The weekend’s almost here, but before I head out and enjoy this great weather, I wanted to get caught up on a few things.

First of all, I know this blog’s been sparse lately. The main reason is that my colleagues and I have been busy working on Our Industrious Valley, a special section on employment in the Yakima Valley and surrounding areas. I’ve been spending the last few weeks working with statistics, writing sector overviews and profiling local companies. Part one of the section came out this past Sunday and part two will come out this Sunday.

For a preview of part two, check out these video overviews on employment in manufacturing (featuring yours truly), education and government.

I’d love to hear your feed back on the section. Leave a comment here or email me at


My Reporter’s Notebook column will return on Monday with an interview with Kay and Janet Hartshorn. The sisters-in-law are retiring and closing the Cookie Cutter Etc. after more than three decades in business at the Westpark Shopping Center on 40th and Summitview avenues.

As a preview for the upcoming column here’s a video of the two owners recalling a funny story about when they first opened.


Yesterday’s blog about new Mexican restaurants sparked a lot of response from readers:

“We need more of a variety. Please no more Mexican food,” said Karen Kelley in a comment on the blog.

“Ho Hum! Another Mexican restaurant opening this week! So what’s so newsworthy about that?” Ronald Crawford said.

The sentiment was similar on the Shop Talk Facebook page.

“Just was we need, yet another Mexican restaurant,” Pam Schmidt said on Facebook.

Many of the comments had suggestions on what restaurants local diners wanted to see open in Yakima including P.F. Chang’s Benihana, Jamba Juice, Cheesecake Factory, Rockfish Grill, Rainforest Cafe and Bahama Breeze.

But one comment provided a different perspective.

“All the people complaining about there being too many Mexican restaurants should go open their own restaurant if Mexican is not what they want,” said Ashili Pineda in her blog comment.


Finally, I wanted to go back and note the response to my column earlier this month about J.C. Penney. I wrote about how local shoppers appeared to have the same lackluster response as the rest of the nation to J.C. Penney’s new initiatives.

But several readers called and emailed me to let me know they are still fans of the company and like the new store in Union Gap.

“The (employees) bend over backwards to help you,” said Lila Rose, during a phone call to me earlier this month. “I think you have to go in a few times and see what they have.”

And in response to those who missed J.C. Penney’s old look, Rose said that she understood that J.C. Penney needed to change.

J.C. Penney has “different people they cater to” now, she said.