walk around their block or the perimeter of their yard. “It’s a scary time and being in a vulnerable population, you see the numbers. But being sedentary and anxious and emotionally ill is also a very real thing as far as negative health impacts,” he said.

New hikes, trail etiquette

Shoemaker doesn’t update his list of hikes as often as he used to. He plans to add hikes near the Washington State Patrol area in south Kennewick and one near Walla Walla. In addition to the walks, his website includes a section to help identify wildflowers and tips on hiking basics and trail etiquette. Litter and vandalism sometimes force the closure of trails so it’s important hikers stay on them, he noted. The shortcuts people take make “spider veins all over,” he said. “It’s important to respect the trails that are built.” He said to heed the old saying, “Take pictures, don’t take flowers,” so others also can enjoy them. “It’s unfortunate that people don’t respect the land and then it gets closed down,” he said.

Another of his pet peeves is owners who don’t mind their dogs, particularly the stuff they leave behind. “They leave it on the side of the trail. Dogs should always be on a leash on these trails and people need to pick up after their dog. It’s an eyesore when you see it along trail and it’s all over Badger Mountain. I’m fine with dogs, as long as they’re not threatening other trail users and as long as they’re cleaned up after,” he said. Shoemaker and his wife are empty


nesters with three children and four grandkids. They moved to the Tri-Cities in 1997, so he could work as a news anchor for KEPR-TV, which he did for four years. But he decided to get out of the “rat race” of the TV news industry and pursued a nursing career. He earned an associate degree in nursing from Columbia Basin College in 2009 and became a nurse practitioner in 2018. His current schedule—three 12hour shifts—means he can devote some of his days off to cycling or hiking.

A labor of love

His website, which he calls a labor of love, has grown mostly from word of mouth. In the past 10 years, it has recorded 740,000 total visits. “Three quarter of a million visitors blows me away,” he said. He isn’t interested in making money from the venture. “I just haven’t pursued that. I’ve put up business cards at REI so people know how to look it up,” he said. Does he keep any favorite places to himself? He keeps secret the location of a rare Robinson’s onion plant and visits the area when he knows it’s in bloom. “I love the wildflowers,” he said.

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Visiting Angels embraces tech to keep seniors safe at home By Senior Times staff

A Kennewick in-home care company is deploying computer tablets and electronic assistants to help its elderly and disabled clients stay safe and connected during the coronavirus crisis. Visiting Angels, led by owner and operator Christine Rose-VanWormer, equipped its caregivers with privacy-enabled tablets to take to clients’ homes to hold virtual visits with their physicians. The tablets are programmed to follow the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA. Visiting Angels also is offering Constant Contact, an in-home network of professional-grade Alexa voice-activated assistants that assure clients can summon help if they fall or have another emergency that requires assistance. Rose-VanWormer deployed the technology to boost services as vulnerable clients hunker down to avoid exposure to coronavirus, which can lead to deadly complications for the elderly, disabled and others with underlying health conditions. But it won’t disappear when the pandemic passes. “We’ve been testing them out in the community. We’ve been having great

feedback,” Rose-VanWormer said. The tablets help clients keep in touch with their physicians, but the client isn’t expected to navigate on his or her own. Visiting Angels staff bring the gear to the client’s home and help them use the tablet during appointments. “Our staff walks the client through the whole thing. We don’t just expect them to figure it out,” she said. The caregiver can serve as an advocate during the appointment as well. The devices are programmed with software to prevent eavesdropping, keep information private and deter hackers from entering private conversations. When the session ends, the device is wiped clean so it can be used in other homes. Constant Companion is a professional version of the Alexa device. The voiceactivated devices are placed throughout the client’s home, including bathrooms where most falls occur. They’re preprogrammed with emergency information, as well as family and friends contacts. If seniors fall, they can summon help even if they’re not wearing a traditional panic button device. Rose-VanWormer and her family have lived in the Tri-Cities since 2005.

Courtesy Visiting Angels Visiting Angels, a Kennewick company that provides in-home care to elderly and disabled clients, is deploying custom-programmed tablet computers so its clients can remain in contact with their physicians.

She bought Visiting Angels after working for the prior owner when she retired. For Rose-VanWormer, it was the perfect opportunity to allow her husband, a disabled military veteran, to stay home with the children. Visiting Angels employs 120 caregivers and serves about 160 elderly, disabled and veteran clients with in-home personal care that allows them to live in their own homes rather than institutions. Home care was considered essential, so it continued to operate under Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Health order in March, which sidelined “nonessential” operations to slow the spread of coronavirus. “I’m grateful I still have my team em-

ployed,” she said. Business dropped at first. Clients’ families canceled their caregivers to protect their loved ones from the threat. It has revived as families conclude it is safer for a home caregiver to visit their loved ones than to move them to a facility. Family members typically hire Visiting Angels to help parents or other loved ones with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation and taking medication. It accepts payment through the Veterans Affairs and Community Based Services program, long-term care insurance and direct payments.


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Walkabouts restore , calm in crazy world ries lead to new discove By Wendy Culverwell & Kristina Lord

