To Washington State University for adding upper-division civil engineering courses at the Tri-City branch campus in Richland.
The new offerings mean students in the program no longer will have to choose between leaving home or abandoning their career plans after their sophomore year.
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Electrical and mechanical engineering already are four-year programs at the College of Engineering and Architecture in Richland, where 144 undergraduates are enrolled.
Washington's high-tech companies like Microsoft and Boeing constantly complain about the chronic shortage of home-grown engineers to fill a growing demand.
Anything our colleges and companies that conduct business in our state can do to put our kids into Washington jobs is a welcome step.
To the project management team at the new Physical Sciences Facility at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for winning the Energy Secretary's Award of Excellence in Project Management.
It's great that seven-year project, led by a team of PNNL and Department of Energy officials, was completed ahead of schedule.
The smooth transition from the old building out at Hanford's 300 Area to the new $224 million complex on Horn Rapids Road is another great aspect of this project.
The creative funding model, which included $77 million in private money, was another aspect worthy of recognition.
Good work attracts attention, as the secretary's award proves. And anytime national attention is focused on PNNL it's a good thing for the economic future of the Tri-Cities.
The diverse array of research under way at the lab will help sustain the Tri-Cities long after the Hanford cleanup is complete.
To the Maryhill Museum of Art for proving that high culture isn't reserved for urban centers.
The imposing structure sits in the literal middle of nowhere, more than an hour from Portland and two hours from the Tri-Cities, but it houses a world-class collection of art. It's extensive library draws art scholars from around the globe.
And thanks to art patrons who believe in the implausible vision, Maryhill is about to unveil a $10 million expansion that makes this destination overlooking the Columbia River even more dramatic.
The new wing adds 25,500 square feet to the chateau's existing 20,000 square feet. A grand opening is planned for Mother's Day weekend.
The all-glass design offers views of Mount Hood and the river. The addition includes a new gallery and a caf that will serve food and wines worthy of the venue.
As a bonus for those willing to make the trip from the Tri-Cities -- it's a beautiful drive.
Give a hoot
To Blue Mountain Wildlife of Pendleton for efforts to save baby barn owls in the Columbia Basin that are displaced or orphaned by hay farmers.
Most of the owls placed in the agency's care come from haystacks that farmers need to move, usually because the hay is sold.
The rehabilitation center spends about $24,000 a year to feed 80,000 mice to 400 homeless barn owl chicks.
In addition to saving baby owls in need of rescue, Blue Mountain Wildlife is encouraging farmers to build nest boxes near their hay stacks, so chicks can be raised by their parents.
That's good news for everyone but the mice.
Sleight of hand
To state legislatures around the nation that misled the public about how lottery earnings would be spent.
Most pitched lottery legislation by promising windfalls worth millions to public education. But that's proved to be a bait-and-switch operation in many states.
In California, for example, all lottery donations to public schools from kindergarten through high school total $19.3 billion during the last 26 years, the Washington Post recently reported.
But instead of using the money as additional funding, California and other state governments are using the lottery money to pay for the education budget and using the savings to the general fund to pay for other things.
In other words, in many states, lottery money isn't the promised boon to public schools but merely a wash.
Washington state gets a pass, not because it's using lottery money to expand school funding but because it never promised that kind of deal. The legislation creating our lottery system clearly states the money goes to the general fund.
It's better than the deliberately misleading antics of other state governments, but not particularly satisfying either.