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Business Roundup | Wenatchee Pediatric Dentistry makes its move to Olds Station

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Marlie Thompson, 5, looks for a toy after getting an exam at Wenatchee Pediatric Dentistry in Wenatchee as Dr. Bryan Fletcher talks with Marlie’s mom, Hayli. The office moved this summer into the former site of the Royal Fork Restaurant in Olds Station.

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Wenatchee Pediatric Dentistry makes its move to Olds Station

WENATCHEE — The buffet stations and soft-serve ice cream machine are long gone from the former Royal Fork Restaurant in Olds Station.

Wenatchee Pediatric Dentistry owners Drs. Geoffrey Ping and Asia Dela Cruz can point out where they were located, though, using their patient waiting room in the restaurant’s former vestibule as a reference.

Their recall and the bones of the 8,000-square-foot building are all that’s left of the Royal Fork. As of July, the structure completed a years-long transformation into the new home of Wenatchee Pediatric Dentistry, 146 Easy Way.

Ping and Cruz started the practice in 2009 in 3,000 square feet of leased space at 246 N. Mission St.

The location was a compromise.

We looked at the old Burger King, where Wheatland Bank is now,” Ping said. “We had that spot tied up for eight months, but we needed more renters before the banks would give us a loan.”

As a startup, they had a difficult time getting financing at the time, just before the recession hit hard.

Their plan — and the requirement of the bank at the time — was to grow into that 4,000-square-foot building, leasing the extra space to others until they needed it.

The financing difficulty changed the plan, which in hindsight, turned out for the best.

They opened with just three employees, offering specialized dental care for children. By 2013, closing in on their current count of 19 employees, they had filled their 3,000-square-foot office and were looking at expansion options beyond the space they would have purchased.

Both Ping and Cruz, as well as Dr. Bryan Fletcher, who joined the practice five years ago, are pediatric dental specialists, trained in pediatric medicine, psychology, growth and development, dental procedures, conscious oral sedation and treatment under general anesthesia.

Their search for a larger space started about the time the Royal Fork closed in 2013.

They didn’t find another location that had the space and parking they needed. The previous location had 19 parking spaces, which meant employees had to park off-site.

They purchased the 1.22-acre property for $1.05 million in July 2016.

By then, they said, financing was no longer an issue. The challenge then was to figure out a design.

They moved the entry from the center of the building’s south side to the southwest corner.

In addition to simplifying the flow for patients and staff, it was closer to the 78 parking spaces.

The construction process flowed better after that. They stayed within the original footprint, but added exterior features, including a tower at the entrance, which also allowed some extra space for the treehouse feature that keeps their young patients entertained while they wait for their appointments and space for parents to chill.

The office also includes three X-ray rooms, three infant exam rooms, an open bay for exams and cleanings and a hallway for general anesthesia and recovery. The staff room is large enough for team meetings and projects.

They moved the last week of June. Ping said their total investment in the project is about $3 million.

East Wenatchee Council approves Gateway

EAST WENATCHEE — The Gateway Park Project is moving forward.

The last City Council vote June 12 ended in a tie. On July 24, all council members voted to proceed except for Chuck Johnson, who had previously expressed concerns over the cost.

Bids opened in April for the project, but the lower of two offers was $626,311 — nearly 62 percent more than the engineer’s estimate of $387,525. The City Council rejected both bids at its April 24 meeting.

At the council’s May 24 workshop, Dan Ireland with engineering firm SCJ Alliance presented members with potential design changes. Even with the adjustments, the estimated construction cost is $516,821.

Community Development Director Lori Barnett said that the state Department of Transportation paid the city $28,763 when it removed Viewpoint Park at the end of Grant Road to make way for the Highway 28 Bypass. The city could put that money toward Gateway Park, she said.

The council also approved two other motions related to Gateway Park at the July meeting: one for additional design revisions and the other to rebid the project in the winter. Construction is expected to begin in the spring.

The park will be located at 88 Ninth St. N.E. on property the city purchased in 2015. It will serve as a community plaza and entrance to downtown.

Funding allocated for Cashmere Mill site redevelopment

CASHMERE — The Chelan County Commission on July 23 agreed to allocate $500,000 to the Port of Chelan County’s redevelopment project at the old Cashmere Mill site.

It’s a program where the state leaves some sales tax with each county in rural areas for economic development projects, and so the commissioners are making a contribution of that,” Port Executive Director Pat Jones said. “It’s called .09 distressed county money.”

