Dec 1, 201412:00 AMBlog

December 2014


New personal wellness site for state staff

A new personal wellness website will go live tomorrow for state employees who are part of the Public Employees Benefits Program (PEBB) statewide. It's intended to be a fun, social way for them to improve their health and well=being.

Posted at 04:44 PM | Permalink | Comments


Business Examiner notes

Early-bird pricing ends tomorrow for Who's Who, the first Business Examiner event of 2015. When Daily Biz Briefs returns on Friday, the ticket price will have gone up by $5 -- which is still a bargain.

Posted at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments


Feds count net gain of jobs in Pierce, state

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics found modest job gains in Pierce County from November 2013 to last month, but barely any increase in the Olympia market. Washington state added almost 85,000 jobs in the same year period.

Posted at 04:12 PM | Permalink | Comments


MBA Pierce honors members

Master Builders Association of Pierce County delivered recognition awards to several members during an annual banquet earlier this month.

Posted at 03:56 PM | Permalink | Comments


Budget for 2015 vehicle fee in Thurston?

One step closer to a possible $20 per vehicle tax for unincorporated Thurston County to maintain roads, bridges, etc.

Posted at 03:43 PM | Permalink | Comments


Puyallup builders lose an icon

Thomas Russell Absher, an important leader of the Puyallup construction firm bearing his family name, passed away at the age of 83 on Sunday.

Posted at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments


Scammers playing playoffs

Did your company Internet connection slow down for a while this morning? Perhaps it was shoppers pursuing limited Seahawks playoff tickets.

Posted at 03:48 PM | Permalink | Comments


Home sales slipped in November, prices firm

A very tight supply of homes for sale caused November sales to fall nationwide. New listings fell 27.7 percent from October, making for the first year-over-year drop in inventory this entire year.

Posted at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments


New UTC commissioner for new year

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission gained a new member today, as Jeffrey Goltz retired after six years and Ann Rendahl was named by the governor to replace him.

Posted at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Comments


New leader for state homeless panel

There is a new chair for the State Advisory Council on Homelessness. Lael Duncan, executive director of Okanogan Community Action Council, a member of the body since 2006, will lead its functions in 2015.

Posted at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments


L&I reminder: $9.47/hr minimum in 2015

Washington's minimum wage climbs on Thursday to remain the highest in the nation at $9.47 per hour. It applies to all workers in all industries, including agriculture.

Posted at 05:26 PM | Permalink | Comments


Thurston could consider $20 vehicle fee

Thurston County Commissioners tomorrow will consider creating a Transportation Benefit District that could bring a $20 per vehicle tax early next year to raise money for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Posted at 03:36 PM | Permalink | Comments


Moctezuma’s now at Southcenter

Moctezuma's Mexican restaurant from South Tacoma and Gig Harbor has opened a new location inside Southcenter Mall in Tukwila.

Posted at 03:27 PM | Permalink | Comments


Olympia will have new mayor in 2016

In a written statement issued today, Olympia Mayor Steve Buxbaum said he will not be seeking reelection next fall. When his current term ends in December 2015, he will have served the city for six years.

Posted at 03:16 PM | Permalink | Comments


Accountants add resources for new year

A Sumner accounting and tax service office has joined with Jones & Sas CPAs of Redmond to create a two office, 10 person audit, tax and bookkeeping firm. The entire staff Brown & Senn Accounting team will remain intact.

Posted at 03:06 PM | Permalink | Comments


Real estate brokerage ‘going it alone’

Family real estate business will end its John L. Scott affiliation to concentrate on commercial and investment properties.

Posted at 04:41 PM | Permalink | Comments


State’s economic ranking fell in 2014

Washington state fell another spot in the ranking among 50 states for economic performance and environment. This year-end report is the second consecutive one in which the comparison to other states disappointed.

Posted at 04:40 PM | Permalink | Comments


Health exchange holds vendor payments

State health exchange holds back payment from software vendor due to error that cancelled 6,000 consumer accounts. Extension to apply for new or renewed coverage announced.

Posted at 04:21 PM | Permalink | Comments


State Library claims IT success, seeks funding

The State Library is touting great start-up success with its Microsoft IT Academy partnership, which provides free online learning to Washington residents through their local library.

Posted at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments


‘Back to business’ in Olympia politics

NFIB Washington is using this week between the holidays to open a public discussion of the governor's proposal for higher taxes to fight climate change.

Posted at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Comments


National philanthropy recognition for Key

KeyBank has been recognized for the company's nationwide commitment to philanthropy, thanks in part to a number of civic endeavors in the South Puget Sound area.

