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Individual Chamber Members

The Greater Connell Area Chamber of Commerce sees value in anyone who has an interest in the promotion of our business sector and the betterment of our communities so, in addition to businesses, they welcome individuals to join as members, too. An Individual Membership is for any community member who has an interest in the Chamber of Commerce’s good works in our communities. It is also a good opportunity for individuals who have retired from the business community but want to continue to stay in touch. Currently, there are 7 individual members including Black Blackwell, Burl Booker, Kara Booker, John Lindner, Pam Moon, Representative Joe Schmick, and Gene Stocking.

Blacky Blackwell…..moved to Connell in the spring of 1983 and worked for Hanford, cleaning it up and shutting down plants. During that same time-frame, he also worked for the Feathers Thompson Ranch. Eventually retiring from Hanford, he started work at Paradise Farms as a mechanic where he permanently retired from in 2010. He is a former member of the Connell Community Club and was mayor of Connell from 2014 thru 2017. He fondly remembers the healthy number of businesses that existed in Connell in the 1980’s. He thinks a healthy business economy exists by promoting and supporting local businesses and is important to attracting and bringing in new business to a city. With that mindset, even though his initial membership in the Chamber of Commerce was because of his term of service as mayor for the City of Connell, he has continued his membership as an individual.

Burl Booker….was born and raised in the Mesa and Connell area. Burl graduated from Connell High School in 1977 and after attending college, he returned to the area to farm and raise cattle. Although he has a personal interest in the success of the community as a whole, as a tax payer through real estate investments in the city of Connell, he has a vested interest in the business climate as well and would like to see Connell grow. In addition to being a Chamber of Commerce member, he is an active member in the Connell Community Club, CHS Ag Advisory Board, President of Eagles Nest, Fire Commissioner with Franklin County Fire Dept., and President of Columbia Basin Jr Livestock Show.

Kara Booker….is a 1985 graduate of Connell High School. Kara returned to the Connell area after marrying Burl Booker in 1990. Kara has always had a strong sense of community. While raising their family of 4 daughters, Kara’s community involvement started with volunteering for activities and programs at the NFSD schools. Her volunteer efforts continue still today as a member of the NFSD School Board, Connell Community Club, Columbia Basin Jr Livestock Show, Connell Fall Festival, Connell Community Float, and treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce.

John Lindner….was originally a westsider working with the King County Sheriffs Department for 31 years before “officially” moving to the area 12 years ago. John’s wife, Carol (Colley) though, grew up and graduated from Connell. After moving to Connell, they owned and operated The Old Hardware Store for 10 years before recently selling it to the current owners. Believing that being active and involved in the community is important, John is not only a member of the Chamber of Commerce but can often be seen in the audience of City Council meetings to keep informed and for the fun of it. John is also a member of the Connell Fall Festival committee and an active member of the Connell Community Club taking the lead to coordinate the Political Candidates Meet and Greet Forum and organize the Winterfest Parade. John really enjoys the Connell community and stated, “Life did not get interesting until I moved here”.

Pam Moon….was raised in Connell graduating from Connell High School in 1973 and has lived here ever since with the exception of very few years. Her dad owned and operated a successful fertilizer business, Welch Brothers Corporation, for over 40 years. While working for him, she also opened up her own business, a fitness center called “Let’s Get Physical”. Pam attributes her sense of community to her dad who was a successful independent business owner and her mom who had a heart for volunteerism. Through the years of Pam’s Chamber involvement, she has served as both president and secretary. Pam states, “It’s the people that make this community and surrounding area special”.

Representative Joe Schmick…. is a member of the Washington House of Representatives, representing the 9th District, which includes Asotin, Garfield, Franklin, Adams, Whitman and south Spokane counties, since 2007. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee and on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee as well as is the Ranking Member on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. Joe is a former second-generation farmer and a small-business owner. He appreciates and supports the work that local Chamber of Commerce’s do for their communities. Joe and his wife, Kim, reside in Colfax, WA.

