WENATCHEE — Zara Academy opened its doors to cosmetology students last month, embarking on a new chapter of a 40-plus-year beauty school tradition at 208 S. Wenatchee Ave.

Owner Gaby Amante earned her beauty school credentials there in 2000, enrolling after graduating from Eastmont High School.

Not only did Amante graduate from the school — landing her first job at what was then the new MasterCuts salon in the Wenatchee Valley Mall — she returned as an instructor and taught at the school, off and on, for 15 years.

She didn’t expect to one day own a beauty school.

Teaching wasn’t even on her radar initially, but she found she was good at it and enjoyed it.

The instructor job also proved flexible, allowing her to try other things.

She traveled as a product representative, providing classes at salons across the country, as well as to students in Wenatchee.

She left for a few months to complete an advanced course in makeup artistry at Hollywood’s Westmore Academy. She worked at a Los Angeles salon frequented by celebrities like Edward James Olmos, Cameron Diaz and Pamela Anderson. She also managed a makeup store while she was there.

She shared what she had learned with her Wenatchee students when she returned.

“It was fun,” she said.

She started her own shop, Bella Luna Salon, and worked as an assistant for Michael Kilgore at Michael David Designs.

“I did a little bit of everything,” she said, all while continuing to teach at the school.

She stepped away a few years ago, when she and her husband, Cande Amante, moved to Houston for his job.

“I was a stay-at-home mom with two kids (they have three now) and was a freelance makeup artist,” she said.

When they returned to Wenatchee she rented a station at Andi’s Salon (the owner is another alum of the beauty school) and started teaching makeup classes privately.

Then Crystal O’Kelley called to tell her the school was closed.

O’Kelley owned and operated what had been The Academy of Hair Design when Amante attended classes there. She was third owner of the school that made its debut in the late 1970s, and a former student herself. She later sold the business, but remained connected as the building’s landlord.

So, when a “permanently closed” sign was unexpectedly posted on the school’s door in May, O’Kelley called Amante.

Amante said her first thought was, “Wenatchee needs a beauty school. What is going to happen to all those students?”

O’Kelley followed with something like, “What do you think about you opening the school?”

O’Kelley and Peggy Strozyk, who had worked as the school’s director and manager for 20 years, offered to provide guidance.

Amante agreed to give it a go.

Coming up with a name was easy, she said, giving a nod to her 15-month-old daughter, Zara.

It got tougher from there.

Despite the extensive beauty school history, Zara Academy was starting from scratch with everything from the curriculum and lesson plans to getting licensed and painting the walls.

The startup costs took the funds they had been saving to buy a house, she said, plus lots of time.

She got the license Oct. 3, allowing her to enroll up to 20 students at a time. She planned to ease into it, though. She also hoped to have a couple of instructor trainees who eventually will be able to help teach. New sessions will start now every few weeks.

The students have six to eight weeks of theory and practice before opening the doors to provide styling and other services to the public.

That is likely to happen in January, she said.


WENATCHEE — Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort is one of the most affordable skiing destinations in North America, according to an Oct. 13 article by Business Insider.

The publication ranked Mission Ridge No. 4 out of 50 resorts in the United States and Canada for low-cost meals, lodging and slope access.

“We’re super excited to see Mission on the list,” Mission Ridge Marketing Director Tony Hickok said. “One of the things we’re most focused on is really delivering the highest value we can to all our guests and our community.”

According to the publication (businessinsider.com), Mission Ridge’s total cost for equipment rental, a lift ticket, lunch and a stay in local accommodations was $178.98.

All of the top-four resorts were within $1 of the No. 1 spot, Fernie Alpine Resort in British Columbia.

“We actually had no idea about this list coming out, so it was a surprise for us to see that — a pleasant surprise for sure,” Hickok said. “We do feel that it reflects well on Mission Ridge and our area as well.”

Read the article: wwrld.us/2Pd73Hc


EAST WENATCHEE — Pangborn Memorial Airport will begin collecting fees from taxis and shuttles dropping off and picking up passengers as part of an effort to balance its budget.

The elected boards that run the airport have also increased charges for aviation customers and will take a look at “restructuring” the airport’s 15-position staff. Officials did not say if that means eliminating jobs.

The actions taken Oct. 23 by the ports of Chelan and Douglas counties would narrow by about $60,000 the gap between revenue and expenses for the coming year. But airport operations would still be $530,817 in the red.