Posted at 02:24 PM | Permalink | Comments


Pierce, Thurston health providers disciplined

Four health care providers in Pierce County and one in Thurston County have been levied disciplinary actions by the Washington State Department of Health.

Posted at 01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments


Spaceworks livens up old Woolworth building

The store windows of the old Woolworth building and the display cases at the Tacoma Post Office Building are getting a makeover.

Posted at 01:44 PM | Permalink | Comments


Site glitches lead to second chance to enroll in exchange

People who encountered technical errors on the Healthplanfinder website ( could qualify for a 60-day special enrollment opportunity, through Feb. 23, 2015.

Posted at 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments


Heritage steps up for affordable housing

Heritage Bank is providing construction financing for an affordable housing project in Snohomish County, with participation from Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle. Monroe Family Village will provide 47 living units for low income households.

Posted at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments


South Sound to gain 8 Haggen stores

Eight South Sound Albertson's and Safeway grocery stores will become part of Haggen Foods early in 2015, after completion of a spin-off from the merger between those two national brands.

Posted at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments


November unemployment up; jobs, too

November's unemployment rate rose statewide and in each of the South Sound's four counties. More jobs were created and filled, but the ranks of available workers also increased in the month.

Posted at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments


Trade customers call for end to Ports blockage

Numerous trade associations joined retailers of all sizes today in calling on the Obama administration to add a federal mediator to stalled contract negotiations between West Coast longshore union member and port terminal operators.

Posted at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments


Olympia agency to add Tacoma/PC service

Community Youth Services, known for more than 40 years in service to vulnerable youth and young adults in Olympia and Thurston County, has been selected to create a similar program in Tacoma and Pierce County.

Posted at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Comments


Pierce pot ban upheld by judge

For the fifth time, a superior court judge today agreed with an opinion issued by the Attorney General’s Office earlier this year, concluding that nothing in Initiative 502 overrides local governments’ authority to regulate or ban marijuana businesses.

Posted at 05:29 PM | Permalink | Comments


Baumgartner plans 2015 hearing on port slowdown

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, has announced his intention to open a probe of the slowdown that has hampered Pacific coast ports, including the Port of Tacoma.

Posted at 05:17 PM | Permalink | Comments


RAM Restaurants becomes employee-owned company

The RAM family of restaurants and breweries announced today that it has become an employee-owned company.

Posted at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments


NLRB: PLU adjunct faculty can unionize

The National Labor Relations Board has decided that adjunct faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University do have the right to seek union representation to aid in their labor contract negotiations. The 3-2 vote seems to end two years of legal challenges to a union vote.

Posted at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments


Interfor will buy Simpson Lumber mills

Simpson Lumber mills in Tacoma and Longview, along with the headquarters building in Tacoma, will be purchased by Interfor Corp., a Vancouver, B.C.-based lumber manufacturer, in the first quarter 2015.

Posted at 05:04 PM | Permalink | Comments


Grocer expanding to four states

Haggan Inc., a grocery chain based in Bellingham that formerly operated Top Foods outlets in the South Sound, is expanding to California, Arizona and Nevada as it buys stores spun off after Safeway merges with Albertson's.

Posted at 04:51 PM | Permalink | Comments


Car imports locked to Tacoma through 2019

The two current auto importers operating at Port of Tacoma have new agreements committing their activity through the end of 2019. It assures that there will be a flow of brand new Kia models along with other Asian brands.

Posted at 03:02 PM | Permalink | Comments


New president named at TCC

Tacoma Community College has named its new president, tapping Sheila K. Ruhland, Ph.D., the current leader of Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, Wisc. She will begin in March 2015.

Posted at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments


Governor’s ‘time to invest’ budget has new taxes

The governor released his 2015-2017 budget plan today and Republicans immediately noted what they say would be $4.3 billion in new tax increases over the next four years.

Posted at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments


Investor outlook for 2015 and beyond

Russell Investments is telling its clients and the public to expect continued single-digit profits growth, further gradual declines in unemployment and a gradual tightening of interest rates in the coming year.

Posted at 04:46 PM | Permalink | Comments


New leader at Orting vets home

A new superintendent has been appointed at Washington Soldiers Home in Orting by its operator, the state Department of Veterans Affairs. Will Slusarski has been as assistant to that role, while completing an administrator-in-training progream.

Posted at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments


Dockside slow-down update

Two sides in waterfront labor dispute still talking, according to statements from each. Meanwhile, delays continue at Port of Tacoma and all other Pacific Coast terminals.