The week of June 18 marks our 13th week working from our home offices for the Senior Times. It also marks more than 65 days of walks. Our daily WFH (working from home) routine included a walk around the Tri-Cities—paved paths, sandy trails, bike routes, river edges and alley ways, through mud, rain, wind and a change of seasons. We started these walks to stay connected while our team had to be physically disconnected. It also was a way to maintain normalcy, when the world felt like it was teetering out of control in the early days of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, lapping the neighborhood near our offices off Grandridge Boulevard was a typical part of our daily lunch-hour schedule to get our bodies moving, to talk through stories and ideas, to recharge. When we started our WFH meetups on March 16, the weather was a chilly 54 degrees. We frequently shrugged on heavy jackets and gloves—but not masks. Not then. Children ordered home from school and day care accompanied us in the beginning, though they were cautioned repeatedly to steer clear of others, to mind the six-foot rule. They enjoyed getting out into the world with us, too. By March 30, we were too scared to bring them along. That’s also when we rigged up masks from old T-shirts, following a YouTube how-

to video featured in a Washington Post story. Three days later we looped two hair ties over our ears to hold in place colorful folded bandannas and cloth napkins. By the following week, we were wearing more comfortable and safer face masks. The publisher found her box of hospital face masks decorated with Hello Kitty left over from chemotherapy treatments, and the editor’s brother discovered an open package of N95 masks in his shop that he sent her. It took another week or so before we saw anyone else in the Tri-Cities wearing them regularly. In early March when we started, most of our walking conversations centered around coronavirus and wrapping our heads around what it meant, how it would affect us. We talked about our very real fears for our aging parents, our families, ourselves. These walk-and-talks also included a lot of conversations about stories for the Journal (we even found a couple along the way), challenges and successes of working from home, the latest news about coronavirus, what stores were stocking toilet paper, when we’d see our stimulus checks. But the coolest and most unexpected part has been discovering places we’ve never explored on foot. There’s scarcely a walkable park in the Tri-Cities we haven’t trekked. uWALKABOUTS, Page 6

Sacajawea State Park




WALKABOUTS, From page 5

We’ve meandered around the perimeter of the Hanford Reach museum, musing about the vacant land to the southeast and how it could be developed someday, the imposing architecture of the building and why a sidewalk ended in the middle of nowhere. We explored the abandoned and overgrown KOA campground in Columbia Park, noting the old barbecue grills standing sentry in tall weeds, the chill disc golfers we passed and an unexpected bridge over a rushing stream. As we strolled past the huge houses along the Pasco side of the Columbia River, we wondered who lived in them. When we got back to our respective offices, we looked them up on the Franklin County Assessor’s website. Pasco has its very own Millionaires’ Row, home to farmers, developers and more. We also discovered a hidden private drive featuring three huge homes that could have been along Millionaires’ Row and several undeveloped parcels owned by prominent Tri-City families tucked near Highland Grange Park behind the Kennewick branch of MidColumbia Libraries. We loved exploring Richland’s Urban Greenbelt Trail. We envi-

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sioned a slog along city sidewalks. Instead it is a delightful trek along secret trails, wetlands, pocket parks and bridges. The path took us through a busy construction site, along the Columbia River and back by Kadlec Regional Medical Center and its helipad. Along the way, we stopped for photos behind the Richland Players Theatre, posing in front of the angelic wings painted there. We visited Chamna Natural Preserve. For a river delta park, the Yakima River was surprisingly elusive. But we returned, drawn by the natural setting so in contrast to our suburban neighborhoods. From Chamna, we walked north out of the parking lot, under Interstate 182 and along the Bypass Highway to check out the Duportail Bridge construction site. A flash of color in the roadside trash caught our attention. It was our very own—and painstakingly prepared—Hanford special edition, discarded along with the April issue of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business. We noted the name on the mailing label! We met up at various points along Richland’s Leslie Groves Park. In the shadow of the city’s Water Treatment Plant on Saint Street, Pete Rogalsky, Richland’s public works director, chose that moment to call to field questions about the project to replace its blue and yellow façade. We watched dozens of fuzzy yellow goslings trailing their aloof parents at the water’s edge. We’ve met at the USS Triton Sail Park near the Port of Benton and walked through fancy condos with furtive construction workers beavering away in garages. On a lovely spring day, we had the trail and river vistas mostly to ourselves. Kennewick’s Zintel Canyon Trail caught our attention. It was the first week of irrigation season and the Seventh Street trailhead was

Photo by Kristina Lord Editor Wendy Culverwell pauses her daily work walk to conduct an interview at Leslie Groves Park in Richland.

swamped with water overflowing the channel. Ducks paddled across drowned grass. It’s a sweet hike but our shoes got muddy and a sneaky branch smacked an unsuspecting head. Yogi, our trusty trail dog companion, wasn’t keen on crossing the unsteady footbridges—and neither were we. Pasco beckoned. Osprey Pointe, home to the Port of Pasco, features a parklike campus on the area’s only low-bank waterfront. We studied the port’s quiet barge terminal and imagined transforming a lonely office building perched on piers into the Senior Times World Headquarters. We’d take care of the trees sprouting from the docks. We’d also enjoy taking care of business while enjoying the spectacular Columbia River views. We strolled by Zen Noh Hay and wondered at the vast amount of hay stacked in east Pasco. We brazenly walked past the gate barring cars from Sacajawea State Park, emboldened by the bicyclist we saw do the same thing. We found him a few minutes later, relaxing at a picnic table near the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers, not far from where

Lewis and Clark spent a night. We learned he was a retired pharmacist who regularly cycles from Horn Rapids in Richland to the park— close to 50 miles in all, a route he completes about three times a week. We got lost in W.E. Johnson Park off Van Giesen Street in Richland. Standing water covered part of the loop trail and we had to retrace our steps to pick up the path after trying unsuccessfully to find a way around it using our phones and sense of direction, neither successfully. Don’t worry, we made it back before deadline. While our WFH walks proved good for our souls and work focus, they also were a remarkable and surprising reminder about the many undiscovered and beautiful areas in the Tri-Cities that can’t be seen or experienced from behind a windshield, even for a pair of journalists who have covered the community for decades and thought they’d seen it all. Wendy Culverwell is the editor and Kristina Lord is the publisher at the Senior Times.



