Stone Soup to offer thanks to vets

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Stone Soup Caf will say "thanks" to veterans and military personnel Thursday with complimentary drinks and a discount.

Veterans and military personnel will receive free coffee, tea or fountain soda and 10 percent off all other items at the downtown caf, 105 E. Alder St., on Veterans Day.

The eatery also plans to start a regular senior discount. Starting next Monday, senior citizens will receive a free coffee, tea or fountain soda when they purchase a meal. A 5 percent discount will be provided for each meal that is equal to $6 or more. The discount is not available with Stone Soup's free delivery.

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Walla Walla's Harvest Foods will also salute veterans Thursday.

The Southgate grocery store, 905 S. Second Ave., will offer a free cup of "joe" and a treat from one of its "donut dollies" to veterans between 7 and 11 a.m. that day.

Veterans also will receive a 10 percent discount on purchases all day.

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The number of weeks of benefits available to the unemployed will soon begin to shrink.

Federal emergency unemployment benefits begin phasing out at the end of this month, according to an announcement this morning from the Employment Security Department.

For the past year, eligible workers receiving unemployment insurance could receive up to 99 weeks of benefits. That included up to 26 weeks of regular benefits, up to 53 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation and up to 20 weeks of extended benefits.

With the end of the emergency unemployment compensation, those drawing regular benefits at the end of November and those who file new claims after Nov. 27 will now be limited to 46 weeks of benefits, according to the state.

"Although Congress has stepped in at the last minute and continued the program several times over the past two years, it doesn't look like there will be another save this time," Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said in a prepared statement. "As a result, thousands of unemployed workers will find their benefits ending sooner than they expected."

Emergency unemployment compensation benefits are paid out in a series of four tiers. When the program ends, claimants will be allowed to continue claiming benefits through the duration of their existing tier, but those in tiers 1, 2 or 3 may not advance to the next tier. Instead, they would advance to the extended-benefits program.

Employment Security is taking this week to notify about 238,000 claimants who may be affected by the expiration of the emergency benefits. After completing some final computer programming over Thanksgiving weekend, the department will send notices telling claimants which of the four tiers they are in, if applicable, and will be able to tell them how many weeks of emergency unemployment compensation and extended benefits they have remaining.

Anyone who runs out of benefits before the end of November may have received more emergency unemployment compensation benefits than they were entitled to. But under state law, they are not required to repay the benefits because the overpayment was not their fault

A special call center is available for questions related to the benefits. Contact information will be provided to claimants at that time. Washington's unemployed have collected more than $3 billion in federal unemployment benefits since July 2008.

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

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