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March 27
‘Godspell’ fills theater with energy, excitement

​Yakima Herald Republic


When I walked into the Akin Center Theatre in Yakima on March 16, I was shocked at how small and intimate the venue is. With fewer than 150 seats, every member of the audience gets an up-close view of the show.

“God­­spell” is a Broadway musical composed by Stephen Schwartz that opened off Broadway in 1970; it tells Bible stories in a fun and modern context. The Warehouse Theatre Company in Yakima organized this current production of “Godspell,” and despite a cast of only 10 characters, the show’s energy and excitement filled the theatre.

“Godspell” follows the Gospel of Matthew, including many recognizable parables as well as the crucifixion story. Jesus, portrayed by Davis graduate and current Central Washington University student Kyle Hitchcock, is accompanied by disciples John and Judas, both portrayed by former Davis teacher James Klarich, who teaches chemistry at Yakima Valley College.

The remaining cast members used their own names in the show, as their characters are simply followers of Jesus.

Bella Dagdagan, a sophomore at A.C. Davis High School, said her favorite part of being in the cast of “Godspell” is the cast itself.

“They’re some of the coolest people I’ve ever met,” she remarked after the show. “They’re all so amazing and talented and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work with them.”

The audience was continually blown away by the incredible vocal performances on all parts. Every cast member had at least one solo, and the group numbers were astoundingly in tune; chords rang out and dynamic contrast was phenomenal. The acting was superb as well, with just the right nuances to add emotion and humor.

The musical covered a wide range of topics; most were lighthearted, but some of the more emotional scenes, especially around the crucifixion, were highly moving.

All characters had their own personality, which was brought to the stage in part through the costuming; all of the characters wore modern clothing. The set had a wonderful design, especially considering the small space. Bright colors, trampolines and hidden compartments in the flooring added to the excitement of the production.

Furthermore, the lighting perfectly highlighted each scene, whether it was in the form of spotlights, flashing neon lights, or even brightly colored flashlights held by the characters themselves.

Overall, “Godspell” was highly enjoyable to watch, and it was obvious that the cast was having as much fun as the audience.

The Warehouse Theatre Company puts on several productions each year, with the next one being “Steel Magnolias” in May.​

March 27
Traffic control flaggers say decent pay, outdoor work and flexible hours make job attractive

​Yakima Herald Republic


YAKIMA, Wash. -- Brandon Thompson stands on his feet for hours, watching as vehicles stream by his latest job site.

But the former restaurant worker says he likes being a traffic control flagger better than being cooped up in the kitchen.

“I feel like the world is your office. You’re not stuck behind a desk,” said Thompson, who works for Everett-based K & D Services. The company has a Yakima-based team and works statewide in Washington and Oregon and part of California.

The chance to work outdoors, decent pay and flexible hours are among the reasons workers may want to consider becoming flaggers. Traffic management companies operating in Central Washington say they are frequently looking for job candidates.

“There’s tons of work out there,” said Carol Walton, the owner of K & D Service’s Oregon division, which oversees the Yakima area.

Thompson, a 27-year-old Yakima resident, said he received his certification locally and landed his current job a month later. He’s worked all over Washington and returned last week from a job in Oregon. He enjoys the chance to travel.

“I just go wherever they send me,” he said.

Stephanie Simpkins, the owner of Northstar Enterprises in Liberty Lake, agreed that demand for flaggers can be high at times. Northstar works across Eastern Washington.

Last summer, the union-based company called for additional crew members from Laborers’ Local 348, which has an office in Yakima, in order to fill jobs. At the peak of the summer, she estimated, about 100 positions are available.

“We completely emptied that union hall of people. They were desperate for people last year,” she said. “I would anticipate it would be the same this year.”

The need for flaggers can be greater during the summer road construction season, though flagging is a year-round job. Utility companies, for example, may call for flaggers when they are responding to a winter power failure.

Simpkins said pay for prevailing-wage jobs starts at about $21, plus union benefits.

Walton, whose company is advertising a Yakima position at $12.50 to $14.50, said top pay can range up to $35 an hour, depending on experience and other factors. Positions can be part time or full time, offering some flexibility in scheduling for those who need it.

Pay improves as a flagger is willing to travel, or work weekends and nights.