Posted at 01:19 PM | Permalink | Comments


Container volume growth streak ends at Port of Tacoma

As expected, container volumes at the Port of Tacoma dropped sharply in the month of November, reportedly due to a labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

Posted at 12:34 PM | Permalink | Comments


Construction to start on Frederickson sawmill complex

Sierra Pacific Industries, a forest products company based in Anderson, Calif., announced that they will immediately begin construction of a sawmill in Frederickson.

Posted at 10:52 AM | Permalink | Comments


Palis tapped as Tacoma General's new COO

MultiCare Health System's Tacoma General Hospital has named Adar Palis as its new Chief Operating Officer.

Posted at 04:48 PM | Permalink | Comments


Inslee includes SR 167 in $12 billion transportation plan

In a new $12 billion, 12-year transportation revenue proposal announced yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee wants to make big things happen.

Posted at 04:19 PM | Permalink | Comments


Unemployment sees uptick third month in a row

While 6,800 new jobs poured in from October to November, Washington state saw its unemployment rise for the third month in a row, up to 6.2 percent.

Posted at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments


Franciscan, MultiCare partner to propose psychiatric hospital

The region's two largest health care systems, CHI Franciscan Health and MultiCare Health System, have filed a Certificate of Need application with the Washington State Department of Health to jointly build and operate a $41 million, 120-bed psychiatric hospital to be located in Tacoma.

Posted at 02:17 PM | Permalink | Comments


Tacoma Council moves forward on paid sick leave

Last night, the Tacoma City Council chose to push forward on mandatory paid sick leave with a vote of 8-0. The final reading will take place Jan. 27.

Posted at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Comments


Oskar's German Deli returning to Lacey

Oskar's German and European Deli, the Lacey eatery which has been dormant since its closing in August last year, is being reborn.

Posted at 05:18 PM | Permalink | Comments


Sick leave before Tacoma council

Proposed sick leave ordinance gets first reading at tonight's city council meeting in Tacoma. Businesses urged to attend by chamber of commerce.

Posted at 05:06 PM | Permalink | Comments


Commission deciding on restaurants in historic district

On Thursday, Jan. 18, the Gig Harbor Planning Commission will be making a recommendation on whether to allow restaurants in the historic Millville zoning district.

Posted at 04:57 PM | Permalink | Comments


Taylor Shellfish looks to add new geoduck farm

Public comment is due today for a proposal by Taylor Shellfish to install a geoduck farm in unincorporated Thurston County.

Posted at 04:50 PM | Permalink | Comments


Tacoma office products dealer expands into Kitsap

Chuckals Office Products, an independent, Tacoma-based office products dealer, has announced an expansion of its operations through a merger with Speed’s Stationers, headquartered in Silverdale.

Posted at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments


Lights displays switch to LED for savings

As the holiday season goes into full swing and residents all over the South Sound line up at their favorite Christmas light displays, organizers are looking to replace old incandescent bulbs with LEDs.

Posted at 05:23 PM | Permalink | Comments


Pierce County's FirstToSee receives accolades

Pierce County is receiving accolades for its FirstToSee project, a website and mobile app which allows the public and first responders to quickly share information in a disaster.

Posted at 05:20 PM | Permalink | Comments


DoH announces discipline on Pierce health providers

The Washington State Department of Health has announced that it has taken disciplinary actions against a pair of health care providers in Pierce County.

Posted at 05:15 PM | Permalink | Comments


Walmart grants $20K to Tacoma food pantry

After being named a winner in a national Walmart campaign, a Tacoma food pantry will receive $20,000 grant for facility makeovers.

Posted at 04:54 PM | Permalink | Comments


Solid growth for Gig Harbor's Rush Companies

The Rush Companies, a contracting and development services business based in Gig Harbor, is riding a wave of growth in the construction sector this year.

Posted at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments


Mason Co. shellfish contamination prompts recall

State health officials issued an emergency closure for harvesting and ordered a recall for all shellfish originating from a portion of Mason County’s Hammersley Inlet after several people who ate raw oysters became ill.

Posted at 05:26 PM | Permalink | Comments


Red Wind Casino reopened after Thursday evening fire

Guests and workers at Nisqually Red Wind Casino were evacuated when a storm-related fire broke out around 9 p.m. Thursday evening, though the casino structure sustained no damage and reopened this morning.

Posted at 05:21 PM | Permalink | Comments


National award for Tacoma environmental firm

Tacoma firm Robinson Noble, Inc., which provides engineering and environmental consulting throughout Washington state, was recently named a winner of the Premier Award for Client Satisfaction.

Posted at 05:16 PM | Permalink | Comments


Conerly: World economy to grow 'a hair faster'

Bill Conerly had good news to deliver at the Regional Economic Forecast & Innovation Expo: The world economy is supposed grow a "hair faster" in 2015 and 2016.