Tri-City hoteliers think outside the box as pandemic empties rooms By Wendy Culverwell

Tri-City hoteliers found creative and unexpected ways to stay relevant after a wave of cancellations washed over the industry on what one owner called Black Friday in March. “People are definitely thinking outside the box,” said Michael Novakovich, president and chief executive officer of Visit Tri-Cities, the region’s tourism marketing agency. He’s heard of only five hotels in the area closing after Gov. Jay Inslee issued the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order to slow the spread of coronavirus. The rest remained open as best they could, with skeletal staffs. They have adapted by welcoming health care workers and first responders, by serving contract customers such as railroad crews, and in one case, by sending staff to help a local nonprofit get off the ground. “Travel and tourism were at the front end of this. People just stopped moving around,” Novakovich said. More than 6,000 local jobs are tied to hospitality, including lodging and dining. As the pandemic emptied rooms, the industry and operators looked for fresh ways to preserve their business so they can ramp up quickly when travel and tourism resumes. A-1 Hospitality Group, a Kennewick-based hotel chain with 300 rooms locally, stayed open. It welcomed first responders and health care workers who did not want to go home to their families by offering steep discounts, said Taran Patel, managing partner for the family-owned company. In Richland, The Lodge at Columbia Point rehired workers after it secured

a Paycheck Protection Program loan through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security) Act. Rather than keep idle workers at the hotel, it paid staff to work at Grace Kitchen, a new nonprofit that is transforming the former Union Gospel Mission men’s shelter in Pasco into a center where struggling women learn skills to support themselves. A-1’s Patel said fallout from the coronavirus pandemic arrived with crushing severity. Phones rang with cancellations in mid-March as the stay-home order took hold. He called it Black Friday. The company furloughed workers but stopped short of closing its doors. Business travel continued at a muchreduced level. Leisure travel evaporated, save for the Canadian winter birds racing home before the international boundary closed. Guests may be scarce, but A-1 wanted its properties in ready-to-go form. “What we’re trying to do is keep the doors open to set the stage for a quicker recovery,” Patel said. The pandemic timing was a big challenge. A-1 opened the Courtyard by Marriott at the Tri-Cities Airport in February. The company spent four years working to ensure the Courtyard opened ahead of the busy spring sports tournament season. “We nailed it,” Patel joked. “Everyone prepares for a rainy day. No one prepares for an 80 percent drop in occupancy overnight.” The Lodge at Columbia Point had its own Black Friday, said Wendy Higgins, general manager for the 82-room boutique hotel overlooking the Columbia River. Bookings dropped to four or fewer rooms a night, she said.

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

It closed both Drumheller’s and Vine, its dine-in restaurant and lobby bar, respectively. It closed the pool and spa. It locked the doors to the patio and its steps to the Richland waterfront walkway. It had to stop letting the public use its lobby bathrooms. It could not devote staff to sanitize the facilities after each visitor, Higgins said. The Lodge is privately owned and managed by Escape Lodging of Portland. The Portland operator applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans for all its properties. The Lodge is one of the three that received it. The money let Higgins bring back furloughed staffers, but it did not fill rooms with paying guests. An employee suggested partnering with a nonprofit. Intrigued, she asked her church, Columbia Community Church, to suggest organizations that might need an extra hand from a seasoned hotel crew. It suggested Grace Kitchen, led by executive director Amanda Lorraine. Higgins was intrigued and the hotel’s owners were too.

Higgins emailed Lorraine. A few minutes later, Higgins heard a woman checking into the hotel with her husband remark on the lobby floor. “That would look good at Grace Kitchen,” the woman said. It was Lorraine. “We call it our grace moment,” Higgins said. The Union Gospel Mission gave its former men’s shelter in Pasco to the Lorraines in March for the nominal sum of $10, a show of support for their goal. They faced the daunting task of clearing it out, painting and repairing the impacts of heavy use over its decades as a men’s shelter. Progress was good and before the pandemic, Amanda Lorraine expected to bring three women on full time by late April. That was delayed and she welcomed the assist from the Lodge, one of many organizations that stepped up, she noted. Higgins shared the idea with staff. No one thought it was a bad one. Twenty-seven workers headed to uHOTELIERS, Page 8

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Photo by Wendy Culverwell A vacant parking lot surrounds the Courtyard by Marriott at Columbia Point in Richland in April.

Grace Kitchen the first day, armed with donated masks. Higgins had ordered masks for workers, but they were misdelivered to Texas. Higgins and Amanda Lorraine say it has been a positive experience for everyone. The Lodge crew regularly shows up with items to donate, even when Amanda Lorraine tells them they do not need to. Higgins predicts it is the start of a long relationship between her hotel and Grace Kitchen, which will eventually offer catering services and a full restaurant. “To come off unemployment and give back to the community, it’s been very rewarding,” she said. Bookings also have begun to pick up after dipping to one or four rooms rented a night. By late April, 40 rooms were occupied. The parking lot began to fill. Higgins said guests are Tri-Citians taking a mini break from home and children. They can order food and beverages in their rooms and recharge on their balconies. Who is minding the kids?

uBRIEF Cancer center foundation holds virtual breakfast June 9

The Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation is holding an online watch party in place of its 20th annual fundraising breakfast. The party starts at 8 a.m. June 9 and is open to the entire community. Participants can pick up breakfast at one of five participating restaurants

“I don’t ask,” she said. Patel said local demand will drive the recovery. It is not clear when Washington’s economy will return to normal. “What we’re hoping for is when things open up, there will be severe cabin fever,” he said. “Consumers will have the means to support hotels and restaurants and barbers.” The Visit Tri-Cities team is building a marketing campaign around the idea that people will want to drive to rural areas to recreate after being cooped up for months, Novakovich said. Business travel is not expected to resume soon, but the tourism industry expects leisure and sports will come back first. The Tri-Cities can draw from Seattle, Portland, Spokane and Boise, Novakovich said. It is within reasonable driving distance, small enough to register as rural and big enough to boast city amenities and strong hospitals. It is not hard to keep a six-foot distance between people. “We have wide open spaces. There’s something here for everybody,” he said. and dine while attending the program from home. The foundation will give updates on cancer care in the region. Participants can make reservations and sign up as virtual table sponsors by calling 509737-3373. The foundation supports patients and their families as they deal with the diagnosis of cancer. The event is sponsored by Leidos and Centerra, parent companies of Mission Support Alliance.