Gene Stocking….has an extensive history with the Connell Chamber of Commerce. Beginning back in 1983 when he was branch manager of Seattle First National Bank, Gene has continued to remain a member even after retiring from Community First Bank a few years ago, concluding a 36 yr banking career. During his tenure with the Chamber of Commerce, Gene served as president for 6 plus terms, served on various committees of Chamber sponsored events, and was an integral part in getting the Chamber involved with the Community Float. Throughout the years, Gene has served the community as a volunteer in various ways…Boy Scouts, Coyote Ridge Correction Center, Benton Franklin Council of Governments, Connell Parks & Recreation Board, North Franklin Development Board, Connell Community Garden, and Jr Miss Program to name a few.

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Franklin County Graphic

The Franklin County Graphic is currently owned by Kathy Valdez. Kathy has owned the Graphic since 2008 but has been working at the Graphic since the early 1980’s. As she recalls, she is the 6th owner to run and operate the Franklin County Graphic – she worked for the previous 4 owners. Kathy has been a typesetter, did newspaper layout, worked in the dark room developing pictures, and many other tasks – she said “I have done everything except the reporting.” The Graphic was first printed in 1955 and has been recording the “history” of the North Franklin communities ever since.

The Franklin County Graphic is the only active and legal-printing paper in Franklin County. It is the one place that “the Legals” are required to be printed in because it’s the only designated paper in the county. The Graphic used to be a paper that people would pay a subscription fee to receive it for the year. That changed when the Graphic became the only paper in the county to publish the Legals. It is now free to approximately 2,700 households that are in and around the area.

In addition to the Legals, the Graphic offers the community direct business advertisements, city news, local school information and sports articles, event information, letters to the editor, and interesting stories about things that are happening within the community as well as birth/wedding announcements, and obituaries (offered at no cost to the family). As the one employed reporter can’t be everywhere to report on everything, they are happy to offer space to publish articles submitted from community members. Currently there are 3 people who work for the Graphic – Kathy Valdez (owner/editor), Katherine Bingham- Trowbridge (reporter), and Becky McGuin (proof-reader). Kathy noted that social media has had a huge impact on not only the Graphic but printed newspapers in general. Not needing to wait for a daily newspaper, or in the Graphics case, weekly, news can now be received in the very moment. The Graphic wants to remain relevant to the local community though by being consistent with the services they are able to provide. Looking forward to retirement at some point in the future, Kathy hopes that someone with the same drive and ambition she had years ago will step up to keep the Graphic in operation, when the time comes.

Throughout the years, the Graphic has been a generous in-kind member of the Chamber of Commerce in advertising the various community events that the Chamber sponsors. In the last seven months, the Graphic has been a great partner in publishing the Chamber of Commerce “highlight” feature articles for our business members…THANK YOU!!

The Graphic office is generally open Mondays 9-5pm, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and Thursday 8-12 noon. They are typically closed Friday-Sunday. The Graphic is printed and delivered to the community on Wednesday’s for those who receive their mail by PO Box. Those that live in the rural country receive their Graphic on Thursdays. If you would like to submit an article or ad for print in the Graphic, the deadline is Mondays by 4pm. You can email them to franklincountygraphic@gmail.com The Franklin County Graphic office is located in at 346 S Columbia Ave in Connell. Their phone number is 509-234-3181.

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REH Co

REH Co is a family farm owned and operated by Greg & Julie Hart just a few miles east of Connell. They incorporated in 1973 but their family has been in Connell for over 100 years. They are dryland wheat farmers. As farmers don’t run on “business hours” but rather on “Farmer hours” – so the schedule of the year and weather. Their harvest time is July/August and runs anywhere from 2 ½ to 4 weeks long. They have 2 full time employees who help with daily farming operations and 1 seasonal employee.

REH Co. expanded 2 years ago when Gregg took over farm ground and equipment from his cousin’s farm John Hart. That expansion nearly doubled what they farm yearly. They farm now approximately 6,500 acres a year. As mentioned this is a family farming operation, Gregg made the decision to come back and farm when he was in college and took over from his dad, Richard E Hart in 1987. REH got its name from the initials of Gregg’s dad Richard.