The port district is putting up the rest of the money for the $6.6 million project.

Earlier in July, the Port Commission awarded a contract of just under $6 million to Halme Construction to erect two 16,750-square-foot industrial buildings at the old mill site.

Port Deputy Director Jim Kuntz said one building should be completed by the end of February and the other by the end of March.

As we secure tenants, we’ll put dividing walls in the buildings so each tenant will have its own space,” he said.

The port acquired the land, located off of Sunset Highway on the west side of the city, in 2008. Twenty-one of the 32.5 acres were developable.

Last September, Louws Truss Co. purchased 3.53 acres for a new manufacturing facility.

The Cashmere Mill site has access to electricity, water, sewer, and phone and internet service. It’s a half-mile from Highway 2/97, which connects to Spokane and Seattle.

Companies interested in becoming a tenant can call the port at 663-5159.

Improvements continue at Lincoln Park

WENATCHEE — Work on a new Lincoln Park picnic shelter should be finished in the next few months, park officials say.

The 1,500-square-foot shelter needs a concrete floor and connection to an existing sidewalk before it’s ready to open.

That’s sort of the last piece at this point,” said David Erickson, the city of Wenatchee’s director of parks, recreation and cultural services.

The city has a call out for bids to do the work. The shelter is expected to be complete by October, Erickson said. Lighting and electrical outlets will likely be installed later.

Originally, the shelter was scheduled for a Memorial Day 2017 opening, but the parks department had trouble finding a crew to install the structure, Erickson said.

Erickson said he hopes the shelter is just the start of a slew of improvements to the park. The city has applied for a pair of grants totaling about $1 million to replace the current wooden play structure, add a splash pad, a BMX pump track, more parking, a new stage, new restrooms, another shelter and more trees.

Construction would begin in 2020.

Major upgrades planned for Hale Park

WENATCHEE — There’s not much at Hale Park right now, but that’s going to change.

Plans include a picnic shelter, skate park, play area for children, walkways, landscaping and restrooms. Construction should begin in 2020, said Dave Erickson, the city’s parks, recreation and cultural services director.

In that first phase we did, we were able to get all the utilities put in … in preparation for this phase,” he said. “This will wrap up the park. It will complete the park development.”

A $500,000 grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and a $414,500 grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund are helping.

Erickson said the city applied for the grants in 2016 and was notified in January that the application was approved. The city received the agreement in late June, and the City Council accepted it July 12.

They allow you to use other grants as a match, as well as staff time, donations, volunteer commitments,” Erickson said. “What we’re going to be doing for Hale is using one grant to match against the other, along with some staff time and then, for the restroom part, city sewer funds.”

He said the total project will be about $1.2 million, including engineering.

Grant awarded for Rock Island redevelopment study

ROCK ISLAND — The state Community Economic Revitalization Board on July 26 awarded a $50,000 grant to the Port of Douglas County for studying riverfront redevelopment.

The port and city of Rock Island have been looking at options for the site of a former silicon plant that closed in 2003, including adding parks, soccer fields or a trail. Another possibility is converting the plant to a facility similar to Wenatchee’s Pybus Public Market, with technology businesses and other offices.

Targeted local investments in public facilities are essential to building a foundation for successful and sustainable economic growth,” Randy Hayden, chairman of the Community Economic Revitalization Board, said in a news release the following day. “CERB’s mission is to help local governments and tribes finance their vision for the future.”

Part of the redevelopment process is testing soil samples around the plant to determine how extensive cleanup will be. The site is about 200 acres, though railroad tracks take up some of that space.

Woodin Avenue Bridge Project delayed

CHELAN — It’ll be a while before the Woodin Avenue Bridge Project is completed.

Although it was expected to start in July and wrap up by the end of October, City Engineer Jake Youngren said the start date has been delayed to Sept. 4. Work will pause around Thanksgiving and resume in March.

Youngren said the project should be completed in May.

There were some long lead times on materials that were part of critical path work that consequently pushed the start date of the project,” he said in an email. “The project is now currently planned to be a split 2018/2019.”

The City Council awarded a contract for about $3.2 million to Selland Construction in a special meeting June 13. The contract is for restoring the bridge and converting it to a single, one-way lane, as well as developing the Woodin Avenue Landing Park.