Just for Fun Crossword

Solutions on page A11

Across 1 Spud source

34 Obstructs

11 Type of balloon

35 How bodysuits fit

15 Breaking off

6 Short boxing punch

36 They go with outs

16 Plant juice

9 Roomy autos

37 Pixie

17 Sin

11 Saintly symbol 12 Accident

18 Unruly mob


19 Appraises

1 Doctrine

13 “I suppose”

2 Agnus or Opus follower

14 Match 16 Turnpike convenience 22 Solo numbers 23 Like certain organs 24 Multiply rapidly 26 Teacher

3 Sales aids, for short

29 Onetime Disney chief

20 Consume 21 Malt beverage 25 Hatfields and McCoys

4 “Baloney!”

27 Crime fighters

5 Stopping by

28 Hurried

6 Capital of Indonesia

30 Daystar

7 Cotton state

31 The Y is one

8 Early man?

27 Gratis


10 Building detail, briefly

32 Horror street 33 Cereal grass

Word search - Summer Heat
































Sudoku - Tough

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© 2020 Syndicated Puzzles

© 2020 Syndicated Puzzles

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© 2020 Syndicated Puzzles

Str8ts - Easy


© 2020 Syndicated Puzzles


How to beat Str8ts: No single number, 1 to 9, can repeat in any row or column. But rows and columns are divided by black squares into compartments. Each compartment must form a straight, a set of numbers with no gaps but it can be in any order, eg: 7, 6, 8, 9. Clues in black cells remove that number as an option in that row and column, and are not part of any straight. Rules of Sudoku - To complete Sudoku, fill the board by entering numbers 1 to 9 such that each row, column and 3x3 box contains ever number uniquely. For more strategies, hints and tips, visit and

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— Source: Franklin County Historical Society

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Happy Birthday, West Richland It’s been 65 years since 2 towns combined to form a new city

By East Benton County Historical Society

West Richland, once little more than an afterthought to its area sister communities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland, now thrives as a vibrant community in its own right. What might be best described today as the fourth city of the Tri-Cities, turns 65 years old this month. On June 13, 1955, it became Washington state’s newest incorporated community, home to some 600 residents. Five years later, it had grown to 1,347, according to the U.S. Census. In 1980, the Census registered 2,958 West Richland residents. Today, West Richland is a 22-square-mile city of more than 15,000, and has grown 65 percent in population since the year 2000. It bustles with enthusiasm and a well-entrenched identity proudly held by its residents. It has the unique feature of comprising 7,000 acres of agricultural land within its city boundaries, offering field crops, irrigated pasture, grapes,

orchards and potatoes among its farm crop inventory. The city is enhanced by its location at the entrance of the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area that is premier in the growing of grapes and in the production of wines. West Richland features two grade schools and two middle schools with enhanced modern-day features tied into the Richland School District. It once was home to the Star-Vue Drive-in Theater. In 1954 it became one of the most popular drive-in motion picture enterprises in the TriCity area. West Richland today also has an enhanced municipal golf course with links popular to area players living both within and outside the city limits. The rise of today’s modern West Richland along the meandering Yakima River not far from the confluence with the Columbia River had its beginnings in the wilderness of the Oregon Territory in which the site of today’s city once belonged. In 1853 it became part of the Washington Territory. It was that year that the Longmire Wagon Train passed through today’s site of West Richland, becoming the first to use the Naches Pass as a caravan traversing the Cascade Mountains.

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Courtesy East Benton County Historical Society The West Richland City Council met on Jan. 10, 1960. There were 1,347 residents in West Richland that year, according to the decennial Census.

For decades, Native American tribes, both inhabitant and nomadic, among them the Chemnapum and the Yakama, lived along the shores of the Yakima River where the city is now home to thousands. Today’s West Richland once was a link on the Yellowstone Trail, the first United States transcontinental automobile highway across northern-tier states from the East Coast to Seattle. It was established on May 23, 1912, through grassroots efforts and was active until 1930, by which time federal highways being built provided greater convenience for transcontinental travel. The Yellowstone Trail entered what is today’s West Richland by crossing the Fallon Bridge over the Yakima River. It had been named for Lena Fallon who petitioned Yakima County commissioners to build a bridge so youngsters could cross the river more safely to attend school. A school district had been formed in 1889, with Hannah Van Horn hired as first teacher for a salary of $1 per day. She held school in her home on the Richland side of the river before the first school house was built in 1896. Prior to the Fallon Bridge, students crossed the Yakima River in a flimsy row boat, many times in choppy water. It was in the area of today’s West Richland that in 1948 a man named Carl Heminger, and his wife, Vera, bought 80 acres with a dream of

building a modern city, according to historical accounts. It became known as Heminger City. In October 1949, residents of the community voted to name it Enterprise, though the reason why is not clear today. According to historical accounts, Carl Heminger, opposed to the change, moved about one mile to the west and began a new community, named Heminger. By late 1953, sentiment was building to combine the two communities, and businessmen of both circulated petitions. A town meeting proposed asking support for a merger of Heminger and Enterprise, with the idea of it being called West Richland. The town name of “Richland” nearby had circulated nationwide after news of the atomic bomb became public at the end of World War II. Some felt the new community would receive a boost having a name similar to that of nearby Richland. The idea did have its critics but a vote on the proposal was put to residents in March 1954 and by a count of 218-80, the community became known as West Richland. It remains so 66 years after the vote. When West Richland was incorporated 65 years ago, its first city council comprised Wesley Meyers, Bob Marlow, O.J. Hove, Opal Morton and Melvin Schultz. Its first mayor was James O. Zwicker.



