Jobless benefits increase

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The Fourth of July will start with a slight bang for those receiving unemployment benefits.

It's the first day of a new increase initiated by the state Employment Security Department.

Starting today the minimum weekly unemployment benefit will go up $3 to $138. The maximum benefit will go up $13 to $583.

Benefits are calculated as a percentage of the average annual wage in the state. The numbers can be a little misleading, however, said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause in the announcement.

The average wage went up about 2 percent last year to about $930 a week, or more than $48,000 a year. The increase is not solely affected by a rise in wages, officials say. It also occurs when there's a reduction of lower paying jobs, or when employers increase hours for part-time employees rather than hire new workers.

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Sandi Wicher, owner of Harmony and Health, recently returned from a 24-day study trip to China.

Wicher, who teaches tai chi classes for health, spent a week at the Chen Bing Taiji academy in Chenjiagou, studying under Master Chen Bing, living with students and learning new taiji forms.

She left there for several days of travel south and spent another week in Wudanshan, studying wushu. She learned the five animal qigong.

A summer session of tai chi starts Tuesday at Many Waters Wellness Center, 820 Sprague St. Call 386-4305 or go to www.manywaterswellnesscenter.com.

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A pair of Walla Walla educators will offer a teacher development workshop this month.

"Learn Today -- Lead Tomorrow" will take place July 11-15 at the Walla Walla Regional Airport.

The workshop, presented by Marc and Gina Yonts of Excel Education Resources, is designed to help K-12 teachers enhance classroom instruction and leadership and invigorate their joy for teaching.

The program is a five-credit course through Eastern Washington University and approved by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Presentations and topics include: Classroom communication plans, English-as-a-second-language strategies, standards-based grading, technology on a budget and more. Four sessions are available each day. Those who sign up can pay $240 plus $2 per clock hour up to 50.

Excel offers seven other EWU courses. To register, go to: www.exceleducationresources.com .

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

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