Built in 1927, the bridge has 4-foot-wide sidewalks. One will be doubled to 8 feet, and the other will be increased to 5 feet. There will also be a 5-foot-wide, two-way bike lane.

The bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic at times during the restoration, but will remain open to pedestrians and bicyclists. Motorists will be able to access downtown via the Dan Gordon Bridge.

The city has created a website — woodinavenuebridgeproject.org — where people can follow the progress and sign up for email updates.

Confluence Health patient names and information breached

WENATCHEE — A data breach at Confluence Health has affected 30,000 patients, but no financial information on patients was exposed.

At this time, we have no evidence of actual access or attempted misuse of patient information from the email account, and can say with absolute confidence that no financial information was included in the breached email account,” Confluence Health Spokesperson Andrew Canning said in an early August email.

On May 29, the Confluence Health IT team discovered that an employee’s email account had been accessed by an individual outside the organization, according to Canning. It was revealed that the individual had accessed the account on March 30 and May 28, which may have resulted in the disclosure of patient names and their treatment information.

The issue was made public about two months after the incident due to the lengthy investigation, Canning said. He added that the investigation wrapped up in July because of the large amount of emails in the employee’s account that had to be searched for information.

All of the affected patients have been notified, Canning said. Epiq Global, which specializes in data breaches, is a third-party contact center that is answering questions from the public and patients, he added.

Microsoft wants to add 72 generators at data center

QUINCY — Microsoft wants to add 72 emergency backup generators at its Quincy data center.

Additional generators require an updated air quality permit to help protect people and the environment, the state Department of Ecology said. The updated permit also includes 136 cooling towers.

Powered by diesel engines, backup generators keep servers functioning during a power outage. The engine exhaust releases pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and volatile organic compounds, which can cause health problems for people exposed frequently and at high enough levels.

However, Ecology said the data center will meet health criteria if operated according to the permit.

A public hearing on the proposal was held Aug. 27 in Quincy. Ecology accepted comments through Aug. 31.

Labor market takes a step up in July

OLYMPIA — Washington’s economy added 12,400 jobs in July and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for July was 4.6 percent, according to the Employment Security Department.

The July unemployment rate decreased slightly from the June 2018 unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, matching a historical low.

The state continues to feel the positive impact its economy is having on employment,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Benchmark revisions to the data showed that job growth has accelerated with the beginning of the calendar year.”

The Employment Security Department on Aug. 15 released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its July Monthly Employment Report. The department also announced that June’s previously reported unemployment rate of 4.7 was confirmed. Job gains in June were revised significantly upward from 4,100 to 7,100 jobs.

The state’s labor force in July was 3,763,300 — an increase of 3,100 people from the previous month.

From July 2017 through July 2018, the state’s labor force grew by 30,300. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Private sector employment increased by 11,900 while the public sector added 500 jobs in July.

The report shows the greatest private job growth occurred in professional and business services up 4,200, retail trade up 3,100, manufacturing up 1,700, wholesale trade up 1,600 and information up 1,500. Other sectors adding jobs were education and health services and government both up 500, and construction up 300.

Financial activities experienced the biggest reduction in July losing 500 jobs while leisure and hospitality and other services both lost 200 jobs and transportation, warehousing and utilities lost 100 jobs.

The number of jobs in the mining and logging sector remained constant in July.

Washington added an estimated 102,500 new jobs from July 2017 through July 2018, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.7 percent, up an estimated 103,600 jobs, while the public sector decreased by 0.2 percent with a net loss of 1,100 jobs.

Douglas County offers help for affordable housing projects

WATERVILLE — The Douglas County Regional Council will distribute $174,436 this year for low-income housing projects in the county.

Applications from agencies and organizations with qualifying projects are due by 4 p.m. Sept. 5.

The money, which comes from the $10 surcharge on each document recorded through the county auditor’s office, must be used for:

  • Acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of housing projects affordable to those with incomes at or below the 50-percent of the area mean income.
  • Support of building operation or maintenance costs of housing projects built with housing trust funds.
  • Rental assistance vouchers for housing project administered by a local public housing authority.
  • Emergency shelters and licensed overnight youth shelters.

The Regional Council, which includes representatives from each city in the county (Waterville, Bridgeport, Coulee Dam, East Wenatchee, Mansfield and Rock Island) and the three county commissioners, will meet at 1 p.m. Sept. 10 to hear presentations on the proposals and ask questions of the applicants.

