Senske Services acquires Arkansas company
Senske Services, a Kennewick-headquartered residential lawn care, pest control and home services company, has acquired Ace of Blades in Arkansas.
Ace of Blades was established in 2005 and is owned by Josh Landreth.
Ace of Blades will now operate under the Emerald Lawns division of Senske Services with Luke Hawthorne, chief operating officer of Emerald Lawns, overseeing both operations.
The acquisition is Senske’s sixth in 2023 and the eighth overall since the company secured investments from private equity firm GTCR as it focuses on a nationwide expansion strategy.
Former Richland mayor dies at age 95
John Fox, a former Richland mayor, councilman, planning commissioner, parks commissioner and school board member, died Sept. 26 at the age of 95.
Fox served citizens for decades in his official capacities in addition to his work on countless other community projects.
“John was a reasonable and calming force in our community and he will be missed,” said Joe Schiessl, deputy city manager, in a statement.
He retired as mayor in late 2013.
The city lowered flags to half-staff at City Hall in his memory.
His funeral was Oct. 10.
Costco boasts 6% net sales increase over last year
Costco Wholesale Corp. reported net sales of $22.75 billion for the retail month of September, which included five weeks and ended Oct. 1.
The net sales were an increase of 6% over $21.46 billion last year.
Costco currently operates 861 warehouses, including one in Kennewick, 591 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 107 in Canada, 40 in Mexico, 33 in Japan, 29 in the United Kingdom, 18 in Korea, 15 in Australia, 14 in Taiwan, five in China, four in Spain, two in France, and one each in Iceland, New Zealand and Sweden.
Costco also operates e-commerce sites in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia.
Former Pasco shelter managers charged with animal cruelty
The state attorney general’s office has filed multiple criminal charges of animal cruelty against the former managers of the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter in Pasco.
The charges include a mix of felonies and gross misdemeanors and allege that Rebecca Howard, 46, of Kennewick, and office manager Justin Hernandez, 36, of Pasco, committed animal cruelty while they managed the shelter in 2021.
The attorney general’s office also filed charges against Neo’s Nation Animal Foundation, the nonprofit that received the contract to run the shelter.
Howard was the director of the nonprofit and Hernandez served on the board and worked directly for Howard, the attorney general’s office said.
Fair’s stock auction breaks sales record
The Benton Franklin Fair Market Stock Auction in August broke a record with its sale total of $1.37 million.
More than 400 animals were sold to 244 businesses on Aug. 26, and the money will go to the youth exhibitors who participated in the auction after months of work with the livestock.
The buyers were able to choose to have the animals processed locally for themselves or give them to larger processors, where they can become a part of the food supply chain. Some purchasers also donated the meat to the Tri-Cities Union Gospel Mission.
The auction is the largest single-event fundraiser in the Tri-Cities and the largest youth livestock auction in the state.
Volunteers on the Market Stock Committee meet year-round to make the auction the best experience for all involved. It takes over 500 volunteers to run the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo, which has an annual economic impact of $18.5 million in Benton County.
Next year’s fair is Aug. 20-24.
Businesses invited to learn how to work with Corps
Area businesses will have the chance to meet with the Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, at a Meet the Buyer Workshop on Oct. 18.
The Corps’ Walla Wall District purchases millions of dollars’ worth of products and services from area businesses each year. Workshop attendees will learn more about how to sell to the USACE and become better prepared to enter the federal government marketplace.
James R. Glynn, deputy small business programs, Corps Walla Walla District, is the guest presenter.
The event is presented by Washington APEX Accelerator (formerly PTAC) and the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The workshop is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Bechtel Board Room at 7130 W. Grandridge Blvd. in Kennewick. The workshop is free, but RSVP is required as the space is limited.
Lamb Weston updates its 2024 outlook
Lamb Weston Holdings announced its results for the first quarter of fiscal 2024 and raised its full year earnings targets.
“We delivered solid sales and earnings growth in the quarter, driven by the carryover benefit of pricing actions initiated last year as well as improved customer and product mix,” said Tom Werner, president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Organic sales volumes were in line with expectations, and shipment trends improved as the quarter progressed.”
The revised outlook projects net sales in 2024 of $7 billion, up from $6.8 billion and net income of $870 million, up from $800 million.
“We raised our earnings target for the year to reflect our performance in the quarter, as well as the current solid demand and pricing environment. We continue to expect the potato crop in our growing regions in North America will be in line with historical averages, and we believe the overall crop in Europe has improved compared to earlier predictions as a result of better growing conditions,” Werner said in a release.
WSU faculty, admin professionals receive 2.5% raise
Washington State University faculty and administrative professionals received a 2.5% salary increase beginning Oct. 1, with the increase to be first reflected on Oct. 25 paychecks.
Permanent as well as fixed-term faculty and administrative professionals were eligible for the increase.
