Public House 124 now open

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In case you missed it -- and judging from the line outside the place Thursday night, few people did -- new downtown gathering place Public House 124 has officially opened for business.

The Main Street business that's been months in the making opened its doors Thursday evening. By a little after 10 p.m., a line had formed outside to get into the full-service bar and eatery.

The business is described as offering a "social dining experience" in what was once the space occupied by Pete's Ski & Sport Shop. The transformed space, highlighted by the buildings brick walls and wood floors, include a bar, a lounge area with sofas and tables for groups.

The transformation and operation are led by property owner Jim Sanders, Matthew Price-Huntington and chefs Chris Teal and David Ponti.

Photos of the changeover are visible on the business's Facebook page. According to info there, hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday, 2 p.m.- midnight; and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight.

The Milton-Freewater Farmers Market will be planting itself at a new location starting next week.

The new market, which was introduced in the community in early June, will move to Orchard Park on Aug. 3 after operating temporarily at the Oregon First Community Credit Union.

Word of the move came from the Milton-Freewater Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Orchard Park is located at the bottom of Milton Hill. The new location has bathrooms, picnic tables and grassy areas for kids, according to the announcement.

The market operates Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. It will run through the first Wednesday in October. The schedule allows participants a mid-week slot for selling their produce on a market circuit that runs in Umatilla on Thursdays, Pendleton on Fridays, and Hermiston, Pasco and Walla Walla on the weekends. To learn more about Milton-Freewater's market, visit www.mffarmersmarket.com.

AmericanWest Bank has completed the acquisitions of two banks, the company announced today.

Previously announced purchases of Bank of the Northwest and Sunrise Bank have closed, bringing the total assets of Spokane-based AmericanWest to $2 billion and expanding the company's footprint to include Puget Sound and California.

The purchases were separate but closed simultaneously Thursday, officials said. New locations include Palm Desert, Point Loma, San Diego and Escondido, Calif., and Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue and Issaquah.

"This is an exciting time for our entire company as we welcome valued customers and talented employees to our organization," said Scott A. Kisting, AmericanWest's chairman and CEO, in a prepared statement. "We are pleased to offer our new customers access to increased lending capabilities, expanded products and services and additional benefits inherent in a well-capitalized bank."

No immediate changes are expected for customers of either bank. Accounts, hardware, online usernames and passwords, credit cards, debit cards, checks and banking locations are all expected to stay the same.

Former Sunrise Bank Chairman and CEO Scott R. Andrews and former Bank of the Northwest Chairman and CEO Tom Giovanelli are continuing in leadership roles with AmericanWest. Andrews will be regional manager for Southern California, and Giovanelli will be regional manager for Western Washington.

As a result of the acquisitions, AmericanWest Bank now has more than 600 employees and operates 66 branches in Idaho, California and Utah and Washington, including the Walla Walla Valley.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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