For application information, call Tiana Rowland at 745-8537.

PUD wins ‘Top 100’ fleet award

WENATCHEE — Chelan County PUD’s Fleet Services group has been recognized as one of the top 100 fleets in North America for the second year in a row.

The National Association of Fleet Administrators, an industry trade group, announced the 2018 top fleet performers at its annual conference in Anaheim, California, according to the PUD.

Factors that contributed to the recognition include:

  • Overall availability of vehicles in the fleet — the PUD has a 99 percent availability on critical equipment
  • Overall stewardship and maintenance of the fleet;
  • Reduced emissions due to use of biodiesel fuels;
  • Personal accountability by staff for efficiency and cost-savings by doing more work in-house rather than outsourcing.

Icicle Brewing Co. begins expansion

LEAVENWORTH — Icicle Brewing Co. is expanding its business by building a new beer production facility on County Shop Road near the high school.

Oliver and Pamela Brulotte opened the brewery at 935 Front St. in 2011. Joel Martinez, the general manager, said they sought a local expansion site to stay in the community.

This location out on County Shop Road is one of the very few light industrial spaces in the Leavenworth area,” Oliver Brulotte said. “For us, it was a logical spot to put something that we view as light industrial being a brewing facility. … I’m just really proud of our people. It took a lot of work to get to this point, and we’re excited and thankful about the future of Icicle Brewing.”

The company expects to finish the building next spring.

The Brulottes and workers from the brewery gathered at the site of their future production facility on July 31 for a groundbreaking ceremony. Community members and friends joined them in celebrating the expansion.

Once the production facility is built, most of the brewing equipment at the location on Front Street will be relocated to the new site, Martinez said.

We are going to put in another smaller brew system downtown so we can continue to brew beer downtown, but probably more on small batch and stuff that we can do right out of the taproom,” he added, saying it is important that the company continue to brew beer downtown.

Confluence Health gains a new laboratory

WENATCHEE — Confluence Health has merged two of its laboratories into one location for more efficient lab-test processing and to improve patient care.

The lab from Wenatchee Valley Hospital, 820 N. Chelan Ave., has been moved to the Central Washington Hospital lab location, 1201 S. Miller St., according to Glenn Adams, the senior vice president for ancillary services.

Having a single lab location will allow more interaction between the clinical lab and pathologists, helping them in figuring out how to provide the best care for patients.

Both of those two areas have been retrofitted for lab use over the years,” Adams said about the separate locations. “This is the first lab that we’ve had that was designed for their needs, so we’re very excited.”

The new lab would enable pathologists to perform molecular and microbiology tests locally and receive results faster than before, Lab Administrative Director Jonathan Wilson said. Consolidating the micro departments and the blood bank departments will allow Confluence Health to be more of a community resource, he added.

A lot of times smaller clinics and hospitals will have to send tests down to Seattle or some other regional lab,” Wilson said. “Now we can provide that testing here within the community and get results faster so patients can either get their diagnosis or they can start treatment faster.”

An open house celebration for the new lab was held Aug. 6.

The plan to consolidate the two labs has been in the works for three years, Adams said. The project cost $7.1 million, and construction lasted for about eight months.

July home sales down despite hike in inventory, price

WENATCHEE — Fewer Wenatchee-area homes sold in July than for the month a year ago, but it’s more likely the result of the prolonged inventory crunch than a cooling market, experts say.

Homebuyers here closed deals on 86 homes in July, down from 120 sold in July 2017 and down from 111 sold in June 2018.

The stats come from Pacific Appraisal Associates’ July Real Estate Snapshot report released Aug. 9. The Wenatchee market includes Wenatchee, Malaga, East Wenatchee, Orondo and Rock Island.

The report shows the median sales price of the homes that sold continued to climb, up from $323,900 in June to $325,000 in July. That’s up from $287,250 in July 2017.

Most of Wenatchee’s inventory is in the upper price ranges, with more listings in the $601,000 and up range than in the under $250,000 range.

Of the combined 351 active and pending sale listings for July, the $301,000 to $350,000 range had the highest number, at 68. The $351,000 to $400,000 range was next with 60 listings. The $251,000 to $300,000 had 39 listings and pendings.

One piece of good news in the report is the hike in the number of building permits issued this year so far, which, includes 144 apartment units. Last year at this time, 28 permits for apartments had been issued.