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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Sustainable Works and the Water Department collaborate to help conserve

Even though it's been raining this week, mark my words: Summer is upon us. 

So prepare to "Slow The Flow." What does that mean? With a new rate structure in effect water customers are encouraged to conserve - especially in dry months. The City of Spokane Water Department and SustainableWorks, a non-profit organization that promotes energy efficiency, are partnering to help you save water.

City water customers who participate in Sustainable Works’ “Save Energy Today” audit program will receive a water conservation kit, provided by the City of Spokane, along with the energy-saving products and recommendations provided through the audit.

The City continues to encourage residents to “Slow the Flow” and conserve water. Earlier this year, the Spokane City Council adopted new water efficiency goals for indoor and outdoor water use. The City is working to reduce indoor residential water use by 0.5 percent a year and outdoor water use by residents, businesses, and government by 2 percent per year.

Sustainable Works launches Save Energy Today program


Here's a great way that Spokane residents can reduce their heating and cooling expenses.

SustainableWorks’ new Save Energy Today program can help you save energy, lower your utility bills, increase your home’s comfort and value, and reduce your carbon footprint. The one day energy-saving program combines an assessment of your home’s energy usage with immediate improvements to your home’s energy efficiency such as duct sealing, air sealing and installation of energy saving light bulbs. The Save Energy Today program is a $95 cost to the homeowner ($1200 value).

Here’s how it works:

1. Sign-up for Save Energy Today online by visiting www.sustainableworks.com, and clicking “Sign-up,” or by calling (509) 443-3471. Once you have signed up, we will contact you to schedule your Save Energy Today assessment, which takes about 4 to 6 hours.

AmericanWest agrees to buy Seattle bank

AmericanWest Bank plans to buy a Seattle-based bank for $7.2 million in a move that gives the Spokane institution a larger footprint in Western Washington.

Viking Bank has seven branches, assets valued at $406 million and deposits totaling $379 million. The agreement still requires federal regulatory approval, but is expected to close by the end of this year.

AmericanWest has 63 branches in Washington, Idaho, California and Utah. Earlier this year it acquired Bank of the Northwest, which has offices in the Puget Sound region. It also agreed over the summer to buy Sunrise Bank, a Southern California institution.

AmericanWest has about $2 billion in assets and deposits of $1.6 billion.

The financial terms of the deal, characterized as a merger, call for shareholders of Viking to receive $7.2 million in cash, or $2.65 a share.

About 41.7 percent of the bank’s shareholders have agreed to vote all of their shares in favor of the merger, according to a statement issued by AmericanWest Bank on Thursday morning.

INB parent posts second-quarter loss

Spokane-based Northwest Bancorporation, Inc., the bank holding company for Inland Northwest Bank, today reported a net loss of $249,000 for the second quarter of the year, compared to a profit of $269,000 for the same quarter in 2010.

After accrual of dividends on preferred stock and related adjustments, the net loss for common shareholders was $418,000 compared to a profit of $100,000 a year ago.

This represents a loss of 14 cents per share for the quarter, compared to a gain of 4 cents per share in the second quarter last year.

Randall L. Fewel, President and CEO of the company and the bank, said in a prepared statement, "The road to full recovery from the worst recession in 90 years is indeed a long and bumpy one. As a result of a higher level of charged-off loans, and after an analysis of the adequacy of the loan loss reserve, management decided to expense $1.5 million into the reserve during the second quarter this year compared to $950,000 during the same quarter last year. That difference of $581,000 drove the decline in profitability for the quarter."

Fewel said on a positive note, total impaired loans decreased $3.7 million, or 10.1 percent, from Dec. 31, 2010, to June 30, dropping from $37.2 million to $33.5 million. Also, foreclosed real estate dropped $634,000, or 16 percent during that six-month period, from $4 million to $3.3 million, he noted.

Sterling Financial reports $7.6 million in 2Q earnings

Sterling Financial Corporation, the bank holding company of Sterling Savings Bank, earned $7.6 million in the second quarter, or 12 cents per share, the Spokane-based company said today.

The net income is compares to $5.4 million, or 9 cents per share, for the first quarter, and a loss of $58.2 million, or $73.91 per share, for the second quarter of 2010.

Loan originations in the second quarter were $883 million, a 41 percent increase over the previous quarter.

Nonperforming assets declined by $131.3 million, or 21 percent, for the quarter.

Greg Seibly, Sterling’s president and CEO, said in a prepared statement, “Sterling’s earnings growth for the quarter was a result of net interest margin expansion and growth of non-interest income. The margin expansion was a function of growth of the loan portfolio and the success of our deposit strategy, which reduced the cost of deposits by 10 basis points for the quarter. The loan growth was a result of higher loan production, which outpaced the significant reduction in nonperforming assets. Our production teams are continuing to generate momentum as we enter the second half of the year.”

Another truckload over the edge…

Good morning, Netizens…


We can add another piece to this David Horsey cartoon which aptly depicts the bailout of the American economy, as Freddie Mac Acting Chief Financial Officer David Kellermann committed suicide yesterday. If you look somewhere down at the bottom of the cliff over which the dump truck has been dumping our taxpayer dollars, you may see his body there, along with various other dignitaries that have bit the bullet rather than face their ignominy, if not the disgrace of having led us to this place in history.


The real question, which so haunts me, is how much longer will the government, our government, continue tossing good money after bad over the cliff before someone, with the cajones to do so, says, “ENOUGH ALREADY!” and stops the show?


Of course, this begs the question who really runs the economy of this country: the United Auto Workers or the people? I’ve gotten into deep trouble for asking harder questions than that, but it does seem to be a logical and thus important question to me.


Dave

Teachers, unimpressed with a much-touted bill to redefine basic education, have this to say…

Teachers and their union are profoundly underwhelmed by House Bill 2261, which passed the Senate yesterday with much fanfare. Proponents say the bill is a path to the biggest overhaul in school funding in decades — billions of dollars —  but Republicans and the Washington Education Association point out the bill includes no money source. Here’s the WEA’s video take on the situation, with a little help from Tom Cruise.