Airport gift shop space is open

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The defunct airport gift shop: Prime real estate for business or a self-serve space for airline passengers?

After the closure of the latest gift shop, plans for the space are up in the air, so to speak.

Port of Walla Walla officials might lease it out as office space to generate revenue for the airport or convert it into a lounge for passengers waiting to go through security screening.

If it’s the latter, the space would likely be equipped with a flat-screen television and work stations, where passengers could use the airport’s free wi-fi. It would likely have a vending machine or two for snacks.

Before making a decision, Port officials want to know if there’s interest in leasing the space.

One thing it likely won’t be: another gift shop. Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz said multiple operators have tried to make a go of it there, but the limited commercial flight schedule is be a challenge in generating business.

For information, call the Port at 25-3100.

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The onetime "Voice of the Wa-Hi Blue Devils" is a new face at Tourism Walla Walla.

Former local radio broadcaster Andrew Holt has been hired as the new tourism services manager for the agency that promotes the Walla Walla Valley.

Residents may recognize Holt for his years on the radio. Raised in Southern California, the UCLA grad has lived in the Northwest for 16 years. He moved to Walla Walla in 2003 and became news and sports director at 1490 KTEL. In his five years there, he was the play-by-play voice of the Blue Devils for four seasons. He was morning host of 1420 KUJ’s "Walla Walla Live."

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Certified Public Accountant Jan Nelsen has joined the staff at Hale & Smith, PLLC.

Nelsen brings more than 19 years of tax preparation experience, including individual, partnership and corporate income tax returns. She is a longtime resident of Walla Walla. "It has been a difficult time for our local economy," said David Hale, CPA and partner. "But adding Jan gives our firm more resources to continue to help clients navigate through these times towards continued success."

In the Drumheller Building, Hale & Smith, PLLC offers tax planning and preparation, accounting, payroll and business consulting. Call 529-5417 for details.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.

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