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Sat., Feb. 5, 2011

Mediation ordered in apple lawsuit

MINNEAPOLIS – A judge has dismissed most of the claims in a lawsuit apple growers filed against the University of Minnesota and ordered them into mediation to resolve a dispute over licensing rights to the new SweeTango apple, now grown in Washington among other states.

The University of Minnesota developed the SweeTango apple as the successor to the popular Honeycrisp apple, which also came from the university. SweeTango was released in 2009, but the university and its partners only licensed certain orchards to grow it.

Associated Press

Avista board OKs dividend hike

Avista Corp.’s board of directors voted to raise the company’s quarterly dividends by 2.5 cents per share.

The board declared a quarterly dividend of 27.5 cents per share on the company’s common stock, or dividends of $1.10 per share over a 12-month period.

The dividend is payable March 15 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 18.

Avista’s board has been working to increase the company’s stock dividends, bringing them closer to the utility industry’s averages, said Scott Morris, Avista’s chairman and CEO.

He said a payout ratio near the industry average of 60 to 70 percent is important for attracting investors.

Becky Kramer

Tincan receives Microsoft grant

Microsoft Corp. has awarded a one-year grant of $216,000 to Spokane nonprofit group Tincan to accelerate technology skill training and job search for area residents.

Tincan, which promotes technology access for underserved communities, partnered in a grant application to Microsoft with WorkSource’s NextGen Zone, Goodwill of Spokane, the Workforce Development Council and Volunteers of America.

The grant partners will use the money to work specifically with younger workers, 18 to 25, said Executive Director Karen Michaelson.

“This funding gives us the opportunity to integrate our strong technological literacy skills, which are critical in today’s workplace, with the career exploration and training strengths of our project partners,” Michaelson said.

Tom Sowa

Utt becomes RiverBank president

Steve Utt has been appointed president of RiverBank.

He takes the position from Duane Brandenburg, who will remain with the Spokane bank as chief executive officer.

Utt has been RiverBank’s chief credit officer.

The two men are co-founders of RiverBank, which was organized in 2006. The bank has $140 million in assets.

Utt began his 25-year banking career at F&M, and also worked at AmericanWest.

Brandenburg said Utt’s promotion is part of RiverBank’s management transition plan.

The appointment requires approval by regulators.

Bert Caldwell


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