Southwesterly winds blast for barbecue biz


West of the Blues Barbeque is headed to the southwestern part of the city this week.

The mobile barbecue vendor will largely be stationed at the Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater during the two-week run of Shakespeare Walla Walla performances that start this week.

Starting Wednesday, West of the Blues will be at the amphitheater every evening through Sunday, then again Aug. 10-14. The business, started by father/daughter team Keith Knotts and Annie Goff, will serve up boxed meals, including barbecue pork sandwiches with baked beans, pasta salad and a brownie for $16. There are also meatless options. Snacks can also be purchased at the concessions, and wine from the region will be available by the glass. The pre-theater meals will be served starting at 6 p.m. throughout this week's duration of "Macbeth." "The Comedy of Errors" runs next week. Show times are at 8 p.m.

Those who plan to catch the evening performances of "Swansong," penned by Whitman College alumnus Patrick Page and set for the Power House Theatre, will also be able to enjoy fine wines by the glass, said Power House spokeswoman Denise Slattery. Foundry Vineyards will be the featured winery on Thursday's opening night. Other wineries scheduled to pour include Cougar Crest Winery on Saturday and Forgeron Cellars on Aug. 12. "Swansong" runs Thursday through Aug. 13. For more information about wines poured before the show and during intermission contact Slattery at


Gesa Credit Union has reached a new milestone in its membership.

The 100,000th member recently joined the Richland-based credit union, which operates two Walla Walla branches.

The landmark number comes on the heels of a four-year surge in membership, officials said in an announcement. More than 25,000 members have joined in the last four years. The number includes members who belonged to the Walla Walla Valley Federal Credit Union when Gesa acquired that institution in 2008. Gesa CEO Christina Lethlean attributed the growth to the operation's commitment to member service and response to member needs, including retirement planning, investment advice and a line of business services.

"We're not as concerned about the actual number of members as much as we are with meeting their needs," Lethlean said in a statement. "When we give members a voice in how the business is run, they know we're all on the same team. And we're grateful to have members who respond to this philosophy."

The membership growth for the 58-year-old operation came through the national recession and banking crisis. Credit union officials said they found new opportunities to meet members expectations, including opening new branches in South Richland, South Kennewick and West Pasco and on Walla Walla's Poplar Street. It also built a new headquarters in the Tri-Cities business and retail district. That building has LEED certification, a credential that indicates it was built to stringent environmental standards.

To celebrate the milestone in membership, a series of events is planned for August and September. More details will be coming.

Gesa has more than $1 billion in assets, more than 310 employees and operates 10 full-service branches.

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


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