Timberland Bancorp ranked 16th in Seattle Times’ annual ranking of the region’s top public companies

Timberland Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq:TSBK) (“Timberland” or “the Company”) today announced that it was ranked 16(th) in the region in the Seattle Times’ annual review of Northwest public companies.

“Being recognized as a leader in the Northwest for our ongoing growth and profitability is an honor, particularly in light of the tough industry conditions over the past few years and the competitive nature of our business,” noted Michael R. Sand, CEO and President of Timberland Bancorp. “To be ranked in the top 20 companies this year, and as the fifth best financial institution in the region, not only reflects our solid earnings and strong capital position but also the talent and commitment of our staff to our customers and shareholders.”

To be considered for The Seattle Times’ “Best of the Northwest” companies must be headquartered in Washington, Oregon or Idaho, and traded on a major stock exchange during all of 2013. Additionally, company shares cannot have closed below $2 at any time during the past year. Metrics reviewed to determine company status in the list included: free cash-flow yield, return on invested capital (ROIC), asset turnover and stock-price appreciation.

About Timberland Bancorp, Inc.

Timberland Bancorp, Inc., a Washington corporation, is the holding company for Timberland Bank (“Bank”). The Bank opened for business in 1915 and serves consumers and businesses across Grays Harbor, Thurston, Pierce, King, Kitsap and Lewis counties, Washington with a full range of lending and deposit services through its 22 branches (including its main office in Hoquiam).

Vancouver coin company accused of cashing in without delivering

More than two dozen people have contacted Better Business Bureau to complain about Blue Moon Coins out of Vancouver, Wash., after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company, which sells wholesale precious metals and coins, has earned an “F” rating with Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington after failing to respond to six complaints.

Customers allege that after placing orders, the products do not arrive; the company has racked up 25 complaints within the last three years including 19 serious ones. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office says it has 16 complaints against the business from 2013 to 2014.

One customer says he lost $168,000 after placing an order with Blue Moon Coins in September 2013. After months of attempted contact, the man tells BBB that he still has not been able to reach the company or receive a refund.

A Washington State customer tells BBB that he purchased $6,000 in merchandise from Blue Moon Coins in early January, but when trying to cancel the order, he claims the company never responded. He now wants to warn other potential customers before they do business. “I want the public to know, so someone else doesn’t get caught in this trap,” he says. 

The BBB accreditation of Blue Moon Coins was revoked in December 2013 after the business failed to comply with the BBB Code of Business Practices.

BBB is concerned about the serious nature of these complaints and reminds consumers to properly research companies at bbb.org before making purchases.

New scam sweeping US, hoping you return the call after “One Ring”

First recognized by Better Business Bureaus on the East Coast, the “One Ring” phone scam is now being reported across the United States. As an industry leader in identifying and tracking emerging scam trends, BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is alerting the public to this simple—yet extremely effective—ploy that can result in unauthorized charges on wireless statements.

Automated dialers blast thousands of random calls to mobile numbers that are gleaned from public listings or obtained from black market dealers—who hustle “sucker lists”—but disconnect after one ring. The scammers count on call recipients to notice the missed calls in call logs and return them out of curiosity.

However, return calls are often directed to expensive international hotlines—sometimes peddling “adult entertainment”—that can charge upwards of $19.95 to connect plus additional costs per minute. Charges typically appear on month-end statements as “premium services.”

Consumers and businesses report calls from several different area codes:

  • Dominican Republic—809
  • Jamaica—876
  • British Virgin Islands—284
  • Grenada—473

 

The illegal process of sneaking unapproved charges onto phone bills is referred to as “cramming” by the Federal Trade Commission, and is one of the most common consumer complaints in America.

While it is unlikely that recipients will be billed for accepting incoming calls, wireless carriers assume that users accept charges by voluntarily returning calls. BBB reminds consumers to not be dumb with smartphones:

  • Never return calls to unfamiliar foreign numbers.
  • Regularly check wireless statements and immediately report discrepancies.
  • Add phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry and report violations.

