Business News: Week of Dec. 31, 2012


American River Bankshares (NASDAQ-GS: AMRB), which operated in Sonoma County as North Coast Bank before bringing that division under a unified brand in 2012, announced that the board of directors approved and authorized a new stock-repurchase program for 2013. The 2013 program authorizes the repurchase during 2013 of up to 10 percent of the outstanding shares of the company’s common stock, or approximately 932,800 shares based on the 9,327,920 shares outstanding as of Dec. 19. The company previously authorized a stock repurchase program in January 2012 after a three-year hiatus with a repurchase target of 5 percent and subsequently increased the target to 6 percent in June 2012.Education

Napa County Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom program recently won a $250,000 grant to implement an innovative farm-to-school project with 20 elementary schools in Napa Valley Unified School District over the next two and a half years. The funding comes from USDA’s Specialty Crop Block grant, with the major goals of improving student nutrition, providing local growers market access to the school district’s food service program and promoting ag literacy. Harvest of the Month will achieve these goals by providing each classroom with a tasting kit once a month that highlights a local farm and features healthy locally-grown fruits or vegetables. The tasting kit will include a lesson plan, enough produce for the tasting and a video profiling the farm and how the produce was grown. The videos will be produced by Cybermill, a local non-profit that fosters digital media skill development in youth. Additionally, Sodexo, NVUSD’s food vendor, has agreed to purchase the produce once a month and feature it in the school lunch program.Energy

Enphase Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENPH), announced a company community giving milestone with GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit that brings the benefits of solar technology to communities that would not otherwise have access. Since 2010, Enphase has worked with GRID Alternatives to bring solar power to low-income families in the San Francisco Bay Area through philanthropic employee workdays and donations of the Enphase Microinverter System. Today, Enphase employees are installing the company’s 12th solar array with GRID Alternatives on a home in Petaluma, Calif., bringing the total of volunteer time to over 1,500 hours.

Graton Community Sewer District has contracted with a San Leandro firm to install a cutting-edge wastewater disinfection system that will produce energy to power the town’s treatment plant, as well as meet or exceed state water quality standards. The innovative system uses pasteurization as a final stage of wastewater treatment to produce a clear, clean, pathogen-free effluent that is pure enough for irrigation of food crops. It is also expected to reduce the district’s expenses by generating electricity at half the cost of grid power and eliminating the costs associated with purchasing and storing chlorine, a toxic and hazardous greenhouse gas currently used to disinfect the wastewater. Developed by Pasteurization Technology Group, the disinfection system is the linchpin of an $8.5 million project to upgrade Graton’s wastewater treatment plant, which serves the town’s 1,700 residents. The project is expected to be completed in January 2014.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced that its employees and retirees have raised nearly $350,000 to support nonprofit organizations and schools throughout the North Bay and North Coast regions. Through the annual initiative, Campaign for the Community, PG&E donated $97,850 in Marin County, $14,810 in Napa County, $124,538 in Sonoma County, $31,321 in Solano County, $4,574 in Lake County and $14,386 in Mendocino County.Health Care

Orthopedic hand surgeons Kai-Uwe Mazur and Raymond Severt recently launched the Hand Center at Santa Rosa Orthopedics, a center that now offers state-of-the-art hand care. This new facility stands as the only hand center in California north of San Francisco staffed by board certified orthopedic hand surgeons who also carry Certification of Added Qualification in Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery (CAQ). Drs. Mazur and Severt can also refer Hand Center patients to Santa Rosa Orthopedics other orthopedic specialists for comprehensive treatment of the entire musculoskeletal system Wine

Winery Finder, the highly ranked social networking mobile app for Napa Valley and Sonoma County, has partnered with VinoVisit, the leader in real-time winery reservations, to provide visitors with a seamless way to explore wine country. Available on both the iPhone and Android, Winery Finder enables visitors to make online reservations with participating wineries. In addition, Winery Finder‘s powerful social media tools allow guests to check-in via Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare -- providing valuable social-viral brand exposure to wineries.

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