Wenatchee Valley Business World




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Eastside moves forward to revitalize downtown

EAST WENATCHEE — Plans to revitalize the city’s old downtown may finally be taking shape after nearly 20 years of community head-scratching. The downtown area was at center stage Tuesday when more than 40 residents, business owners and city and county leaders discussed in detail what’s wrong, what’s right and what’s definitely needed to breathe new life into the 80-year-old commercial district.

Getting it off the ground

New SeaPort Airlines customer-service employee Debbie Walker, left, gets training from SeaPort Portland station manager Teresa Ricks after the airline’s first plane landed at Pangborn Memorial Airport on Thursday.

The Worm: Health District spins tires trying to buy local

The Chelan-Douglas Health District wanted more than anything to buy its new all-wheel-drive vehicle from a local dealer, but the idea never gained traction. Government policies, legalities, intricacies and strategies — you know, the usual — routed the district down a well-worn road to buy the vehicle through a state contract with a Longview dealership.

Lacy less convinced that sales tax is the answer

WENATCHEE — East Wenatchee Mayor Steve Lacy appears to be taking a step back from his Town Toyota Center bail-out proposal, saying he wants to first find out if it would cost his city more to hand over sales tax revenues for 15 years or to be sued by spurned investors. While he’s still promoting his proposal for a regional sales tax to government leaders around the region, he’s now saying that he’s not “married” to the plan and may ultimately advise his own city council not to pursue it.

Sales tax is key to arena staying open

WENATCHEE — The thermostat has been turned down and the lights are being shut off early these days at the Town Toyota Center. Now ticket sales for what is normally the arena’s best-selling show are sketchy. The question on everyone’s minds these days is how long can the arena stay open under its current legal and financial constraints.

Instructor driven to teach skills that get novice drivers home alive

WENATCHEE — Sure, Steve Richardson wants driving to be fun and exciting for behind-the-wheel novices. But those aren’t his top priorities. The owner-instructor of Richardson’s Safe Driving School says teaching kids to be smart, alert and ready for challenging traffic situations is his goal. “More than anything else, I want them to get home alive, to come home every single night.”

Oh tank heaven for 7-Eleven

Customers stopping by East Wenatchee’s 7-Eleven this week to fuel up on jalapeño-cream cheese taquitos and a Blue Lightning Blast Slurpee got more refueling than they’d bargained for. On Wednesday, 7-Eleven’s entire parking lot was transformed into an excavation site when three huge 12,000-gallon fuel tanks were dug up, loaded up, dusted off and two of them trucked away. (The third will likely go right back in the ground.)

People & Places

New jobs, new faces: Dusti Elfving of Wenatchee has become an independent consultant with Tastefully Simple Inc., a national direct sales company for easy-to-prepare foods. Elfving offers food samples at home taste-testing parties, and ideas for everyday meals and recipes. For more information, email Elfving at tastefullydusti@nwi.net.

Port gets $1 million for Pangborn-area improvements

EAST WENATCHEE — The Port of Douglas County has received a $1 million package of state loan and grant funding to make some of its industrial park property more attractive for potential tenants. Port Director Lisa Parks said the package includes an $850,000 loan, payable over 20 years at 2.5-percent interest, and a $150,000 grant.

Laws make other options unlikely, officials say

Medical officials are pursuing a non-profit organization to oversee management of Central Washington Hospital and the Wenatchee Valley Medical Center because other options are currently not possible or are not financially appealing. “We can’t legally mix our assets at this time,” said Dr. Pete Rutherford, chairman and CEO of the Wenatchee Medical Center.

A Reasonable solution

EAST WENATCHEE — Steven Bechard thought his world had dropped out from under him when he was laid off from his longtime job in 2008. “I had never been unemployed in my life,” said Bechard, a tall, fit 62-year-old who lives in East Wenatchee. “I thought I was going to lose everything.”

Coastal hands out benefits

EAST WENATCHEE — Coastal Farm & Ranch, the new name of Big R, will share nearly $36,000 in insurance rebates with workers here and eight other stores in Washington and Oregon, the company announced Aug. 2. Coastal received the rebates in the last year through a safety incentive plan with SAIF, the company’s workers’ compensation carrier. The rebates reward employees for continued safety on the job.

Rock solid: East Wenatchee concrete company takes pride in hard work, family legacy

Russ Haven began working at H2 Pre-Cast, an Easta Wenatchee-based concrete manufacturing company, when he was a sophomore in high school. Haven’s father, Larry, started H2 Pre-Cast in 1984, and toiled relentlessly to grow the business and gain a strong footing in North Central Washington. Russ, meanwhile, never really considered doing anything else. During those early years of expansion and opportunity, he often thought to himself that he’d eventually be taking over for his father, but he never let that fact get in the way of the goals he wanted ...

Rebuilding the housing market: More boom, less gloom

WENATCHEE — Entering the Saddle Rock East subdivision that’s taking shape off South Methow Street is almost like going through a time warp back to the pre-recession gravy days of home construction. Sub contractors carry tools and supplies between new homes and their trucks, and earth-moving equipment is shaping the landscape. The project is full of sights and sounds that were commonplace all over the valley until the home-lending bubble burst and most residential construction ground to a halt.

Gateway Cinema opens in Olds

Movie fans got their first peek of Sun Basin Theatres’ new Gateway Cinema 14 north of Wenatchee when it opened May 20 for midnight showings of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the fourth installment in the swashbuckling franchise and likely one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters. In the week prior, construction crews scrambled up to 20 hours a day to finish the massive remodel of Olds Station’s former Kmart building into a high-tech show palace and the region’s largest multiplex.

Chinook Music Service: Sweet music

Steve Sturzl can speak from personal experience about the benefits that can come from getting involved with music at a young age. As a child growing up in the upper Midwest, Sturzl joined his school’s band. As he learned more and more about music and became a better musician, he began to notice that he had begun to develop in other areas of his life as well.

Second Wind Bicycle & Nordic: Sure and steady

Larry Michael will smile and tell a story whenever he’s asked why he loves his job as the owner of Second Wind Bicycle & Nordic in East Wenatchee. “I was here alone on a Saturday, and a lady came in and bought a bike and a helmet,” he said. “She was probably 50 years old and hadn’t ridden a bike since she was a kid. After we closed, I went out for a ride, and as I was coming back into town, I passed her going down the loop.