The Hart and Winfree law offices of Sunnyside now have a larger pool of expertise to drawn upon for their Lower Valley clients' legal needs. As of January this year, the longtime local law officers merged with Halverson Northwest Law Group of Yakima. "We actually began the merger process last year, but were waiting for a final decision on a name change for the group before making the merger announcement," explained Steve Winfree, one of the founding partners in the Hart and Winfree offices. Winfree originally began practicing law in Sunnyside in 1976. Paul Hart, who came to Sunnyside about the same time, worked with Charles Shoemaker before going out on his own. In 1980 Winfree and Hart opened their Sunnyside law offices in then the brand new Kamiakin Building on Franklin Avenue. They were later joined by lawyers Raymond Alexander in 1988 and Robert Faber in 1999. Winfree, who also serves as the Sunnyside Port District counsel, said the merger with Halverson Northwest has added a whole new list of attorneys to the local firm. He said the Yakima based office has lawyers specializing in everything from water rights and real estate issues to employment laws and land use planning. "The merger gives us the ability to give our clients a broader range of legal resources and services," Winfree explained.