The Washington Policy Center has recently hired a new full-time director at the new Eastern Washington office. The new director Chris Cargill will be focusing on outreach to citizens, media, and community organizations in Eastern Washington. Cargill will be the voice of Eastern Washington, making sure the concerns of citizens are brought to attention on the west side. There will be a luncheon on Wednesday, February 17th from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Kennewick for those who would like to meet Chris Cargill. If you would like to attend please RSVP to Lindsay at 1-888-972-9272.

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Home Sale with Contract

According to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University, in the fourth quarter of last year, 2009, home sale shot up 21.3 percent. When compared to the fourth quarter home sales in 2008 this is a big improvement, up 46 percent. The median home sale price is still down though; in 2009 the median home sale price in the last quarter was $244,000 which is 8.5 percent lower than what it was in 2008. Over the whole year the median sale price was $250,700 which is down 11.8 percent compared to 2008.

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Economy is Doing Well

The Tri City Economy continues to do well despite the nationwide down economy. Last year there were 3,400 more non-farm jobs than there were in 2008. Some credit the success of the Tri Cities to the $2 billion in stimulus money that was granted to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation but according to Dean Schau, an economist for the Tri Cities region, the money didn’t help create more jobs but it helped to keep already existing jobs. Schau believes that the Tri Cities has been diversifying since the 1980s into industries that are pretty good. Industries like health care and the food industry.

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The Richland School District has recently decided to buy 15 acres of land south of Mountain View Estates on Belmont Boulevard in West Richland. The purchase was approved by the school board earlier this week. According to the school board president, Rich Jansons, the price of the land will be about $675,000. The land is currently being used as farmland and will continue to be used as such for the next several years until a new elementary school is built on it.

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Hanford Site 1945

The Tri Cities have used to be highly dependent on the Hanford economy, but according to a study by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory less that 8% of local jobs in the area were with Hanford prime contractors last year. Even though billions of dollars are poured into the cleanup at Hanford the area just isn’t as dependent on Hanford as the used to be. Employment jobs in Benton County and Franklin Counties have gone up 33% since 1994. An economist believes that in order for the Tri Cities economy to keep going up they need to diversify a little more but right now everything is looking good, there are scientific jobs, health care jobs, food processing jobs, along with other new jobs in the area. If the Tri Cities keeps adding more jobs and …

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Did you know that there are currently two bills being proposed in Olympia, Washington that, if passed, could allow the local real estate excise tax of .25% to be used by the local government? House Bill 3179 and Senate Bill 6424 were create to take the tax that was originally created to provide infrastructure that is necessary for the Growth Management Act and instead give it to the local governments are now looking to use this funding for operating expenses and/or public buildings that could be funded with bond authority or other mechanisms.

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One Room School House

Around the Tri Cities school maintenance and operations levies are passing at the polls. These levies help pay for extracurricular activities such as sports, art, music, along with other day-to–day expenses such as transportation and utilities. Levies have to have 50% of the votes a yes in order to pass. The Kennewick School District received 62% yes votes; Richland School District is at 65%; and the Pasco School District is passing with 56%.

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This month the Franklin County Historical Museum will be holding a presentation in honor of Black History Month by Katie Barton. The presentation will be on February 20 beginning at 10:00 am at the Pasco Museum. Katie Barton, who is 91, has lived in Franklin County for nearly 62 years, she was the first black to be elected to the Pasco City Council. Barton is very active in the community, she is involved with various community service activities as well as being a member of the Tri-Cities Senior Companion program. The museum will be featuring a new collection of photos and artifacts that go along with Black History month. Admission is free to get into the museum, their hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm.

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Kennewick Washington Downtown District

As part of the Washington State Main Street program, the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership is joining with various communities statewide to help save the program. As a result of budget cuts the Main Street Program could be cut. Since 1991 the program has helped 11,810 people to get jobs in 3,721 businesses. A majority of the money going into the program is from private contributions, for every $1 the program has to put out there is about $96 coming in from investors. Last year the program was cut back 75% of what it originally was. Even though the budget is in a pinch, last year the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership had one of its best years with plenty of private contributions from local businesses and the City of Kennewick. Many…

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Washington State University Tri Cities

Washington State Tri Cities will be opening the Chancellor’s Art Exhibit on Wednesday at 5:00pm. The exhibit will showcase several artists from in and around the Columbia Valley. Fourty-four pieces will be on display until the end of the April in the East Building administration corridor. The exhibit will be open to the public on weekdays from 7:00 am until 10:00 pm. There is no charge for the opening or to view the art pieces.

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