REH Co and Gregg & Julie Hart have always been great supporters of Connell and the community. They have been chamber members and supporters of events, support local businesses as much as they can, support the schools and their church throughout different events and also offer scholarships to juniors/seniors yearly. Gregg encourages his employees to be active in the community and support the community as well – as this community is what makes them enjoy and appreciate living here and he wants to give back, so others will follow the lead and do the same.

Gregg & Julie have raised their 3 kids here in Connell and now have 6 grandkids that they enjoy spending time with both here on the farm and going to visit them. They look forward to spending more time with the grandkids as the years go by.

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Michael Jay’s Restaurant

Michael Jay’s is owned by David & Casey Hart. They bought the restaurant in 1979 from the John Moon Family when the business had only been running for 5 months. Originally the M&M motel and Michael Jay’s were owned together. David and Casey were in the process of moving to Spokane area and buying a different restaurant when they got the call to purchase Michael Jay’s – this gave them the opportunity to move to Connell and come back home where they both grew up.

Michael Jay’s got its name from the 2 original owners, as their middle names were Michael and Jay – David and Casey never changed it as it had a good ring to it. They are currently the only family dining restaurant and bar in Connell. They have an All-American full menu, have a banquet room for private events and meetings as well as they also do catering for events too on and off site. David & Casey both work at the restaurant and have 14 employees total – 9 of them are full time. The most employees they have had while running the restaurant is 35, but that was many years ago when they also had a band that played on the weekends.

Michael Jay’s offers local jobs as well as family dining and the only bar in town to locals and visitors. They have been huge supporters of chamber events over the years – sponsoring fireworks, Fall Festival, Harvest Festival (Wine & Brew), and the Chamber Banquet. As well as supporting the community in other capacities too. They enjoy their loyal customers and seeing them daily and visiting as well as meeting new people who are stopping by to visit. They aren’t looking to expand Michael Jay’s but rather looking forward to retirement – they do hope that someone young and eager will want to continue with the business and they can sell and enjoy the next part of their lives.

Michael Jay’s is open Tuesday- Thursday 6am – 8pm, Friday/Saturday 6am – 9pm and Sundays 8am – 3pm, Mondays they are Closed. They are located near the south entrance of town at 710 S Columbia Ave. If you want to make reservations for dining or for the banquet room or have questions on catering, the phone number is 234-8841.

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Connell Inn & Suites

Connell Inn & Suites is owned by Valiant Hotels LLC under Jay Patel. They have been in the hotel/motel business since 1970. Jay and his son bought the motel – formerly known as the Tumbleweed Motel from Regina Janosky in April 2016. They are the 3rd owners to run the motel in Connell. When Jay bought it in 2016 they started with renovations to the rooms and exterior of the building as well, doing upgrades and many improvements. The motel is open 24 hours a day. They have rooms that offer 1,2, and 3 beds with amenities; microwave, refrigerator and cooktop.

Connell Inn & Suites has 2 full time employees. While they don’t plan to expand here in Connell – Valiant Hotels LLC does plan to continue in the hotel/motel business across the US. Jay saw that the motel needed to stay open and had a good customer base already and decided it would be a good investment.

The motel was built in 1946 with the front office, living quarters and front rooms by John & Velva Dougherty. The motel and the gas/service station which was originally a Texaco (now the Connell Gas & Food Mart) were operated and owned together by the Dougherty’s. In the 1950’s they built the pool house and then the back set of motel rooms. They sold it to the second owners Harlan & Regina Janosky in 1972. Janosky’s purchased the Annex buildings (across the street) in 1975 which had extra rooms and also housed the laundry/cleaning facility. They ran the motel and gas station until they sold the gas station to Quinton Booker in 1982-83. Then the motel, annex and pool were all sold after 44 years of ownership to the current and 3rd owners Jay & Valiant Hotels LLC in 2006.

Connell Inn & Suites is located at 433 S Columbia Ave. To make reservations you can go online to their website Connellinn.com or by calling 234-2081. They look forward to having new guests and continuing to make the upgrades and improvements to the rooms and motel to enhance every guest stay.