Local groups work together to craft summer arts series

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Music, dance performances and more planned for the season are being billed as an ongoing series in a new effort to promote art events throughout the summer.

The Walla Walla "Performing Arts Summer Series" is the creation of a group of performing arts organizations as well as Tourism Walla Walla and the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, according to an announcement.

The Performing Arts Summer Series kicked off with "Big Daddy's Barbeque" and continues throughout the season with promotions of "Midsummer Night's Music" July 13-15 from the Walla Walla Symphony; Walla Walla Summer Dance Festival from July 21 through 27; Shakespeare Walla Walla from Aug. 1 through 26; Jazz & Wine Among Friends, a three-day jazz festival Aug. 24-26; and Downtown Summer Sounds, the ongoing downtown concert series every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer.

The concept of an overarching series was born from a mutual desire among the participating organization to highlight the community as a cultural destination, according to the announcement. Participants hope to bring continuity and greater exposure to the arts events that run between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and create a sense of energy in the process.

The long-term goal is to build the series as a staple of summertime activity in the Walla Walla Valley and further enhance the entertainment experience for local residents and visitors.

The Performing Arts Committee is chaired by Andrew Holt of Tourism Walla Walla. Members have been meeting for much of the past year. Participating organizations were asked to provide $500 each for marketing purposes with a match from Tourism Walla Walla. Participants are: the Walla Walla Symphony, Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, Walla Walla Summer Dance Festival, Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, Power House Theatre, Shakespeare Walla Walla and Friends of Walla Walla.

The $6,000 of marketing funds are being used for radio spots in target markets. Tourism Walla Walla's marketing agency, DVA Advertising and Public Relations executed the purchases.

The matching funds from Tourism Walla Walla were used to develop a logo that will be used on marketing materials. The logo was created by graphic designer Matt McKern.

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When it comes to customer satisfaction, Banner Bank's earnings are among the highest in the Northwest.

According to an announcement this morning, the Walla Walla-based subsidiary of Banner Corp. received the highest ranking in retail banking customer satisfaction for the region in the J.D. Power and Associates' 2012 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study.

Banner earned an index score of 821, which is 85 points above the 736 average for banks in the Northwest Region that covers Washington and Oregon.

It received high satisfaction marks for its product offerings and account support services.

In a prepared statement Banner President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Grescovich said the recognition demonstrates the bank's commitment to its vision as "the best provider of financial services in the Northwest."

"Banner has always viewed our clients and our employees as our most valuable assets," he continued. "Our front line teams deliver responsive, proactive service with the sole purpose of exceeding our clients' needs. This honor bestowed on Banner Bank by J.D. Power and Associates shows that our dedication to providing exceptional service and products is recognized and appreciated."

J.D. Power and Associates has conducted the study of the retail banking industry for seven years, but this is the first year that Banner was eligible. The study measures customer satisfaction in six factors that define the retail banking customer's relationship with their financial institution.

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HAPO Community Credit Union will host a grand-opening Friday of its new branch.

The festivities will begin with a noon ribbon-cutting ceremony courtesy of the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce. A light lunch will be served.

HAPO recently opened its doors at 2376 Taumarson Road. The credit union also has branches throughout the Tri-Cities, Yakima, Sunnyside and Hermiston. Its corporate office is based in Richland.

The new branch serving the Walla Walla Valley is a full-service operation. Memberships to the state-chartered credit union are open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends schools in Washington or who lives or works in Umatilla County.

Branch hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday in the lobby and drive-through. For more information call 525-1286.

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

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