Apollo Inc. building second phase of Duportail Bridge By Wendy Culverwell

Richland is preparing to move to the next phase of its $38 million Duportail Bridge project. The main phase—building the bridge over the Yakima River—is wrapping up. Now, Apollo Inc. is turning its attention to the second phase, which includes reconstructing the intersection of Duportail Street and Highway 240 and upgrading the Port of Benton railroad crossing. Kennewick-based Apollo built the first phase, breaking ground in February 2018. Its bid for the next phase was $600,000 lower than the project estimate and was the lowest of three submitted. The Richland City Council approved the contract at a May 20 meeting. The Duportail Bridge links central Richland and the city’s fast-growing south side, including the Queensgate district. It also brings a new, secure water line to serve the entire area. The bridge is on track to open as scheduled this fall, said Pete Rogalsky, director of public works.

Rogalsky said the coronavirus pandemic and Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order restricting activity to reduce the spread of the deadly Covid-19 did not interfere with the schedule. Municipal projects were unaffected by the stay-home order. Politics, not the pandemic, prompted a slight pause in the second phase. The governor ordered a temporary halt to all state-funded transportation projects in November, after Washington voters approved Initiative 976, reducing vehicle registration fees that helped pay for transportation projects. The order extended to projects such as the Duportail Bridge, which depends on gas taxes and not car tab fees. The order was lifted when the 2020 Legislature approved a $10.4 billion transportation budget that relies on existing revenue. Rogalsky said the city lost 30 to 60 days because of the order but said it did not affect the critical period when work is allowed in the river. A King County judge removed the

Photo Taryn L. Harkness The main phase of the Duportail Bridge project is nearly complete with the second phase, reconstructing the intersection of Duportail Street and Highway 240, up next. This file photo was taken July 2019.

injunction that prevented it from taking effect in March, setting the stage for further appeal. The Duportail Bridge budget includes $22.5 million from the 2015 Legislature’s Connecting Washington program, $9 million from the state Transportation Improvement Board, $2.7 million in federal funds and about $3.2 million in city funds. Richland’s car tab fees are support-

ing road maintenance and construction. The city is installing a new water main to serve south Richland as well, retiring an aging line that sits on the bottom of the Yakima. City water customers provided about $5.3 million through utility fees and a $2 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant covered the rest.

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US 11x11 Wordsearch No.309Sudoku - Summer Word search Sudoku Solution

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For more strategies, hints and tips, visit and

7 6 9 2 8 1 5 4 3

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Aviation community perplexed by CARES Act airport funds By Wendy Culverwell

Port of Pasco officials are delighted and perplexed by the $5.9 million they received from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to support the Tri-Cities Airport during the coronavirus pandemic. Airport traffic is down more than 95 percent, casting its ability to pay the bills into chaos. The government money from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act will cover the Pasco airport’s $2.1 million debt payment, which is normally paid with passenger fees, and cover seven months of operating expenses, which take between $500,000 and $550,000 a month. The port, which owns the airport, is grateful for the support. Or it was, before it saw what its less busy neighbors received. The Walla Walla and Pendleton,

Oregon, airports received $18 million and $17 million, respectively. The Wenatchee and Pullman airports also received $18 million, the same amount headed to King County International, aka Boeing Field. Marion Sweet Field in Eugene, Oregon, landed $22 million. “I don’t think anyone felt they got shortchanged until they saw the list,” said Buck Taft, the airport’s manager. While they are grateful for the money, the Port of Pasco is joining a national chorus protesting what they see as “terrible” discrepancies in how distributions were calculated. “It’s certainly not done right, the way it’s done,” said Pasco Commissioner Jim Klindworth during the commission’s regular business session on April 25, held via Zoom. The pattern was repeated across the region and the country, drawing the attention of U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee. Cohen asked the FAA administrator to suspend pay-

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

ments until a more “equitable” distribution is developed. Klindworth supported the move. Taft said it appears the payments were based on the debt and budget reserves of individual airports. The healthier the facility, the less money it received. Taft is not complaining though. The $5.9 million is at the top end of what he expected. It provides breathing room for an organization whose business model has collapsed, if temporarily, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Passenger boardings dropped by 60 percent in March. It will be down by 95 percent or more in April, he said. Airlines are canceling flights or taking off with few passengers. Fifteen is a full load. Four is common. No passengers mean no passenger fees to pay the airport’s debt. Fewer departures and arrivals mean fewer landing fees. Taft said the CARES Act money can be used for operations or capital. He prefers the former, saying it is too uncertain what the future holds to launch a capital project. He would love to repave the airport parking lot while it is mostly empty. But Taft does not know when traffic will return. If it does not, the airport may need the $700,000 the parking lot project would cost to pay its day-to-day bills. The CARES Act also supplied money to support airlines. In exchange, airlines had to keep semiregular flight schedules to their airports. All four airlines serving Pasco took CARES Act funding, which compels them to deliver at least nominal services.

Alaska, Delta and United Airlines must schedule at least five flights a week from Pasco. Allegiant Air must schedule three. Scheduling is one thing. Flying is another. Taft said flights appear to get canceled at random. Those that do go out have few passengers and may fly winding routes. Pasco records about seven flights a day. And the routes they are flying have gotten creative. Taft said it is not clear who is still flying. He is maintaining social distancing in his office on the airport’s second floor. The busy terminal is a ghost town. Even the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint is deserted between planes with officers sent home. Anecdotally, passengers dress for leisure. “You don’t see the suit and tie in here very often,” he said. The Richland and Prosser airports, both run by the Port of Benton, received $69,000 and $30,000, respectively. As it stands, the FAA awarded grants to 64 Washington airports, ranging from token amounts such as $1,000 for Cle Elum Municipal, to $192 million for Seattle-Tacoma International, a global hub. Those receiving $1 million or more were: Bellingham International ($5 million), Wenatchee’s Pangborn Memorial ($18.1 million), Orcas Island ($1 million), Pullman/Moscow Regional ($18.1 million), Boeing Field/ King County International ($18 million), Spokane International ($29.6 million), Walla Walla Regional ($18 million) and Yakima Air Terminal/ McAllister Field ($1.3 million).



