Adroit Construction of Ashland has landed a contract to build AutoZone's new store on West Main Street in Medford.

Adroit Construction of Ashland has landed a contract to build AutoZone's new store on West Main Street in Medford.

Construction of the $750,000, 7,147-square-foot auto parts store is set to begin April 4 and is scheduled for completion in mid-June, according to Adroit Construction Business Manager Travis Christian.

The store is the first in Jackson County for Memphis-based AutoZone, the largest U.S. auto parts retail chain. Autozone has approximately 4,430 stores in the U.S.

Freight activity at the Medford airport continued its upward tick in February as 400,463 pounds of cargo were handled by the region's commercial operators.

Since last March, cargo numbers have trended up. In the first two months of this year, cargo weight was up 7.9 percent over 2010 figures at the Jackson County-operated airport. Outbound freight accounted for 50.6 percent of that activity.

The status quo remained unchanged for most of the region's banks in the latest report by Bauer Financial, a Florida firm that assesses the strength of financial institutions.

Evergreen Federal Savings and Loan of Grants Pass retained its five-star rating, the highest possible. People's Bank of Commerce of Medford, South Valley Bank and Trust of Klamath Falls and Umpqua Bank of Roseburg all kept their four-star ranking, as did Home Federal Bank of Nampa, Idaho, which took over Eugene-based Liberty Bank last year.

Medford-based PremierWest Bank remained a two-star entry, while Bank of the Cascades of Bend moved up to one star from zero, after it was able to secure additional financial backing.

Rogue Federal Credit Union of Medford and Southern Oregon Federal Credit Union of Grants Pass both retained their three-star ratings.

Verizon Wireless has added three new cell sites north, east and south of Medford, expanding its wireless coverage and capacity along Interstate 5 south of Medford, as well as North Foothill Road, Butte Falls Highway, and along highways 234 and 62.

The New York-based company has sunk $562 million into its Oregon network, including $60 million in 2010.

Lithia Honda of Medford has introduced a new program to give back to the community. Dubbed the "Love Bucket," the monthly give-away will grant $500 to a Southern Oregon nonprofit organization.

Wildlife Images of Merlin, the first recipient, will get a $500 check from general manager Brian Schwelling on Friday.

Nonprofit charities desiringto learn more about the program or receive an application should email customer relations manager Kathleen Price at kprice@lithia.com.

Southern Oregon Subaru will donate $25 to the Southern Oregon Humane Society for every test drive during its "Love A Pet Adoption Day" on Saturday, March 26.

A year ago, the event raised more than $500 for the Humane Society and 12 dogs were adopted. There also will be a drawing for a $100 gift certificate to Pet Country.

The event runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call Carol Penner at 541-488-6248.

Compiled from staff reports