Benton County certifies West Richland's incorporation on June 13, 1955.

  • By Kate Kershner
  • Posted 8/26/2013
  • Essay 10442

On June 13, 1955, the county auditor and board of commissioners for Benton County officially incorporate the city of West Richland. In an election held on June 7, 1955, the majority of the roughly 600 residents voted to incorporate as a town of the fourth class. This occurs a year after residents of two smaller suburbs of Richland decided to merge to create West Richland. Although West Richland will never see the influx of population that the nearby Tri-Cities receive, by the 2010 census the population will reach 11,811.

Joining Forces

West Richland was founded after two separate cites, Enterprise and Heminger City, voted in separate elections to change their town name to West Richland and to merge. On December 19, 1953, Heminger City was the first town to do so, with 99 residents approving the measure versus 39 opposed.

One vocal critic of the change was Carl Heminger. Heminger had established the small town about five years before. He had established the original Heminger City a mile and a half to the west. In 1949 the residents of this original Heminger City had voted to rename the town Enterprise. The name change for the second Heminger City became a second defeat for Heminger's idea of naming a town after himself. 

On March 15, 1954, residents of Enterprise voted 218 to 80 to change their town's name to West Richland, and an official merger of the two city councils began. On June 7, 1955, a vote was held in the city of West Richland, and the majority favored incorporation. Along with incorporation, the city's first mayor, James O. Zwicker, was voted into office, along with city council members Wesley J. Meyers, Robert J. Marlow, Melvin E. Schultz, Opal R. Morton, and Oliver J. Hove. The incorporation was officially certified on June 13, 1955.

Sources: Pat Allstead and Bonnie Bretz. "History of West Richland," West Richland Chamber of Commerce website accessed on July 2013 (; Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Richland" (by Jim Kershner), (accessed July 2013); "Heminger City's Name Goes So Heminger Will Go, Too," The Seattle Times, December 22, 1953, p. 12; "Enterprise Votes to Change Name," Ibid., March 16, 1945, p. 2; "Renaming Area Battle Looms," The Spokesman-Review, November 26, 1953, p. 6; "2008 Annual Budget," The City of West Richland; "2010 Census," website accessed July 2013 (

Related Topics:   Cities & Towns

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