Employers said flaggers need to be dedicated and conscientious. A flagger not showing up for work can stall an entire job.

“We can train anybody, but we need somebody that’s going to be showing up every day on time and has the understanding in the construction industry that you’re going to work long hours,” Simpkins said.

Becoming a flagger requires a daylong training session to receive state certification. The course is occasionally offered at Yakima Valley College, as well as other locations around the state.

Training covers general safety, such as staying aware of vehicles moving in or past the job site, and government guidelines for traffic cone placement, for example. Flaggers must keep in mind their potential escape zones in case a vehicle charges through the cone line or other barriers.

“Once you kind of get down in the weeds, it’s a fair amount of things you need to be aware of,” said Timothy King, who has been a flagging instructor for about 12 years, including the last three at YVC.

He also teaches techniques for dealing with motorists, who are sometimes frustrated that they have to wait in line.

“You’re kind of a PR agent for the work that is going on,” adding that his best suggestion is to “kill them with kindness.”

King said his classes tend to number 20 to 25 students, about half of those new trainees.

He said he encourages workers to consider adding a flagger certification to their arsenal of skills, along with such documentation as a first aid card and a commercial driver’s license.

At the Roza and Sunnyside irrigation districts, where King works as the health and safety manager, district employees also serve as flaggers, rather than having to hire contractors.

Besides flagging contractors, which employ the bulk of flaggers, cities or other governments sometimes hire flaggers.

Joe Rosenlund, streets and traffic operations manager for the city of Yakima, said the city typically hires one or two permanent part-time flaggers for several months during the summer.

Seeking training before the work season starts puts someone in the best position to apply, he said.

The job is not without its hazards.

The state Department of Labor and Industries said four traffic flaggers were killed in separate incidents from 2006 to 2015.

Three involved flaggers struck by vehicles. The fourth victim was a sheriff’s office volunteer who died from a head injury after he tripped and fell on a sidewalk.

None of the incidents were reported in Central Washington.

Company representatives said they emphasize safety, both in initial training and on the job.

Simpkins said employees hold daily safety meetings to ensure they are aware of hazards and needs for each site.

“When it comes to traffic, you are the first line of defense for that area,” she said.

Walton said flagging is a perfect job for the safety-conscious. She said flaggers must be able to protect themselves and everyone else around them.

“When we have people who are focused, it creates a safer environment not only for the people working on the job site but the people driving through the job site,” she said.

Thompson recalled only one close call during his time on the job.

“A lady flat-out said she couldn’t see the signs,” he said.

Her car stopped only a few feet away from the cone he was standing in front of.

To prevent such incidents, he wears a bright yellow vest and hard hat, along with high-visibility pants in the winter.

“You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings,” he said.​

Fast facts

■ To become a flagger, you must attend a daylong course by a certified instructor. Certification card is good for three years, then must be renewed.

■ Flaggers should be prepared to stand for up to eight hours or more on hard surfaces.

■ Flaggers need to learn the traffic control and safety plan for each job site, including such things as the number of cones required for a particular warning lane.

■ Pay starts near minimum wage and increases based on a variety of factors, including experience, job type and willingness to travel. Companies interviewed for this article mentioned rates as high as $35 an hour.

Training options

■ Yakima Valley College offers an occasional flagger certification course. Watch for updates at

■ Northwest Laborers-Employers Training Trust Fund:

■ Evergreen Safety Council, Kirkland:

■ American Traffic Safety Services Association:

March 25
Yaks split with Big Bend

​Yakima Herald Republic

Sami Cooper pitched a three-hit shutout for Yakima Valley in the first game of an NWAC East Region doubleheader with Big Bend at Dunbar Field on Friday.

The Yaks (3-3 region, 6-4 overall) won the first game 7-0 but lost the nightcap 2-0.

Shelby Starkovich went 1 for 3 with a triple, two runs scored and two RBI and Courtney Figueroa went 1 for 2 with two runs scored and a stolen base in the first game for Yakima Valley.

In the second game, Haley Weiler went 2 for 3 with a double as the Yaks were held to just six hits.

Yakima Valley hosts Spokane on Saturday for a doubleheader starting at noon.

Game 1

Big Bend 000 000 0 — 0 3 1

Yakima Valley 320 200 0 — 7 11 2

Baker and Ferguson; Cooper and Allen.

