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Posts tagged: north idaho

Spokane HUD office to close this fall, cutting five positions

Spokane’s office of the Housing and Urban Development department (HUD) will close in September, eliminating five jobs here.

Federal officials are streamlining HUD as part of broad effort to provide services more efficiently. Spokane’s field office at the Thomas S. Foley Courthouse downtown is one of 16 being closed, the agency reported Wednesday.

Spokane’s HUD office serves Eastern Washington and North Idaho. The office reviews and monitors loan insurance programs for single family and multifamily housing projects. It also has one program manager reviewing insurance for health care facility loans.

HUD will still have a Seattle regional office in  Seattle, said HUD spokesman Lee Jones.

Spokane's five staff workers will be offered buyouts or the option to move to another location, Jones said.

Over the next three years, HUD said the restructuring could save $45 million to $50 million.

Lucky Friday Mine avoids federal safety violation notice, after improvements

Federal mine safety officials will not issue Hecla Mining Co. a violations pattern notice, the mine company announced today.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration had issued a potential pattern of violations notice for the Lucky Friday Mine in early 2012, following two fatal accidents at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan.

But after further review, and following more than $60 million spent on safety training and mine improvements, the MSHA said no final violation notice will be issued.

If the POV had been issued, the risk was that Hecla might have had to close the mine again, or make more focused safety efforts at the Lucky Friday.

The mine was closed for more than a year as Hecla managers made the investments and installed new equipment in the silver, zinc and lead mine.

“We are pleased that following the rehabilitation of the shaft, training and other work, MSHA has decided that the PPOV is not required. We have worked with MSHA, and are continuing to enhance many aspects of the mine’s operations and safety, including implementation of the National Mining Association’s CORESafety Program,” said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., Hecla’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

The Lucky Friday mine resumed operations last month.

Hecla reopens Lucky Friday mine after extensive safety steps

After being closed for more than a year, Hecla’s Lucky Friday silver mine has resumed protection, following a series of safety upgrades that cost more than $30 million.

The mine was closed on orders from federal mine inspectors following a rock burst that injured seven workers in December 2011.

The mile-deep silver mine in Mullan, Idaho, is expected to return to full production later this year. The company announced all employees were recalled and received supplemental safety training.

The rock burst injuries followed fatal accidents at the Lucky Friday that killed two miners in April and November of 2011.

Hecla officials also said the company completed a new bypass drift at the main shaft’s 5,900 foot level, around an area impacted by the December 2011 rock burst. Hecla reporting spending roughly $30 million on the rehabilitation of the main silver shaft and an additional $26.2 million on other Lucky Friday capital projects unrelated to the shaft renovation.

If you thought that would help Hecla's stock, that's not so.  As of 11:30 a.m. Pacific time, the stock dipped  9 cents or 1.5 percent

   

Area BBB lists the 10 area businesses with the most 2011 complaints

More than 3,100 consumer complaints came into the Better Business Bureau serving Spokane, Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Of those, we asked the BBB for the list of the 10 Eastern Washington and North Idaho companies with the most complaints  from Jan. 1-Dec. 1, 2011.

Here's the list, followed by the business's overall BBB rating. Companies that respond actively and promptly typically retain a high rating:

  • Global Fitness franchise, 110 W. Price, Spokane, 24 complaints, F rating.

  • 1880 Western Wear, Colville, 21 complaints, F rating.

  • Merchants Services Direct, Spokane Valley, 18 complaints, C rating.

  • Ambassador Programs, Inc., Spokane, 15 complaints, B+ rating.

  • Dave Smith Motors, Kellogg, 13 complaints, A+ rating.

  • WKA Innovations, Inc., Spokane Valley, 13 complaints, B+ rating.

  • AT&T Mobility, Spokane, 12 complaints, A- rating.

  • LLS America LLC, Spokane, 11 complaints, F rating.

  • CoiNuts, Coeur d’Alene, 10 complaints, F rating.

  • Time Warner Cable, Coeur d’Alene, 10 complaints. A rating

Ptera Wireless adding service to North Idaho broadband customers

Liberty Lake-based Ptera Wireless is expanding its wireless broadband service to Coeur d’Alene, Rathdrum and Post Falls.  Ptera also announced it's boosted speeds on all packages without increasing the cost of service.

It will now offer 4 megabits per second for $49.95 per month.

The company already provided service across most of Spokane County.

Company president Jim Wilson said Ptera has been growing by 30 percent per year. Its ability to reach more customers comes from having installed more than 150 transmitters around Spokane and North Idaho.

In a release, Wilson said: “In the past, our typical customer was the rural family without access to DSL or Cable Internet.  This is no longer the case, as most of our growth is in residential and business areas where we go head to head with both carrier types and still win the business.”

In addition to broadband Internet, Ptera offers Voice Over Internet telephone service, business connectivity and networking services.

To accommodate this growth, Ptera recently leased 3,000 square feet at the Meadowwood Technology Campus in Liberty Lake.

Monthly costs start at $24.95 for residential customers, and $59.95 for business customers for wireless Internet. 
  

IKEA moving into North Idaho? Not according to the firm’s spokesman

Yes, we finally got that Trader Joe's store, after years of hearing rumors the food chain was eyeing this region.

Similar rumors pop up about other retailers, such as Whole Foods or IKEA.

We heard a rumor about IKEA, the Scandinavian furniture firm, looking at setting up shop in North Idaho. We went calling and tracked down the firm's North American spokesman, Joseph Roth.

His answer: No. No such plans.

An email from Roth said: “There are no plans for an IKEA store in the Spokane, WA or Post Falls, ID area.

“With only 37 (going on 38) stores in the U.S., we typically require a population of approximately 2 million people within a certain trade area.”

Got any other rumors? Got any other ideas about Whole Foods moving to Spokane?

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on spokesman.com and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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