Colorado firm plans 600-megawatt Horse Heaven Wind Farm By Senior Times staff

A 600-megawatt wind farm south of Kennewick will employ 300 during construction and help cement the region’s status as Washington’s center for wind energy. Scout Clean Energy of Boulder, Colorado, will apply for a conditional use permit from Benton County for its Horse Heaven Wind Farm project later this year. Pat Landess, spokesman for Scout, said the project is on schedule although it has had to change its public outreach strategy because of the coronavirus pandemic and Washington’s continuing stay-home orders. It is communicating updates via a Facebook page. The wind farm will be developed in phases on 60,000 acres in the Jump Off Joe area south of the Tri-Cities. Demand will drive the construction schedule. Work begins in 2021, with commercial operations beginning in 2022. “The ridges here have abundant wind resources that make the location ideal for a wind energy development,” Landess said. There are more than 3,000 megawatts of wind energy in Washington, or 1,725 turbines that represent 7.3 percent of all in-state power produc-

Courtesy Scout Clean Energy Scout Clean Energy will apply for a permit to develop a 600-megawatt wind farm on 60,000 acres in the Jump Off Joe area south of the TriCities this year. Construction will employ up to 300 people.

tion, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The Mid-Columbia has long been a critical player in renewable wind energy in Washington. The Stateline Wind Project, which debuted in 2001, straddles the Washington-Oregon border at Wallula Junction. It was one of the first and largest wind installations in the region. The company will install up to 212 General Electric wind turbines, each costing about $4 million, or $850 million in 2020 dollars at full build-out. Construction will require 300 workers. The project will employ 12 to 14 at full operations.

Mid-Columbia businesses are encouraged to contact Scout Energy about doing business with the project. The contractor will buy local materials and services, Landess said. The wind farm will produce power to support up to 140,000 homes. More importantly, it will help Washington pursue a 2019 goal of carbon-neutral power by 2040. The company is marketing the project’s power output but has not identified customers. Horse Heaven Wind Farm is subject to review under the Washington State Environmental Policy Act and consultation with the Washington Depart-

ment of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The review includes impacts on the environment, humans and wildlife, as well as the cultural and aesthetic effects. Most of the project will occupy cultivated farmland. Each turbine takes about half an acre out of production. The turbines are linked by an underground electric “collection” system as well as communications lines, two substations with operations and maintenance shops. It expects to send power via the Bonneville Power Administration system through an interconnection agreement. The project will generate an estimated $27 million in taxes over the its expected 25-year lifespan. The company said that it has commitments to landowners to remove and salvage wind turbines and restore the site to pre-project status at the end of the project lifespan. Horse Heaven Wind Farm combines two prior projects that date to 2016. Scout Clean Energy bought the assets of Wpd, a wind energy producer. Tri-Citian Dave Kobus is the lead project manager.

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uBRIEFS Tri-City farmers markets open for season

Tri-City farmers markets have opened for the summer with social distancing and other safety protocols in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. • The Downtown Kennewick Farmers Market season is from 4-7 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 22 at Flag Plaza, 204 W. Kennewick Ave. • The Downtown Pasco Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October at Fourth Avenue and West Columbia Street. • The Richland Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October at The Parkway on Lee Boulevard.

Sign up for meals, or to be a phone buddy

Tri-City area seniors in need of a meal or conversation can now get both through Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels. To get a meal when all of the Meals on Wheels dining rooms are closed for their regular Monday-through-Friday hot meals, seniors can pick up frozen meals at the Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, Pasco Parkside, Benton City and Prosser sites from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays. Pickup in Connell is 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays. Frozen meals also may be picked up from the Meals on Wheels Café from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, regardless of which site clients typically dine in. The café is at 1834 Fowler St. in Richland. Seniors age 60 and older who are not current Meals on Wheels clients who may now need meal assistance should call 509-735-1911 to sign up for the free service. To help local seniors stay connectCONNECT, From page 1

gers to a nearby corner for pickup. It’s similar to Uber in that the Via app allows customers to see in real time their available trip options, how far away their driver is, and the estimated time of arrival. Customers without smartphones can call to request rides. Via provides the branded vans, hired the contracted drivers and developed the technology embedded in app to match rides and to transit points. The Via app can coordinate rides in any city or country where it operates. Tri-City Via vans will take passengers to or from designated transit connections within the same zone. Service to central Kennewick, Finley, Columbia Center, south and

ed, phone buddy volunteers are needed. They’ll be asked to call Meals on Wheels clients at least once a week for chit-chat, check-in and cheer-up. Call 509-735-1911 or email prichter@ seniorliferesources for more information. Volunteers must undergo a free Washington state background check.

Sunset at Southridge shifts to late summer

Kennewick’s popular Sunset at Southridge program will be a late summer undertaking because of the coronavirus pandemic. The series of food truck events begins Aug. 21 and runs Friday evenings from 4-7 p.m. through Oct. 2 at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex, 2901 Southridge Blvd. The weekly event includes food trucks, entertainment and a familyfriendly outdoor activity. It is sponsored by Toyota of TriCities and Retter & Company Sotheby’s International Realty.