Posted at 03:52 PM | Permalink | Comments


Biz confidence in Thurston highest since '08

In Thurston County, business confidence level has reached its highest levels since 2008.

Posted at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments


Mason EDC head: Things looking up

Lynn Longan, director of the Mason County Economic Development Council, says there is only one direction that Mason County is going: Up.

Posted at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments


Kent company recalls 300 pounds of salad

Kent's Real Foods LLC is recalling roughly 308 pounds of salad due to undeclared allergens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced.

Posted at 02:42 PM | Permalink | Comments


Olympia excavator fined by state

An Olympia-area excavating company has been fined by state regulators for violating Washington's "call before you dig" law.

Posted at 02:05 PM | Permalink | Comments


Second restaurant commits to Point Ruston

A sushi restaurant has committed to opening at the new Point Ruston development along Tacoma-Ruston's waterfront.

Posted at 05:14 PM | Permalink | Comments


Puyallup remains off-limits for pot sales

Puyallup City Council agreed last night to extend the ban on retail sales and processing of recreational marijuana to at least the end of May 2015. The moratorium could be shortened, if state legislators make some changes in tax sharing and how medical dispensaries are affected.

Posted at 05:05 PM | Permalink | Comments


Sick leave mandate coming to Tacoma?

Reaction is starting from small business in Tacoma that would be impacted by a proposed mandatory sick leave policy being considered by the city council. The issue faces a first reading at next Tuesday's meeting.

Posted at 04:57 PM | Permalink | Comments


Harborstone funds first two ‘micro loans’

First two micro-loans awarded by state's Microenterprise Loan Fund, thanks to financial resources of Harborstone Credit Union. Both recipients are small businesses in Seattle that wanted funding for expansion.

Posted at 04:59 PM | Permalink | Comments


New financial services office in Olympia

On Q Financial, Inc., has announced the opening of a new branch office in Olympia.

Posted at 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments


Local United Way groups join as a region

While maintaining their unique individual community focus, 39 United Way organizations in three Pacific Northwest states have formed a regional association to achieve a stronger impact through combination of forces.

Posted at 04:38 PM | Permalink | Comments


Lewis builders OK ‘very limited’ impact fees

A homebuilders organization has given its support to the first, very limited entry of impact fees in Lewis County. The local unit of Olympia Master Builders endorsed a new county ordinance that imposes the costs on development only in one planned community.

Posted at 04:34 PM | Permalink | Comments


REVIVE is newest Spaceworks opening

Spaceworks has announced the opening of its newest beneficiary business — a showroom in Tacoma's Dome District that will feature the work of five area companies.

Posted at 04:28 PM | Permalink | Comments


Labor agreement for TCC support staff

Union reaches agreement with Tacoma Community College for staff engaged in student support functions. Increased compensation over the next two years and other non-economic issues were resolved after more than two years in negotiation.

Posted at 03:46 PM | Permalink | Comments


Kent dentist’s license suspended

Unsanitary, disorganized office leads to suspension of license for Kent dentist by state authorities. Dr. Charles Pan may reapply to practice, if he passes an infection control inspection.

Posted at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments


Hollywood star comes to JBLM, Lakewood

Efforts to connect military members with advanced manufacturing jobs following their time in the service will be the topic of a meeting tomorrow in Lakewood that includes Hollywood actor Gary Sinise, vocal spokesman for the concept.

Posted at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments


‘Going Green’ with 18 wheels (or more)

Tacoma-based Interstate Distributor trucking line is adding 10 new power units fueled by liquified natural gas. They will dispatch from the South Sound on freight haul trips throughout the region and, eventually, perhaps the nation. For now, finding convenient fueling stations is a factor.

Posted at 04:04 PM | Permalink | Comments


Gig Harbor planning new farmers market

South Sound waterfront community Gig Harbor is exploring how to improve the farmers market before next summer's opening. City Administrator Ron Williams reports he is talking with an organization to potentially take over the market operations.

Posted at 03:27 PM | Permalink | Comments


From BE: New racetrack potential, holiday shopping & private jobs in capital

Today's new Business Examiner edition includes an in-depth look at future development potential surrounding Kent's Pacific Raceways, an early look at holiday shopping and surprising new data showing private sector jobs out-number government ones in the state capital.

Posted at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments


Tacoma insurance licenses revoked

A Tacoma insurance agent and his office both lost their state licenses for failures in financial record-keeping, according the state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

Posted at 04:51 PM | Permalink | Comments


Before ports slow-down, trade had grown

America's balance of trade inches slightly more negative in October, according to a report out today U.S. Department of Commerce. The next report, however, will likely show impacts of the West Coast maritime slow-down now dragging toward its sixth week.

