— Western States Insurance and Payne Financial Group recently merged to form PayneWest Insurance. The local branch is at 390 Bradley Blvd., Richland.
— Derek Nelson was recently named design specialist at Focal Point Marketing and Multimedia in Kennewick. Nelson previously worked as a freelance designer. He is a graduate of Washington State University Tri-Cities.
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— Erick Higginbotham was promoted from graphic designer to video production artist at Focal Point Marketing and Multimedia in Kennewick. Higginbotham began working at Focal Point in 2011. He is a graduate of Washington State University Tri-Cities.
— Morgan Stanley Wealth Management recently hired Matt Gardner as a financial adviser in its Kennewick office. Gardner is a graduate of Eastern Washington University.
— Larry Willey, a former senior energy consultant for InventivEnergy, has been named vice president of energy/business services for Energy Northwest. Jack Baker held the position until his retirement. Before his work at InventivEnergy, a power generation and renewable energy consulting agency, Willey was vice president of operations for Clipper Windpower, leading a team of 750 employees serving 12 major customers nationwide. His team was responsible for developing 24 wind projects. This is his first job in the Northwest.
— Sid Morrison has been elected by the Energy Northwest Board to another four-year term on the public power agency’s executive board. Morrison, appointed to the executive board in 2001, serves as chairman. Morrison was a Washington state legislator from 1974-92, then was secretary of transportation until 2001.
— The Clean Spot Car Wash in Umatilla now offers a hand-held blow dryer for self-serve car washes. The dryer allows customers to dry their vehicles off more easily than if they were using a towel. The car wash is at 630 Switzler Ave., Umatilla.
— Mary Ann Breshears, a Kennewick photographer, was awarded the state’s wedding photographer of the year at the Professional Photographers of Washington’s annual education conference in April. The award is given for the highest score of wedding images submitted for judging at the conference. She owns Breshears Professional Photography with her husband Richard and has been in business in Kennewick since 2000. Her images now will be sent on to an international competition. The Breshears can be reached online at www.breshearsphoto.com.
— The 610 KONA radio news department was honored with two Region 1 Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic excellence. The Afternoon Report with Jeff & Jeff for coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention was honored for best newscast. Dennis Shannon was honored for coverage of the Pendleton bus crash on Dec. 30. The winning entries can be heard at: www.610kona.com/ murrows and are now finalists for the national contest later this year. The Edward R. Murrow Awards are handed out annually by the Radio and Television Digital News Association. Region 1 covers markets in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
— Benton PUD has received the Tree Line USA Award for the 14th consecutive year. The public utility district met standards for tree care, provided annual worker training, sponsored a tree-planting program, maintained a tree-based energy conservation program and participated in an Arbor Day celebration. The Tree Line USA Award was created by The National Arbor Day Foundation to recognize utilities for national leadership in tree care practices.
— Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels recently received a $1,000 grant from MetLife Volunteer Ventures. The grant is a mileage reimbursement to help volunteers who deliver meals.FDA approval
— SIGN Fracture Care recently received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the use of its pediatric intramedul-lary fin nail, a surgical steel rod designed to be inserted into the thigh bone. The rod helps treat fractures without the use of screws or external fixation. This is the fourth Food and Drug Administration clearance awarded to SIGN, a nonprofit manufacturer based in Richland.
— The Tri-City Construction Council recently released the names of its 2013 scholarship recipients: Patrick Bestebreur of Washington State University, Matthew McCracken and Melissa Bailey-Slater of Columbia Basin College in Pasco and Eric Westfall at the College of Western Idaho. They all received $2,000 in scholarships.Donations
— Walmart’s foundation announced that in the last fiscal year the company donated more than $1 billion in cash and other donations. In Washington, Walmart gave more than $15.7 million. Donations went to various nonprofits, including Second Harvest, which donated more than 8 million pounds of food to local food banks in Washington.