For more information on the latest scams, visit BBB’s Scam Source.

Washington Charter School Commission denies proposed school for Twin Harbors

Washington’s statewide charter schools commission appears ready to approve six proposals for charter schools to open in the state, but a school that would service Grays Harbor and Pacific County is not among them.
The Charter School Commission posted its analysis on proposals for 19 schools vying to be among Washington’s first charter schools yesterday afternoon.
The panel said that the Evergreen Leadership Academy did not meet their standards, citing the lack of a “well-developed” plan to launch the charter school in Grays Harbor. The panel also noted the parent company Pioneer Youth Corps of Oregon operates a school in Oregon that has a history of low financial performance and non-renewal.
The panel is scheduled to meet Thursday.

Evergreen Leadership Academy_012414

Target Breach Costs Mounting for Northwest Credit Unions

The massive Target breach has already cost Northwest credit unions an estimated $1.3 million, as they work fast and furiously to protect their 4.5 million consumer members.

“A survey of Oregon and Washington credit unions finds potential for over 258,000 of our members’ credit and debit cards to have been impacted, so our credit unions worked quickly to prevent fraud against their members,” said Lynn Heider, vice president of public relations and communications for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). “Since news of the breach came to our attention in December, Northwest credit unions have done everything they can to help their members, including reissuing cards to prevent fraud, and investing in extra staff hours to answer members’ calls.”

Target confirmed the breach affected the credit and debit cards of up to 110 million consumers. In addition, up to 70 million consumers’ names, home and email addresses, and phone numbers were also compromised.

“Consumers who monitor their card activity and report suspicious purchases to their financial institutions are generally not liable for the expense of the fraud,” Heider said, “but because credit unions are cooperatives, the cost of these breaches could ultimately be shouldered by the members.”

For that reason, the NWCUA is encouraging its member credit unions to report all cost data to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The data will be useful as the credit union movement pushes for retailer accountability in legislatures and courts. The survey indicates thus far, Oregon and Washington credit unions have incurred expenses of about $5.10 for each card being reissued, totaling over $1.3 million in the region. Nationally, CUNA estimates, credit unions have incurred up to $30 million in expenses. The results don’t include the cost of any fraud losses which may occur later, and not all credit unions have reported their expenses yet.

“Northwest credit unions are taking precautions to prevent fraud against their members and we will vigorously pursue any possible recourse in their behalf,” said Heider.

Public input sought on potential habitat restoration project near Astoria

Portland, Ore. – The Bonneville Power Administration is seeking public input and comment on potential environmental impacts from a proposed project to restore a tidal marsh in Clatsop County, Ore., to benefit salmon and steelhead. An open house describing the proposed work will be held Jan. 14, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Astoria.
The Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project proposes to modify a levee to inundate historic wetlands on a 221-acre property at the confluence of the Wallooskee and Youngs rivers some five miles from the Columbia River. The restoration would include the creation of a network of tidal channels and the re-establishment of native vegetation. The project would enhance rearing and estuary habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead as well as provide habitat for wildlife such as deer, elk and river otter.
BPA is considering funding the project to help mitigate for the impacts of the construction and operation of federal dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers, collectively referred to as the Federal Columbia River Power System. The work is being done by Astoria Wetlands, an environmental resources company.
After the restoration efforts, Astoria Wetlands would turn the property over to the Cowlitz Indian Tribe for long-term stewardship. BPA would maintain a conservation easement to ensure permanent protection of the property’s conservation values. To understand the potential environmental impacts of this proposal, BPA will prepare an environmental assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be a cooperating agency in the development of the assessment in their role as a permitting agency for levee modification and wetland work.

Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project Open House
Date: 4-7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14
Where: Nehalem Room, Oregon Department of Forestry, 92219 Highway 202, Astoria,
Ore.