Posted at 04:44 PM | Permalink | Comments


New jobs up 321k in November

Widespread hiring in business and professional services, retail, health care and manufacturing drove American payrolls up by 321,000 in November, one of the largest one-month gains in months.

Posted at 04:23 PM | Permalink | Comments


AGs gets serious with Sirius

Washington Attorney General office of Consumer Protection has joined a national settlement with Sirius XM Radio Inc. to resolve complaints about its business practices. Customers can file to claim a small share of a $3.8 million settlement fund.

Posted at 04:07 PM | Permalink | Comments


Puyallup to reconsider pot sales Tuesday

Puyallup City Council will revisit its expiring ban on retail marijuana sales at its regular meeting next Tuesday evening. An existing ban on state-approved retail sales will expire at the end of this month, although the council appears to be heading toward its renewal for another five months.

Posted at 03:51 PM | Permalink | Comments


Tacoma port’s economic impact in $$

Economists calculate that more than 29,000 jobs were directly related to activity at Port of Tacoma in 2013, with a total economic impact of nearly $3 billion. That would be 3,000 more workers than identified in the previous study done in 2004.

Posted at 05:11 PM | Permalink | Comments


South Sound salmon projects funded

The state's Salmon Recovery Funding Board delivered good news today for conservancy groups and local water protection districts in terms of funds totaling $18 million to help bring salmon back from the brink of extinction.

Posted at 05:00 PM | Permalink | Comments


Slightly less retail hiring this year in state

Slightly fewer seasonal retail jobs will be filled in Washington this year, in the view of labor market economists with Employment Security Department. Still, there likely will be another 15,000 workers earning paychecks to help customers find just the right gifts.

Posted at 04:51 PM | Permalink | Comments


Homebuying interest within holiday season

Real estate brokers report theri business is not slowly down as the holiday season approaches. Buyer interest remains high and there are year-over-year gains in pending and closed home sales, and media prices.

Posted at 04:43 PM | Permalink | Comments


State could win on biz debt collections

A study released today by State Auditor Troy Kelley suggests that Washington could gain uncollected tax debts more effectively by creating a program linked to the federal debt-offset formula. Monies owed to a business by any state agency could first be taken to pay delinquent taxes.

Posted at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments


'Want a message with those fries?'

Low-income community and labor organizers will be protesting at a number of South Sound fast food locations and the state capital in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Posted at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments


WSDOT outlines declared progress

State Transportation Department staffers have issued the annual report of activities for fiscal year 2013-2014. It shows 149 projects completed at a savings of 5.2 percent under the original bid totals.

Posted at 03:50 PM | Permalink | Comments


No federal objection to ports pact

Federal Maritime Commission did not object to the next stage that might lead to the combination of marine terminal operations in Ports of Tacoma and Seattle. A review period ended Dec. 1, so the two entities have begun the formal review process.

Posted at 03:37 PM | Permalink | Comments


Leader named for MultiCare ACO

Multi-Care Health System has named a physician with extensive experience health care administration, including with Regence BlueShield and Premera BlueCross, to lead its new Accountable Care Organization.

Posted at 03:23 PM | Permalink | Comments


CHI Franciscan names new CEO

CHI Franciscan Health has named Ketul Patel as its new CEO. He will replace the retiring Joe Wilczek in late February.

Posted at 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments


Fines recommended for CenturyLink

Wash. Utilities and Transportation Commission staff have recommended almost $3 million in penalties against CenturyTel for widespread outages in the state's 911-emergency phone system earlier this year.

Posted at 05:21 PM | Permalink | Comments


Vets saluted by Brown Bear

On Giving Tuesday, "Brown Bear" owner Car Washes Inc. announces a Veteran's Day donation to Puget Sound Honor Flight, which takes senior military veterans to the nation's capital.

Posted at 05:12 PM | Permalink | Comments


Tacoma, Seattle ports to meet again

Tacoma and Seattle port commissioners will meet in Fife tomorrow to further discuss their work in progress to combine their marine terminal operations.

Posted at 05:02 PM | Permalink | Comments


Report shows rising non-residential construction

Builders in the non-residential sector got busier in October, according to data released by the Census Bureau today, and an industry economist says the outlook for 2015 remains upbeat.

Posted at 04:52 PM | Permalink | Comments


Christmas Forest has grown indoors

Providence St. Peter Foundation volunteers are putting the finishing touches on the 27th annual Christmas Forest, which will open Wednesday at Olympia's Red Lion Hotel.

Posted at 05:10 PM | Permalink | Comments

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