The Beverly's Fabric & Crafts store at 2819 F St. is soon expected to close after 40 years in business.

An associate at the 12-employee store said the closure was a "business decision" and declined to elaborate. She said no final date has been set.

Since its first store opened in 1968, the Aptos-based chain has run into stiff competition from retailers such as Texas-based Michaels and Hobby Lobby, based in Oklahoma.

Valley Republic Bank is expanding into Fresno, its Bakersfield-based holding company said as it disclosed a 15 percent drop in third-quarter earnings.

The new loan production office will be managed by regional President Jeff Pace, who for 17 years ran Fresno-based Central Valley Community Bank's real estate group. The move represents the bank's first expansion outside Kern County.

Valley Republic Bancorp said its net income during the three months that ended Sept. 30 fell to $2.007 million from $2.374 million a year earlier.

Its assets, meanwhile, rose 18 percent to $915.3 million and loans increased 22 percent to $581.2 million, the company said in a news release. Deposits were up 14 percent at $806.1 million.

"While third quarter new income is down slightly compared (with) the third quarter of last year, the bank has achieved a very solid 9 percent increase in year-to-date income compared (with) last year," Chairman Eugene Voiland said in the release.

"This (decline)," he added, "is due to the timing of the investment in infrastructure we are making to position the bank for continued significant growth and market expansion in the future."

The Automobile Club of Southern California, which has an office at 1500 Commercial Way, announced the creation of a program offering upfront tuition assistance to employees working to earn a degree at Brandman University.

AAA Accelerate will provide employee-students with financial help and scholarships so they can enroll in online classes offered by the Irvine-based university, the auto club said in a news release. It did not state what share of costs the company would bear but said classes would be available at "highly subsidized rates."

"The Auto Club has a longstanding tradition of supporting ongoing career development for employees," company President and CEO John Boyle said in the release.

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