The gap in funding is covered by the two ports, the airport’s co-owners. The three elected port commissioners from each of the ports serve on the Airport Governing Board.

Narrowing the deficit required a mix of increasing revenue, in the form of introducing new rates and charges, and cutting expenses.

A “restructuring” of administrative payroll accounted for the biggest cuts. Airport Director Trent Moyers said details of what, exactly, that will look like have yet to be determined.

Pangborn has 15 staff positions — four in administration, seven in operations, three at the fueling center and one law enforcement officer. One position is unfilled.

The new rates and charges are in two main areas: those related to the commercial airport terminal and those connected to the general aviation terminal and its fueling station. Rates also increased for some of the hangars and other leasable spaces.

On the commercial side, taxis will pay $1 per trip and shuttles will pay $2 per person for picking up and dropping off passengers next year. A new long-term parking option also is being introduced.

On the general aviation side, visiting aircraft operators who don’t buy fuel will pay a ramp fee and overnight fee, with costs tiered depending on the size of the aircraft.

“This is something new for us,” Moyers said. “We are trying to generate some additional revenue out there and capture some of those dollars we haven’t been getting.”

Research showed other airports charge the fees.

“This is pretty typical,” he said. “This was a model we had seen in Moses Lake. We thought that was appropriate that we should be doing this as well.”

Moyers said tenants, vendors and others affected by the new fee schedule will be notified now that the new rates and charges have been adopted.

The governing board on Oct. 23 also approved Pangborn’s 2019 capital budget, which included a financial commitment to move ahead with changes to the terminal needed to land a second airline — one that will provide service to the San Francisco Bay area.

Those preparations include expanding the airport’s security room from 87 seats to 131 seats, large enough to accommodate passengers waiting for two flights departing close to the same time — one to Seattle and one to San Francisco.

The project also includes building a second office to be used by staff from a potential second airline.

If all goes according to plan, construction would start in February and be complete by summer.

That’s when flights to the San Francisco Bay area are expected to start.

“As of today, we have no signed contract with another airline, but we have strong interest,” said Port of Chelan Deputy Director Jim Kuntz.

A $710,000 project to replace the aviation fuel station and fuel truck parking area also is planned next year.

The Port of Chelan County has agreed to front the costs, which don’t qualify for federal reimbursement. The airport will reimburse the port over time.


CHELAN — Mayor Mike Cooney and the City Council have a message for any cryptocurrency miners wanting to set up shop in Chelan: They’re not interested.

The council passed a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining operations April 24. On Oct. 23, the council approved updating the comprehensive plan to prohibit “any building, structure, real property or premises” from being used for cryptocurrency mining or other activities requiring high energy use.

“It is the position of the Planning Commission that the net benefit to the city for cryptocurrency mining operations does not support a vision for efficient, environmentally friendly and easy access to public utilities,” Project Planner Sarah Schrock wrote in a recommendation to the council.

Cooney said miners could potentially go to the city’s planning department if they believe their power usage would benefit the community. If the planning director agreed, the issue could be raised at a staff meeting and go before the council.

However, Cooney said he doesn’t believe that’s likely to happen.

“As we see it, it’s taking enormous power loads,” he said. “We don’t see jobs come with that. We don’t see economic growth come from that. … We see that it is using power that we have allotted for future development that will add to the community, such as any commercial space or affordable homes. We’re looking for light industry to come to the community, but not at the expense of high-density load usage that creates a need to build another substation.”

He said it’s about being a good steward of available natural resources.

One of his goals in the next year is to attract businesses to Chelan that wouldn’t use as much power as cryptocurrency mining — possibly outdoor recreation or sporting goods stores.

“We have the land, we have the utilities,” he said. “It’s all ready to go, and it would be real jobs that we could sink our teeth into.”


MOSES LAKE — Confluence Health is announcing construction of more medical offices in Moses Lake.

The building is being designed now and construction is expected to begin sometime in 2019, according to a recent Confluence Health news release. The building will be between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet and located at the corner of Yonezawa Boulevard and Road K Northeast.

The purpose of this additional office space is to allow Confluence Health staff to see more patients, Confluence Health spokesman Clint Strand said. The new space will also attract new doctors.

Confluence will also launch a campaign to raise $3.5 million for a new radiation treatment center, according to the news release. The Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation will help.

The total cost of the project will be about $7 million, and Confluence Health is looking at different avenues for providing the additional funding.