The salary increase was funded in part by the state Legislature, which provided enough for a 2.2% increase, with the university contributing the rest.
A 4% salary increase for classified staff – entirely funded by the Washington State Legislature in the 2023-25 biennial operating budget – went into effect on July 1.
The university employs more than 8,200 people across its five physical campuses, WSU Global Campus, extension centers and other offices across the state.
State’s minimum wage to increase 3.4% in new year
A 3.4% increase in the minimum wage takes effect in Washington on Jan. 1, 2024, bringing the rate to $16.28 an hour.
Washington has the highest state-level minimum wage in the nation this year. The federal minimum wage remains set at $7.25 an hour.
The state minimum wage applies to workers age 16 and older.
Forecast is mixed for Northwest crops
Northwest apple and cherry crops are projected to be slightly unprofitable over the next 12 months due mostly to large crops and low demand, according to AgWest Farm Credit’s quarterly market report.
The outlook sees the winery and vineyard industry as slightly profitable. Drivers include lower wine grape demand from Ste. Michelle in Washington, challenging conditions for uncontracted growers in Washington, favorable 2023 crops, strong wine demand among Oregon and small Washington wineries, rising borrowing costs and shifting alcohol consumption patterns.
The forecast calls for slightly profitable returns for contracted and uncontracted potatoes. Northwest potato production is expected to recover to historic levels after two years of decline. This will ease the strain on processors who have faced potato shortages but likely will reduce open-market potato prices to break even or lower.
The outlook sees apple growers as slightly unprofitable to breakeven, and packers as slightly profitable. Drivers include a large, good quality 2023 crop in the Northwest, an average 2023 crop size for the U.S., softening prices, increased borrowing costs and the removal of import tariffs in India.
The outlook sees Northwest cherry growers as unprofitable. Drivers include large, overlapping West Coast crops and low demand.
Solar project at HAPO Center set to receive $1.5M
The state Department of Commerce is awarding $35.4 million in grants to local, state and tribal governments and nonprofits to plan and install solar and battery backup power systems at community buildings, and a Pasco facility is on the list.
A solar project at the HAPO Center is set to receive $1.5 million.
Donations help to upgrade WSU Tri-Cities engineering lab
Donations from a Washington State University Tri-Cities graduate, local philanthropists and Battelle have helped to modernize major equipment in the university’s engineering lab.
The college’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has been upgrading major components of its engineering lab thanks to a $200,000 donation from Doug and Julia Hamrick.
The new equipment includes 3D printing machines used for prototyping, a Charpy impact tester (measures the energy level required to fracture material), and digital hardness testers and laser cutters required in today’s manufacturing processes.
In addition, Battelle donated $50,000, which initiated momentum for the upgrades by funding an automated, computerized-numerical-control (CNC) lathe.
WSU philanthropists Gene and Linda Voiland also donated $55,650 to buy a CNC mini mill and other equipment.
The total, $305,650, goes toward the upgrades, which will be completed in the spring.
PNNL poets win first place in national contest
A poem penned by scientists from a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory-led center won first place in a national contest.
The poem – called “Can a Scientist Dream it Alone?” – is about “the quest to unravel and understand the chemical phenomena of the Hanford site’s nuclear waste,” the lab said in a statement.
The poem was written by scientists from the Interfacial Dynamics in Radioactive Environments and Materials (IDREAM) Energy Frontier Research Center and took top honors in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Poetry of Science Art Contest.
Retail crime accounts for over $112B in industry losses
Retail crime escalated to unprecedented levels in 2022 with $112.1 billion in industry losses reported, according to the 2023 National Retail Security Survey.
That’s up from the $93.9 billion recorded in 2021.
The survey encompasses insights from 177 retail brands, accounting for $1.6 trillion of 2022’s annual retail sales and representing more than 97,000 retailers across the United States.
Organized retail crime again was reported as a significant concern, with more than two-thirds (67%) of survey respondents witnessing an escalation in violence and aggression compared to the previous year.
The types of products targeted by shoplifters have diversified, ranging from high-price, high-fashion items to everyday products with quick resale capability, such as outerwear, batteries, energy drinks, designer footwear and kitchen accessories.
Food system infrastructure grant applications open
The state Department of Agriculture is offering more than $6 million in grants to support local food supply chains and market access for farms, ranches, food processors and food distributors.
The grants, which range from $10,000 to $500,000, are designed to expand and strengthen collaboration across linkages in the regional food supply chain.
The grant is available to farmers, ranchers, food businesses, or nonprofit/tribal/government organizations that aggregate, process, manufacture, transport, store or sell food grown, caught or raised in the state for Washington consumers.
Grants can be used for planning, equipment, and facilities that support on-farm post-harvest handling, aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, distribution, and sale of locally and regionally-produced food products.
Applications are due Nov. 15.