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Business
Debra Leithauser hired at Idaho Power

BOISE — Idaho Power Company has hired Debra Leithauser as director of corporate communications and marketing.

“We are excited to have Debra join the Idaho Power team,” Darrel Anderson, president and CEO of IDACORP and Idaho Power, said in a statement. “She is a proven and transformative leader, active in community affairs, and dedicated to the quality of life in our great state.”

Leithauser joins Idaho Power following a successful career in the news industry, most recently serving as regional publisher for the McClatchy Company and president of the Idaho Statesman newspaper in Boise. Throughout her career, Leithauser has led news organizations across the United States from both the business and editorial perspectives.

“Like McClatchy, Idaho Power is a company that I respect and admire,” Leithauser said in a statement. “I’m excited for this wonderful opportunity to learn so much from another strong team while continuing to make a meaningful impact in our community.”

Leithauser officially joins Idaho Power on Dec. 29. She replaces Bill Shawver who retired from the company in October and co-founded a public relations firm — Atlas Communications. In her new role, Leithauser will be responsible for leading the regional utility’s communications, advertising, branding and marketing efforts.


Business
Zions Bank receives top rank for lending

BOISE — Zions Bank has been named the top provider of U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) Loans in the Boise district in 2017, marking 16 consecutive years as the district’s top lender.

The capital provided through Zions Bank’s loans to Idaho businesses allowed the bank to grow — hiring 295 new employees and maintaining 340 positions in 2017, according to SBA data.

Zions Bank approved 104 SBA 7(a) Loans in the Boise District, totaling more than $12.5 million and representing 19 percent of the 542 SBA-backed loans approved during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. In north Idaho, Zions Bank also approved 10 SBA 7(a) loans in the Seattle/Spokane district totaling more than $2.8 million.

Zions Bank continues to be a leader in marketing SBA loans to women- and minority-owned businesses, which accounted for 21 percent of the loans approved by Zions Bank in Idaho during fiscal year 2017.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. They create jobs and fuel growth that makes Idaho a vibrant place to live and work,” Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson said in a statement. “We are proud to be ranked as Idaho’s top SBA lender because we are committed to providing capital to entrepreneurs to help bring their innovations to fruition.”

The SBA’s 7(a) Loan Program offers up to 25-year, fully-amortized loans that may be used for most business purposes including the purchase of real estate for business operations, acquisition of equipment, and working capital. Credit approval is required; terms and conditions do apply.


Bill Gates joins the fight against Alzheimer's — and it's personal

Billionaire Bill Gates is personally investing $50 million to help fund research to find a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that Gates says has struck members of his own family.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, which destroys memory and other mental processes, and so Gates said he is investing his own money into the Dementia Discovery Fund, a private-public partnership to search for a solution.

“It’s a terrible disease that devastates both those who have it and their loved ones,” the philanthropist wrote Monday on his blog. “This is something I know a lot about, because men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer’s. “I know how awful it is to watch people you love struggle as the disease robs them of their mental capacity, and there is nothing you can do about it. It feels a lot like you’re experiencing a gradual death of the person that you knew. My family history isn’t the sole reason behind my interest in Alzheimer’s. But my personal experience has exposed me to how hopeless it feels when you or a loved one gets the disease.”

Gates noted that he, personally, is not without his own worries. “Anything where my mind would deteriorate, I have to say I would be disappointed thinking about complex problems,” he told CNN. “I hope I can live a long time without those limitations.”

Alzheimer’s, said to be the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, affects more than 5 million Americans—a number that is expected to spike to as high as 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Though medications and other therapies may ease the symptoms, they do not slow the progression.

“We don’t really have anything that stops Alzheimer’s, and so the growing burden is pretty unbelievable,” Gates said in an interview with CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been committed to global public health, including infectious diseases in developing countries, but as CNN reported, this is the first time Gates has focused on a solution for a noncommunicable disease.

In his blog post, titled “Why I’m Digging Deep Into Alzheimer’s,” the Microsoft co-founder said he became interested in the disease because of the emotional and economic toll it takes on victims, their families and also the health care systems.

“A person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia spends five times more every year out-of-pocket on health care than a senior without a neurodegenerative condition,” he wrote. “Unlike those with many chronic diseases, people with Alzheimer’s incur long-term care costs as well as direct medical expenses. If you get the disease in your 60s or 70s, you might require expensive care for decades.”

Through his investment, Gates said, he hopes to help make progress in better understanding the disease, detecting and diagnosing it sooner, and finding ways to keep it from progressing.

Gates wrote:

“There are many ways an Alzheimer’s drug might help prevent or slow down the disease. Most drug trials to date have targeted amyloid and tau, two proteins that cause plaques and tangles in the brain. I hope those approaches succeed, but we need to back scientists with different, less mainstream ideas in case they don’t. A more diverse drug pipeline increases our odds of discovering a breakthrough.”

He also wants to help make it easier to get people into clinical trials:

“The pace of innovation is partly determined by how quickly we can do clinical trials. Since we don’t yet have a good understanding of the disease or a reliable diagnostic, it’s difficult to find qualified people early enough in the disease’s progression willing to participate. It can sometimes take years to enroll enough patients. If we could develop a process to pre-qualify participants and create efficient registries, we could start new trials more quickly.”

Asked how long he believes it will take to develop an effective treatment, Gates told Reuters: “It’ll take probably 10 years before new theories are tried enough times to give them a high chance of success. So it’s very hard to hazard a guess.”

“I hope that in the next 10 years that we have some powerful drugs,” he added, “but it’s possible that won’t be achieved.”

Although he told CNN a “cure” for Alzheimer’s is “probably setting a high bar,” it should be the long-term goal. For now, he said, “we probably should say ‘treatment.’ Any type of treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today. So, yes, I believe there is a solution.”

The Alzheimer’s Association said Monday that it “applauds [Gates’s] efforts to seek an end to Alzheimer’s.”

“Gates has invested a great deal of time to better understand the full scope of the disease and how he can play a significant role in accelerating progress,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “The Alzheimer’s Association commends Bill Gates for digging in and joining the cause.”


COURTESY PHOTO  

D.L. Evans Bank honors local veterans with a U.S. flag every year. Jacob Montano, commercial loan officer, and Virgil Johnson, vice-president branch manager, recently passed over the flag from the Blue Lakes branch in Twin Falls.


Business
Kimberly Nurseries receives award

TWIN FALLS — Kimberly Nurseries received an award from the National Association of Landscape Professionals as a top member company with the most newly-certified staff.

Last week John Williams, Kimberly Nurseries general manager, attended the award ceremony in Louisville, Ky. The business congratulations its newest certified staff — Trenton McNew and Mike Kennedy — who completed their certifications last month.