Tri-City Herald: Thumbs up to our growing food and beverage industries

Santa’s helper

To getting a personalized letter from the Head Elf.

If you visited the Pasco Post Office during December, you likely saw a decorated mailbox especially designated for letters to Santa.

About 200 kids in the Tri-City area used that box and others like it to send letters to Santa this year.

The wishes in those letters are delightful. We know because Mrs. Claus shared a few of them with us.

We don’t know how many of those gift requests were fulfilled this year, but it’s guaranteed that every letter with a readable return address got a personalized return letter from Mrs. Claus.

A big thumbs up to postal employee Lori Cramer who deciphers, reads and answers those letters to help Santa.

As people who still receive Christmas cards know, it’s fun to get a letter in the mail.

We suspect it is a rare and special treat for Santa’s younger penpals.

Food manufacturing

To a growing industry.

A survey by Tri-City Development Council released earlier this month showed that 76 percent of the area’s food and beverage manufacturers surveyed plan to expand.

Two key elements to these growing businesses are tourism and exports.

About a third of the area’s producers send their products overseas, mainly to Asian countries; but a large percentage of products stay in the region.

Of the products that stay local, a significant portion — especially wine — is bought by tourists.

The Tri-Cities has a lot to offer.

The food industry is one more piece of the interconnected plan that gives people a reason to come to the Mid-Columbia — and something to do when they get here.

It’s good to see the food and beverage businesses growing. Its success will add more jobs to the community and enhance the Tri-City experience for all of us.

Lack of an answer

To avoiding levy equity in Gov. Inslee’s budget.

Funding for education is headed to a crisis point in Washington.

The state Supreme Court is demanding the Legislature put more money into basic education at the same time that voters approved a smaller-class size measure that some refer to as a $4 billion budget buster.

Any budget writer is going to have a tough time reconciling the books this year.

And while it’s true that the governor’s budget is a starting point for budget discussions — not a final draft — it’s discouraging to see him sidestep the issue of levy equality in his proposal.

The dollars schools are allowed to collect from local taxpayers is prominent issue in the court’s McCleary decision. It’s one more sticky issue that has to be faced.