January 31, 2009 in City
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Sally Dunn, right, and Melody Ross work in the assay lab at the Pend Oreille Mine in Metaline Falls, Wash. A downturn in the nation’s economy is reducing the need for materials, and they are losing their jobs when the mine closes. Says Dunn, 43, “I don’t do a lot of it, but I’m praying. I hope they reopen this place; I’m fearful they won’t. I guess I thought that we were in a bubble up here, that what was happening in the economy wouldn’t touch us.” Adds Ross, 32, “We’re going to have a ghost town. We lost the mill, the cement plant and now the mine.”

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Mark Brown, general manager at the Pend Oreille Mine in Metaline Falls, Wash., is preparing for the mine closure. “It’s a temporary shutdown. We have no intention of a long-term shutdown, but we want to be fair to our workers. We don’t want to create a misplaced sense of hope that the mine will reopen in two months or in a year, because we don’t know when it will reopen.”

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The Pend Oreille Mine in Metaline Falls, wash., is seeing its lasts days of production before it closes.

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Shawn Volquardsen checks the lead disc filter as he performs his duties, January 23, 2009 a the Pend Oreille Mine in Metaline Falls. He will lose his job after the mine closes. Volquardson, 33, is the control room operator for the Pend Oreille Mine’s milling operation.

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Shawn Volquardsen checks the zinc roughers as he performs his duties, January 23, 2009 at the Pend Oreille Mine in Metaline Falls. He will lose his job after the mine closes. He hopes to land another job at a nearby dam or return to school. “My wife’s whole family lives here, and my whole family lives here, so leaving the area is probably not going to be an option. I’ve survived hard times before,” says Volquardson, 33. Volquardson is the control room operator for the Pend Oreille Mine’s milling operation.

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Bubbles are created as the zinc is extracted in the zinc roughers at the Pend Oreille Mine, January 23, 2009 in Metaline Falls.

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The clock is ticking closer to the closure date for Pend Oreille Mine general manager Mark Brown, left, and mine engineer Josh Shutey. Both hope to to remain on after the mine is shutdown.

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Medals with the names of miners hang on the out board at the Pend Oreille Mine, January 23, 2009 in Metaline Falls, Wash. When the mine closes, most of the miners will be out of work.

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Sitting in the Cathy Cafe in Metaline Falls, Wash., Tara Leininger ponders the future of her city as she watches the world pass by along Fifth Street January 23, 2009. “Some of them are resilient because they’ve been here for 60 years,” Leininger, 51, said of local families. “They know that the downturn will not be pretty, and that not everyone will be able to stay.” Leininger is the mayor of Metaline Falls, the pastor of Metaline Falls Congregational United Church of Christ, and board president at the Cutter Theatre.

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“This town really needs to figure out what to do with itself,” said Roger Aydelott, 59, owner of the Clark Fork Theatre, a 300-seat movie theater in Metaline Falls. “The problem with this area is that there’s not enough people. I know there’s folks who would argue with me over that. They say it’s ‘so quaint’ and ‘so wonderful’ just like it is. They’re not trying to run a business…If I put every person in Metaline Falls in my theater, I’d still have seats leftover.”

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Shirley Botzheim of Sweet Creek Creations in Metaline Falls, Wash., rents part of her quilting store out to LadyBug Corner to sell liquor in the back of the store on Fifth Street. “It takes a certain kind of person to live up here,” she said. “I would never advise anyone to move here, because not everyone can handle it…You have to plan when to go to the grocery store, because its not open 24 hours.”

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Tara Leininger waves to a passing car from the middle of Fifth Street in downtown Metaline Falls, Wash., January 23, 2009. She is unsure of the future of the city with the impending closure of the Pend Oreille Mine. Leininger is the mayor of Metaline Falls, the pastor of Metaline Falls Congregational United Church of Christ, and board president at the Cutter Theatre.