WENATCHEE — Kittitas County-based Anderson Family Farms moved into Pybus Public Market in November.

Anderson Family Farms makes body care products, like soaps and lotions, from goat milk. The company has been raising dairy goats on its farm near Ellensburg for over 21 years, according to a press release.

The new vendor will operate under the name “Farm to Face and Body” in the space previously occupied by Cha’ Fine Teas in the market.

The business was chosen from a pool of 20 other food and retail vendors, said Pybus Executive Director Steve Robinson.


WENATCHEE — Chelan and Douglas counties had 1,700 more jobs in September this year compared to last year and another record low unemployment rate — 3.3 percent.

It’s the lowest since the state’s Employment Security Department started keeping electronic records in 1990. It’s also the second lowest unemployment rate in the state for September, topped only by San Juan County’s 3.2 percent.

Industries leading the way in job growth here are familiar — construction, health services and local government, according to the monthly labor summary report distributed by the state’s regional economist Don Meseck.

Construction jobs, climbing for the past 15 months, grew by 10.3 percent this September compared to last, an increase of 300 jobs for a total of 3,200 in the region. That makes it once again the fastest-growing local industry, Meseck noted.

The other industry doing well here is the “private education and health services” industry, which includes mostly private health services providers. It grew 4 percent (300 jobs), following a trend seen for the past 63 months.

It has met or exceeded the pace of statewide growth since August 2017. The category now has a total of 7,800 jobs compared to 7,500 jobs in September 2017.

Local government also continues to add jobs, matching the statewide trend. The category — which includes public schools, public utilities, health districts, police and fire districts — has expanded or remained steady here for 62 months. In September, it accounted for 7,300 jobs compared to 7,100 in September 2017. The 200 jobs is a 2.8 percent bump.

Also following the recent trend locally is the drop in the number of leisure and hospitality jobs, primarily in hotels and restaurants. The number of jobs has contracted for the past five months. This September, it accounted for 6,600 jobs, 300 less than last September, 4.3 percent downturn.

That’s contrary to the statewide trend for the leisure and hospitality industry that has been adding jobs since October 2010.


WENATCHEE — The 218 homes actively listed for sale in the Wenatchee area in October are the most so far this year.

That means more options for buyers, up from 158 active listings in October 2017, and up five homes from September’s 213 listings.

Year-to-date, the number of new listings increased 5 percent over last year, according to the Wenatchee area Real Estate Snapshot Report published Nov. 14 by Pacific Appraisal Associates.

The October statistics also show homes continue to take a little longer to sell than last year in the Wenatchee market, which includes Wenatchee, Malaga, East Wenatchee, Orondo and Rock Island. The 84 homes that sold in October spent an average of 85 days on the market. For the same month last year, 94 homes sold after spending about 80 days on the market.

The median sales price in October ticked up slightly to $328,700 from September’s $325,905. A year ago, the median price was $289,900.

Despite the uptick in active listings, the overall inventory remains low, with a 3.6-month supply for all price ranges combined.

The inventory for homes priced less than $350,000 is less than three months' supply. Homes priced between $551,000 and $700,000 have more than nine months' supply.

Of the 346 combined active and pending listings, 44 percent are priced between $251,000 and $400,000, which also are price ranges selling the fastest.

Highlights from the October 2018 Wenatchee market “Snapshot” real estate report:


WENATCHEE — Impressive job growth in the region has put Wenatchee on another list — this one for cities with the best economies, or at least those adding the most jobs.

The list, published Nov. 12 in USA Today (wwrld.us/2z7Gs5e), was compiled by 24/7 Wall St., which provides reports about financial news. It looked at metro areas across the nation adding the most jobs in the past five years.

Wenatchee, the only Washington state city to make the list, is ranked 22nd, behind Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and ahead of Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia.

The listing notes that Wenatchee’s employment grew by 16.1 percent in the past five years, adding 9,365 jobs.

The region’s leisure and hospitality industry accounted for 1,400 of those, with mining, logging and construction, and education and health services industries each adding more than 1,000.

Also of note is the 4 percent unemployment rate — as of August.

The area’s population growth rate of 4.8 percent also earned attention, outpacing the 3.8 percent national population growth rate.

Topping the list was Lake Charles, Louisiana, which saw job growth of 28.3 percent (24,482 jobs) in the past five years, and then Bend-Redmond, Oregon, which expanded by 26.6 percent (19,621 jobs).