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BIA extends proposed casino comment period

Two requests by area officials to address concerns about a proposed tribal casino in Airway Heights prompted the Bureau of Indian Affairs to extend the comment period another 30 days.

The original deadline came Monday for comments about the draft impact statement for the Spokane Tribe’s planned STEP project and casino.

Requests by Spokane County Commissioner Al French and officials with the Kalispel Tribe led the BIA to extend the deadline to May 16.

“We want to make sure we get everyone’s opinion,” BIA spokesman B.J. Howerton said.

A Kalispel Tribe spokeswoman said the request was made to ensure the tribe had time to review the entire 1,000-page draft environmental impact statement.

The Spokane Tribe is seeking approval from the Interior Department to build a casino on trust land. It argues the tribe needs to develop a casino and resort to add tribal jobs and boost the area’s economy.

Some opponents, including the Kalispels, say the Spokanes’ proposal should be rejected in part because of possible encroachment on Fairchild Air Force Base and because the tribe has two existing casinos on reservation land.

Following the comment period, the BIA will analyze comments and submit a final environmental impact statement on the proposal. Another 30-day public comment period will follow. After that the Interior Department will issue a decision, although no timeline has been set.

Pfizer may soon sell division to Nestle

NEW YORK – Pfizer Inc. is near a deal to sell its infant-nutrition business to the Swiss food conglomerate Nestle SA for $9 billion, according to a report Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.

Nestle appears to be beating out a joint bid from Groupe Danone and Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. The deal would be one of the largest this year and could be announced as early as next week, according to the Journal report, which cited sources familiar with the matter who were not named.

Nestle is one of the world’s largest sellers of infant formula and may face some antitrust hurdles to complete the deal. It would likely have to sell assets in certain markets to win regulatory approval, according to the report.

Factory output drops after 3 months of gains

WASHINGTON – U.S. factory production fell in March after companies made fewer electronic products, steel and other metals. But the decline followed three months of strong manufacturing gains.

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that factory production dropped 0.2 percent last month. Still, for the first three months of this year, manufacturing output rose at an annual rate of 10.4 percent. The gain was led by a nearly 40 percent increase in production of motor vehicles and parts.

Overall industrial production was flat in March – the second straight month of no gain. A big 1.5 percent jump in output at utilities was offset by the weakness in manufacturing.