YVC highlights: Courtney Figueroa 1-2, 2 runs, sb, BB; Lexi Rodriguez 2 runs, sb; Shelby Starkovich 1-2, 3b, 2 runs, 2 RBI, 2 BB; Sami Cooper run, RBI, 7K; Haley Weiler 2-4, 2b; Hope McCracken 3-3, 2 2b; Allie Allen 1-3; Julianna Galvez 1-3.

Game 2

Big Bend 100 010 0 — 2 4 1

Yakima Valley 000 000 0 — 0 6 3

Baker and Ferguson; Neff and Kies.

YVC highlights: Courtney Figueroa 1-3; Lexi Rodriguez 1-3; Shelby Starkovich 1-3; Haley Weiler 2-3, 2b; Hope McCracken 1-1.​

March 25
YVC baseball sweeps, stretching win streak to eight

​Yakima Herald Republic


YAKIMA, Wash. -- The games were very different, with the exception of who won.

But win Yakima Valley did Friday, following up a 19-0 rout of Green River with an 8-5 victory in nonleague baseball action at Parker Faller Field, a doubleheader sweep that ran the Yaks’ winning streak to eight going into NWAC East Region play next week.

YVC (14-6) will open defense of its regional championship on Wednesday, with a home doubleheader against Blue Mountain.

As the score would indicate, the first game was all Yaks as Cole McKenzie went 5 for 5 with five RBI and Gerald Hein and Greg Kier combined to pitch a seven-inning one-hitter.

McKenzie, who doubled and tripled, also scored three runs as did Nate Harrell. Bryce Beck had three hits while Tyler Detloff and Jake Kirchoff had two apiece.

YVC totaled 16 hits and also took advantage of nine Green River errors to score 10 unearned runs.

Hein, who worked 52/3 innings, allowed one single while striking out eight and walking two.

The Gators (0-12) led the second game 5-4 until YVC scored four times in the bottom of the sixth.

Keone McKee had a two-run single and McKenzie stole home in Yakima Valley’s big inning.

Game 1

Green River 000 000 0 — 0 1 9

Yakima Valley 221 572 x — 19 16 3

Marcussen, Nahaku (4) and Berger; Hein, Kier (6) and Kirchoff.

YVC highlights: Cole McKenzie 5-5, 2b, 2 3b, 3 runs, 5 RBI; Nathan Harrell 1-3, 2b, 3 runs, RBI; Bryce Beck 3-5, 2b, 3b, 2 runs, 3 RBI; Tyler Detloff 2-5, 2 runs; Jake Kirchoff 2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Keone McKee 1-3, 3 runs.

Game 2

Green River 003 020 0 — 5 11 3

Yakima Valley 102 104 x — 8 9 1

Fujiwara, Nahaku (6) and Berger; Driver, Garcilazo (5) and Schempp.

YVC highlights: McKenzie 1-3, 3b, 2 runs; McKee 2-4, 2 RBI; Keenan Milligan RBI; Tanner Tuttorow RBI; Jasean Simon 2-3, 2b, 2 runs, RBI.​

March 24
YVC baseball sweeps to run win streak to six games

​Yakima Herald Republic


YAKIMA, Wash. -- Cole Mckenzie scored three runs in the first game and Keone McKee had three hits in the second Thursday as Yakima Valley swept Green River 7-5 and 9-1 in a nonleague baseball doubleheader at Parker Faller Field.

The defending NWAC champion Yaks have won six straight, improving to 12-6.

Yakima Valley overcame five errors which led to three unearned runs in the opener. Hunter Boyd allowed one earned run over three innings, striking out five, to improve to 2-0.

Jack Hadley worked seven shutout innings in the second game, improving to 2-0 with an earned run average of 0.00.

Keone McKee had three hits and scored three runs in the nightcap for YVC.

YVC and Green River will play another doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. Friday, and the Yaks will open East Region play Wednesday at home against Blue Mountain.

Game 1

Green River 004 000 010 — 5 7 1

Yakima Valley 130 110 01x — 7 7 5

Bloom, Weber (5) and Dammeier, Lacina (8); Boyd, Henke (4), Foster (8) and Kirchoff.