New coalition advocates for better senior care

The Tri-City Senior Care Support Coalition is advocating for better care for the region’s seniors and elderly residents in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Established by the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the coalition includes industry and community leaders. It has urged U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse to classify caregivers as health care workers and to include hazard pay, stipends and/or tax relief in future legislation. Carol Moser, executive director, of Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health, Roy Wu, owner of Advent Care & Home Instead Senior Care, LoAnn Ayers, central Richland and east Pasco began May 11; service to West Richland and Badger Mountain began May 4; and service to west Pasco began April 20. Right now only one passenger is allowed in each van per trip, though the service is intended to and will eventually be a shared ride service, with Via’s advanced algorithms allowing multiple riders to share a vehicle. A second passenger will be allowed only as a companion traveling to and from the same destinations, and riders must sit in the back row of the vehicle to maintain proper social distancing from the driver. Transit officials say it was necessary to offer the BFT service earlier than planned after it suspended five regular bus routes in Pasco and

president and chief executive officer of United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties, Johannah Weeks, co-owner of Chinook Home Care, and Kirk. F. Williamson, program manager for Benton-Franklin Community Health Alliance, are lending their talents to the effort.

Incyte opens new lab, plans to offer Covid-19 testing

Incyte Diagnostics, which has a laboratory in Richland, has launched a new clinical testing lab in Spokane Valley to serve hospitals and clinics throughout the northwestern U.S., the Spokane Journal of Business reported. The clinical lab tests for everything from allergies and bloodwork to cancer and expects to have antibody testing available for Covid-19 in midMay. The lab expects to be able to run 600 antibody tests an hour, the Spokane Journal of Business reported. The $3.2 million remodel took about 10 months to complete, the Spokane Journal of Business reported. The new 13,000-square-foot lab will serve five states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Alaska.

cent of benefits still payable. Total income to the combined fund was $1.06 trillion in 2019, including $944.5 billion from net payroll tax contributions and $81 billion in interest. Social Security paid $1.04 trillion to 64 million beneficiaries in 2019. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leads the board. For more information, go to news/press/releases.

Richland library kicks off summer reading program

The Richland Public Library will conduct its summer reading program via phone and tablet via the Beanstack app. The program for students and adults continues through Aug. 31. Register and read online at

Registration underway for summer reading program

The Social Security Board of Trustees recently released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Funds. The report does not reflect potential impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The report indicates the combined trust funds are projected to become depleted in 2035, with 79 percent of benefits payable after that time. The projected depletion date is unchanged from the 2019 report. The DI Trust Fund is estimated to become depleted in 2065, with 92 per-

Mid-Columbia Libraries’ 12 branches and Bookmobile remain closed in compliance with Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order. All due dates and holds have been extended to June 15. Readers may register for the libraries’ summer reading program online at summer-reading-challenge. Those 13 and older and adults can play Book Bingo. They’ll read books in certain categories to earn a bingo by completing a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line. Beginning July 6, finishers may turn in their completed logs to their local library and collect their prize. Program finishers receive a book bag, while supplies last. All finishers will be entered to win grand prizes. Prizes are sponsored by Friends of Mid-Columbia Libraries.

replaced them with two new interim routes on April 13. It was a necessary step as the agency works to maintain a balance between maximizing connectivity to essential services, adjusting for significantly decreased demand in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, and managing changes in staffing availability. “We have realized bringing it online now represents a value-added community service during this time of emergency and hardship for so many. It will allow us to help better meet the mobility needs of our riders and community at this critical time, give us flexibility to adapt to changes in staffing availability at BFT, and fill service gaps as they arise,” said BFT General Manager Gloria Boyce.

Once normal fare collection resumes, fares will be collected for BFT Connect rides through the Via app, cash or BFT tickets and passes. The new service replaces the former Tri-City Feeder program, which halted in fall 2018 after its longtime contracted service provider unexpectedly announced it was closing its doors, and eventually will replace the General Demand program, which was put in place after the feeder program ceased. The General Demand program will be phased out as BFT Connect grows but will continue in Prosser and Benton City. For details about the service, including how it works during and after the state of emergency, go to:

Social Security report shows depletion dates

Lower Snake River Dams

Economic crash makes dams more critical

We are learning many painful lessons during the coronavirus shutdown. A key lesson that if a policy isn’t economically sustainable, it isn’t environmentally sustainable. This is a particularly important lesson to remember when considering how to promote recovery of salmon and steelhead populations on the Snake River. Earlier this year, the federal agencies finished the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Columbia and Snake rivers, focusing on what to do with the four dams on the Lower Snake River. Their research concluded that when balancing the environmental and economic factors, leaving the dams in place while improving fish passage is the best strategy. Just a couple months after the EIS was released, that conclusion is proving to be even more sound. Estimates of the cost to destroy the dams vary, but even those who advocate removal admit it will cost $1 billion. Estimates from the Army Corps of Engineers are higher. Add to that the annual cost of replacing the electrical generation that would be lost if the dams are destroyed. That could amount to another $1 billion a year for ratepayers. Even the Northwest Energy Coalition, which favors destroying the dams, admits electricity costs will go up significantly. Those are just the direct costs. The cost to the regional economy would also be significant. The dams were originally constructed to facilitate shipment of goods down the Snake. The loss of that transportation would impact farmers who would have to shift to more expensive modes of transportation. The draft EIS estimates destroying the dams could increase transportation costs by up to 33 percent on average.