At the meeting, there will be no formal presentation. Instead, members of the public can review displays and other materials. Representatives from BPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Astoria Wetlands will be on hand to answer questions. Public comments will be accepted at the meeting.
Additionally, comments will be accepted through Jan. 27 online at www.bpa.gov/goto/WallooskeeYoungs as well as the following venues:
Mail: Bonneville Power Administration, Public Affairs – DKE, P.O. Box 14428,
Portland, OR 97291-4428
Fax: 503-230-4019
Email: comments@bpa.gov
Phone: 800-622-4519 (toll-free)
Please refer to Wallooskee-Youngs Confluence Restoration Project when leaving a comment.

WA Natural Resources Board OKs purchase of Wahkiakum forestland for Common School Trust

OLYMPIA – At its regular monthly meeting today, the state Board of Natural Resources authorized the purchase of 834 acres of working forestland in Wahkiakum County from a private seller for $2.19 million.

DNR will manage the acquired parcels, located near the town of Skamokawa, to support quality stream and forest habitat for fish and wildlife, while producing sustainable long-term income to the Common School Trust, which funds public school construction statewide.

Continue reading WA Natural Resources Board OKs purchase of Wahkiakum forestland for Common School Trust

Washington’s minimum wage increases to $9.32 per hour

Tumwater – Washington’s minimum wage will increase to $9.32 per hour beginning today, as announced in September by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

The 13-cent-per-hour increase, from $9.19 to $9.32 an hour, reflects a 1.455 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index between September 2012 and August 2013 for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI‑W).

L&I uses this annual change in the federal CPI to calculate the state’s minimum wage each year, as required by Initiative 688, approved by Washington voters in 1998.

The CPI-W measures average price changes for goods and services purchased by urban wage earners and clerical workers. The goods and services it monitors include basic living costs such as food, clothing, shelter, fuels and services such as doctor visits.

Washington is one of 10 states that adjust the minimum wage based on inflation and the CPI. The others are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon and Vermont.

Washington has the highest minimum wage, followed by Oregon, where the minimum wage will rise on Jan. 1 by 15 cents, to $9.10 per hour.

Washington’s minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs, although 14‑ and 15-year-olds may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $7.92 per hour in 2014.

More information on Washington’s minimum wage is available at Wages.Lni.wa.gov. Employers and workers also may call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.

California Firm Recalls Grilled Chicken Salad Products Due To Possible E. Coli O157:H7 Contamination

The products were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, 2013 and shipped to distributions centers intended for retail sale in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

FSIS began monitoring a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on Oct. 29, 2013 then was notified by FDA on Nov. 6, 2013 that California authorities had reported case-patients consuming pre-packaged salads with grilled chicken. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, the California Department of Public Health, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Arizona Department of Health Services, FSIS has determined that there is a link between the grilled chicken salads and the illness cluster. Twenty-six case-patients have been identified in three states with indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 PFGE (genetic fingerprint) patterns with illness onset dates ranging from Sept 29, 2013 to Oct. 26, 2013. Based on epidemiological information, 15 case-patients reported consumption of ready-to-eat pre-packaged salads prior to illness onset. A traceback investigation determined Glass Onion Catering was the supplier of the products implicated in the outbreak.  

While uncommon to find E. coli O157:H7 in a poultry product, FSIS will continue its investigation in conjunction with the FDA to identify the source of the contamination. FSIS continues to work with the CDC, FDA and state public health partners on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

 E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.
 
 FSIS and the company are concerned that some products may be in a consumer’s refrigerators. Because this is a ready-to-eat product, FSIS advises all consumers to destroy the product.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Tom Atherstone, company president, at (510) 236-8905.
 
Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

Three more Haagan stores closing, Aberdeen Top Food & Drug not among them

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Haggen grocery chain is closing three more stores in Washington, but the Aberdeen location will remain open. The Bellingham company announced this week that they are closing” TOP Food & Drug” stores in Kent, Auburn and Yakima.
Earlier this year Haggen announced plans to close stores in Tacoma, Lacey, Federal Way, Bellevue and Shoreline. The company says the closures are part of a long-term plan to improve competitiveness. They currently operate more than 20 stores in Washington and Oregon under the Haggen Northwest Fresh and TOP Food & Drug names.