YVC highlights: Cole Mckenzie 1-3, 3 runs, RBI; Bryce Beck 2-2; Keenan Milligan 1-3, 2b, 2 runs; Jake Kirchoff RBI; Keone McKee RBI.

Game 2

Green River 000 000 010 — 1 6 0

Yakima River 003 301 02x — 9 13 0

Nakamura, Owens (4) and Lacina, Dammeier (6); Hadley, Miller (8), Giannandra (9) and Schempp.

YVC highlights: Mckenzie 2-2, 2 RBI; Nathan Harrell 2-4, 2 RBI; Kyle Harvey RBI; Kyler Brudwick RBI; Jared Hall RBI; Tyler Detloff 2-4; McKee 3-4, 2b, 3 runs.​

March 22
Yakima Valley College students honored with state award


YAKIMA, Wash. - Two local college students are heading to Olympia where they're being honored for making the state all-academic team.

Jose Zuniga and Kylie Ergeson will be going to Olympia Thursday to represent Yakima Valley college.

They also have the potential to get more than four thousand dollars in scholarships.

Kylie says her impressive GPA is due to how much work she puts into the books.

“I go to class, go home, and then I study and volunteer. It's just time management basically. Being able to prioritize and put things first and study hard. I study a lot,” she said.

Each student had to have a higher than a 3.5 GPA and be active in their community to qualify.

The ceremony will be held at South Puget Sound Community College.​

March 20
YVC's Biology Dept., YELF, TU host film showing

​Yakama Nation Review


March 18
YVC baseball takes pair from Grays Harbor

​Yakima Herald Republic


Hunter Boyd pitched seven strong innings and Kyle Harvey drove in two runs Saturday as Yakima Valley downed Grays Harbor 5-2 in the first game of a nonleague baseball doubleheader at Parker Faller Field.

The Yaks also won the second game, 12-9, though technical difficulties made the statistics unavailable before press time.

YVC, 8-6, meets the Chokers, 1-9, for another doubleheader Sunday starting at noon.

Boyd scattered six hits and allowed no earned runs, striking out seven and walking one. Easton Henke, who came on in the eighth, got the win after Yakima rallied for three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Details on that half of the innings were unavailable, also.

Harvey was 2 for 4 with a double and Parker Depasquale was 2 for 4 with a double, two runs scored and another driven in.

The Yaks will host Green River for doubleheaders on Thursday and Friday, and on March 29 will open defense of their East Region and NWAC championships at home with a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Blue Mountain.


Grays Harbor 100 000 010 — 2 7 1

Yakima Valley 000 101 03x — 5 8 1

Snyder, Tebeau (8) and Chaffin, Skinner (8); Boyd, Henke (8) and Kirchoff.

YVC highlights: Parker Depasquale 2-4, 2b, 2 runs, RBI; Kyle Harvey 2-4, 2b, 2 RBI.


Linescore, highlights unavailable.​

March 17
Yakima Valley College plans to purchase 16th and Nob Hill retail property for expansion

​Yakima Herald Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Pending necessary approval from a state board, Yakima Valley College plans to purchase vacant property at the corner of South 16th Avenue and West Nob Hill Boulevard for its expansion. 

The 3.91 acre property once housed several retailers including Craft Warehouse, Hancock Fabrics and Koi Bistro. The entire property has been vacant for more than a year. 

The agenda for the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges includes a resolution to approve YVC's request to purchase the property at 1606, 1608 and 1704 W. Nob Hill Boulevard for $3.77 million. The board will meet in Olympia Thursday. 

According to the resolution, the college believes that the three retail buildings could be renovated into new instructional space.

Last month, YVC's board of trustees authorized President Linda Kaminski to pursue a property purchase, but Kaminski declined to reveal additional details at the time, stating that she wanted to wait until YVC secured approval from the State Board. ​

March 17
Adults who can improvise


YAKIMA, Wash - A new improv club is about to make their comedy debut on March 17th.

"Adults Who Can't Adult" is a school club at Yakima Valley College.

The group is composed of YVC students that have been together since October.

Club adviser Ray Pritchard feels like the group is ready, but he thinks that the audience will be the ones in control.

"It's up to them what kind of show that we get. So come out and maybe be ready to get up on stage with us," he said.

This free event is on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Kendall Hall at Yakima Valley College.​

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