It's full steam ahead at Forward's new Main Street locale

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Downtown clothing retailer Forward has made a great leap to its new location at 51 E. Main St.

Among its new offerings, the store will reportedly be serving complimentary wine tastings while customers shop.

The store is currently pouring Mansion Creek Cellar's 2010 chardonnay and 2008 Waldheim syrah.

Word is, various wines will be poured on a rotating basis as a way to pamper customers and cross-promote local wineries, likely with a couple of choices from several vintners as the selections.

Forward has developed a following since its opening several years ago for fashion-forward brand names, including Miss Me's, LA Idol Jeans, Rock Revival and BigStar.

The store, owned by Dana Rubenser Budden, has been in its new spot in the Whiteside Building for about a week. It previously operated at 126 E. Main St.

That space will be the future home of The Beehive Cut and Color Bar, which is planning a relocation of its own from above Starbucks.

Forward's hours of operation are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday.

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Forget bad luck on Friday the 13th.

For five downtown wineries, the special date this week will be dedicated to celebrating good fortune and good neighbors.

A cluster of wineries will recognize their downtown neighbors with a special appreciation event from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Participating tasting rooms are Plumb Cellars and Mansion Creek Cellars, 9 S. First Ave.; DaMa Wines, 45 E. Main St.; Sinclair Estate Vineyards, 109 E. Main St.; and Fort Walla Walla Cellars, 145 E. Main St.

Visitors to those locations who bring a business card with a downtown address will receive complimentary tastings at those operations.

Organizers say the event, dubbed "Downtown Appreciation Day," is designed not only as a thank-you to fellow merchants and downtown employees but also as a way for neighbors to get better acquainted.

The Sweet Putt will celebrate the recent opening of its 18-hole outdoor course with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

Walla Walla's new miniature golf course, located at 417 Wellington Ave., will celebrate its opening with some official fanfare courtesy of the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The two-hour event begins at 5 p.m. Chamber members and their guests will golf for free. Regular cost is $5.50 for adults and $4.50 for kids.

The celebration will also include a raffle for a 10-pack of games.

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The Sweet Putt's nine-hole indoor course opened late last year. Its new outdoor course includes berms, gullies and ramps on Walla Walla Valley-themed holes. For more details, call 876-4949 or visit thesweetputt.com.

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The Employment Security Department has a message for those on unemployment: Keep your eyes peeled for a yellow envelope.

Workers receiving long-term unemployment benefits -- referred to as emergency unemployment compensation -- will be receiving such correspondence with an accompanying appointment letter.

Under a new federal law, most people receiving emergency benefits are required to make an appointment at their local WorkSource office for an orientation, skill assessment and review of their work-search efforts.

Those who fail to attend may have to repay some or all of their unemployment benefits, according to an announcement from the state.

The yellow envelope is a way to get claimants' attention in an effort to give every opportunity for compliance.

"Congress has come to realize that the employment services offered through WorkSource help the unemployed return to work faster," said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause in a statement. "Getting back to work faster is better for the workers' financial wellbeing, and it reduces the strain on the unemployment trust fund."

Washington was the first state to conduct a study of the effectiveness of WorkSource services.

The 2009 study found that unemployed workers who received job-search assistance from WorkSource were up to 37 percent more likely to find work within the study period than those who didn't receive the services.

By the end of this year, an estimated 55,000 emergency-benefit recipients will be scheduled for the required meeting at WorkSource.

The new law also requires recipients to actively look for work in order to remain eligible for benefits.

For many years, Washington has required people on unemployment to conduct at least three job-search activities each week, but numerous other states have fewer or no work-search requirements.

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

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