The economic costs, however, are only part of the equation. The EIS found there would be Todd Myers increased Washington environmenPolicy Center tal damage. GUEST COLUMN Removing the dams would increase CO2 emissions by about 10 percent across the Northwest because the hydro power would have to be replaced in part by natural gas generation. The dams produce electricity in the morning and at dinner time when it is needed to meet the highest levels of demand. Solar, by comparison, generates electricity in the middle of the day, but not when demand is highest in the evening. Wind generates most of its electricity at night and in the very early morning, when demand is low. Simply replacing the electricity from the dams with wind or solar is not possible. Those who support destroying the dams argue it is necessary to help salmon recovery and provide additional forage for the Southern Resident Killer Orca Whales in Puget Sound. Dam removal, however, is an extremely poor way to achieve that goal. First, as the economic downturn is reminding us, money is precious and should be put where it can make the most difference. Spending billions on just one project would put all our eggs into one salmon-recovery basket. The total state budget for salmon recovery in Puget Sound and along the Washington coast is about $50 million a year. The cost to remove the dams would be as much as 20 years of uCRITICAL, Page 16

Let’s work to find a new path forward

Several federal agencies just released a massive courtordered federal study (called an Environmental Brett VandenHuevel Impact Columbia Statement, or Riverkeeper EIS) about the GUEST COLUMN Snake and Columbia river dams. If you had other things on your mind last month, that’s more than understandable. Also, you didn’t miss much: the EIS is just another federal study aimed at propping up the status quo—while Northwest salmon and fisheries slide toward oblivion, and cheap solar and wind make Bonneville Power Administration’s hydropower less and less competitive. We believe that Northwestelected leaders should develop a solution that saves salmon by removing the Lower Snake River dams and reinvests in agriculture, transportation and river communities. Effective leaders will make this happen—not a bloated government study short on solutions. The EIS is so inadequate, in fact, that it appears to have cemented the belief among Northwest leaders that the federal agencies are not capable of providing solutions. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has taken a strong stand. She calls for Lower Snake River dam removal and “propos(es) a path forward that can lead the region to an achievable and workable solution for future operation of the Columbia System, one that protects salmon and steelhead while assuring sustained economic growth for the region.” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s response is less robust,

15 Ice Harbor Dam/Army Corps of Engineers


but strikes a similar chord. Keeping Lower Snake River dam removal on the table, Julian Matthews Gov. Inslee Nimiipuu Protecting explained the Environment that he is GUEST COLUMN “heartened by recent calls for, and steps toward, a regional collaboration about how to do more for salmon in a manner consistent with the energy, transportation, and irrigation … ” We agree the Northwest needs a new path forward. Despite past rhetoric on both sides, this issue is more complex than removing four dams on the Lower Snake to save salmon and orcas. The system of dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers touches many aspects of life in the Northwest, from agriculture to electricity to fisheries. The hydrosystem was imagined nearly 100 years ago and largely constructed during the middle of the last century. We are not trying to destroy that system; we are trying to improve it. For everyone. In truth, the system is not working for many people. Snake River salmon and steelhead runs are collapsing; tribal, commercial and sport fisheries are being decimated; and electrical utilities are wondering if they can keep paying for BPA’s costly hydropower. As these problems intensify, they threaten the reliability of the remaining benefits of the Lower Snake River dams, namely transportation and agriculture. Instead of continuing to fight each other, people and interests uNEW PATH, Page 16



State Department of Fish and Wildlife says Puget Sound Chinook are the most important source of forage for the Southern Resident orca. The Snake, by way of comparison, is barely in the top 10. Putting our limited resources to use where they are most needed and will do the most good should be obvious. Some people, however, want to wish these important tradeoffs away. The federal agencies are now going through public comments and will provide responses in the near future. Let’s hope they stick to the science and economics that guided their original good decision. Preserving the dams provides the resources to keep our economy strong and provides the funding to help salmon and steelhead recover across our region. Todd Myers is environmental director for the Washington Policy Center.

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impossible, but dam removal advocates are also pushing for muchneeded investments in rail and other transportation infrastructure. This is not about leaving people, especially farmers, behind. It’s time to envision the Northwest in 20, 50 or 100 years. We all want our children to be able to catch and eat salmon. We all want them to inherit modern transportation infrastructure and a truly clean, cheap, and reliable energy system. It’s time to come together around common causes. The federal agencies that run the Lower Snake River dams are clearly not interested in changing the status quo, even though it’s not working for many people in the Northwest. Despite—and perhaps even because of —the EIS’ shortcomings, conversations are happening across the Northwest that might lead to real progress. It won’t be easy or simple. The ecosystem and the economy of the Northwest are deeply entwined with the Columbia and Snake rivers. The regional politics also are complex, and the issues don’t fit neatly into westside-vs-eastside or red-vs-blue narratives. But we must succeed. The future of salmon, sustainable fisheries, affordable power and agriculture in the Northwest all depend on our ability to come together and solve these challenges before it’s too late. Brett VandenHuevel is the executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, and Julian Matthews is a board member of Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment.

salmon recovery in the state. The additional cost to replace the electricity is on top of that. Arguing we can just find more money to do both is either oblivious or irresponsible. Second, although recovery is slow on the Snake River, the population of Chinook salmon is increasing. Despite a cyclical downturn in the last few years, the average number of Chinook passing Lower Granite Dam over the last 10 years was the highest of the last five decades. According to the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, Fall Chinook on the Snake are already above the recovery target. That is not the case in Puget Sound, where Chinook populations are declining. Of the 22 populations of Chinook in Puget Sound, none are meeting the recovery goal. None. What’s more, the Washington

throughout the Northwest should come together and decide on a new path forward. Otherwise, the fate of our region, its resources, and its cultures will be decided by default, litigation, or chance. We need to move beyond eastversus-west and liberal-versus-conservative narratives. Those labels are too simplistic and don’t track reality. For instance, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has shown the most appetite among Northwest leaders for exploring Lower Snake River dam removal. And many “east-side” tribes and fishing guides want dam removal, while some “west-side” electrical utilities would rather keep the dams in place. On this issue, east-west divisions are an illusion. In the Northwest, we are all part of the same watershed, transportation system, electrical grid and ecosystem. We are all in this together. We need to find solutions that work pretty well for everyone. Let’s talk about agriculture. Farmers in Eastern Washington need water for crops and reliable ways to get those crops to market. Removing the four Lower Snake dams would not reduce the amount of irrigation water. And farmers who improve their irrigation intakes to accommodate changing water levels should not have to foot the bill. Also, some wheat growers still ship their product on barges down the Lower Snake. Dam removal would make this