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Banner Bank buying AmericanWest branch

Tue., June 4, 2013

Spokane-based Banner Bank is buying AmericanWest Bank’s Liberty Lake branch, at 1221 N. Liberty Lake Road.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Banner operates a branch in Liberty Lake in the Safeway at 1233 N. Liberty Lake Road.

Banner spokeswoman Diane Larsen said she could not disclose whether Banner will move that operation to the new branch, citing restrictions imposed on the bank pending the completion of a sale. Banner is a publicly traded company.

The sale is expected to close in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Spokane-based AmericanWest announced it will buy eight Southern California branches operated by Pacific Trust Bank.

The deal would transfer about $477 million in assets to AmericanWest, a news release noted.

The deals are not related, company spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins said.

Avista seeks to raise efficiency surcharge

Avista’s Washington customers could see a small hike in their electric rates on Aug. 1 as a result of a proposed change in a surcharge that funds energy efficiency rebates.

Avista’s request is pending before state regulators. If approved, a typical household using 989 kilowatts of electricity per month would pay about 99 cents more on their monthly bill. That’s a 1.1 percent increase in electric rates, company officials said.

The surcharge change would not increase company earnings. Avista officials said the additional revenue would be used for a program to give rebates and incentives for electric customers to upgrade equipment and cut energy use.

Comcast to encrypt basic cable service

Starting July 30, all Spokane cable TV subscribers getting Comcast’s limited basic channels will need free equipment to unscramble the signals.

Many of the 8,000 Spokane subscribers getting the lower-priced tier of channels already have digital-converter boxes that unscramble signals, Comcast Spokane General Manager Ken Watts said. They acquired the equipment earlier this year as Comcast moved all those formerly analog channels to digital.

Starting July 30, Comcast will scramble those channels, which include local broadcast stations, government channels, education channels, some Spanish programming and the Hallmark Channel.

Current cable TV subscribers can get two adapters free of charge for two years. After that, customers will be charged “market pricing” for the devices. Limited-basic subscribers who sign up after Aug. 1 will pay a monthly fee for the converter.

Encryption also helps Comcast cut off cable pirates – customers who get video signals without paying for them – Watt said. He had no idea how many people are in that category.

Hecla Mining buys gold mine in Quebec

Hecla Mining Co. has purchased a gold mine in Quebec, Canada.

The underground Casa Berardi mine is expected to produce about 125,000 ounces of gold this year. In a merger-like deal, Hecla bought mine owner Aurizon Mines Ltd. for $514 million in Canadian currency and 57 million shares of Hecla stock.

The gold mine is in the midst of a shaft-deepening project, with future plans for open-pit development. Coeur d’Alene-based Hecla said the mine should produce gold for more than 10 years.


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