Home Loan Center 'going along ... just fine'

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Since the sudden closure of Walla Walla-based mortgage lender NetMore America two weeks ago, the phones at Home Loan Center have been ringing with calls from people all wondering whether that operation will be changing, too.

The answer: Sort of.

"It's affected us maybe for a week or two. I had to go find another bank to work with," said Home Loan Center branch Manager Tim Applebee. "But we're going along and everything is fine."

Home Loan Center had previously been described as a "division of NetMore America." The tag line is still listed on Home Loan Center's website.

However, Applebee said the two are no longer affiliated since the closure of NetMore.

"There has been lots of confusion about that," he said. "We've received lots of calls from past borrowers and other people and through Facebook."

Understandably so. The founder of NetMore America, Mark Freedle, had started Home Loan Center in 1997.

But Applebee purchased Freedle's part of that business in 2007 as Freedle worked on getting NetMore going. Applebee was also an investor in NetMore, which continued a relationship with Home Loan Center by purchasing that operation's loans and selling them on the market.

Applebee said several people in his office were among those surprised by the new direction for NetMore when the closure of its retail division was announced to employees March 2. Though employed by NetMore, they were based at the Home Loan Center where they processed loans.

Applebee said employees were told the business had sold. The Home Loan Center-based NetMore employees were in the midst of processing about 50 loans at that time.

They stayed on to complete the work. Applebee said he's now working with Sierra Pacific Mortgage Company on its loans.

The Whitehouse-Crawford is whipping up plans for its first ever Spaghetti and Meatballs Night.

The upscale restaurant at 55 W. Cherry St. continues its series of casual dinners with a menu next Tuesday of Caesar salad, pasta with marinara and meatballs, Parmesan cheese, house-baked bread, ice cream, gelato and sorbet, said chef and co-owner Jamie Guerin.

The come-as-you-are-event starts at 5 p.m. and includes full bar services and a few wine specials. Reservations are recommended.

Normally closed Tuesdays, the restaurant has opened at least one Tuesday a month since the beginning of the year for a more casual dining night in the dining room located in the restored 1905 planing mill.

To make a reservation or get more information, call 525-2222.

A new director of lodging at Wildhorse Resort & Casino will oversee the operation's hotel and RV park, as well as the opening of its new hotel, according to an announcement from the Mission, Ore., recreation destination.

Roy Jones has been named to the position after serving as director of hotel operations for Meskwaki Casino and Hotel in Tama, Iowa. There he oversaw all aspects of the hotel, RV, valet, convention center and spa for what is the only full-service casino in the Midwest.

Before that, Jones worked for several properties, including at Blue Water in Parker, Ariz., and Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc, Colo.

His experience in hotel management will play an important role at Wildhorse, said the resort's chief exeuctive officer, Gary George.

Last fall, Wildhorse broke ground on a $45 million expansion, including a new 10-story hotel that will house 202 rooms.

Jones will be involved in training staff, purchasing room amenities and implementing a new online reservation system.

The new hotel tower, which also includes 32 suites, is slated to open this September.

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

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