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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hecla expects losses near $40 million

Hecla Mining Co. expects to close its books on 2008 with losses of $40 million to $42 million.

High smelter costs took a toll on the company’s fourth quarter results, according to Hecla officials, who attributed about $10 million of the loss to smelter costs. Silver, lead and zinc prices also dropped during the fourth quarter, while diesel and freight costs rose.

Company officials announced the expected loss in a news release late Tuesday. They haven’t yet scheduled a date to release Hecla’s full 2008 results.

In other news, Hecla will defer some upcoming loan payments to 2010 and 2011. The company still owes $161 million from its purchase of the Greens Creek Mine in Alaska. As part of the loan restructuring, Hecla will raise at least $50 million through a debt offering to repay a $40 million bridge loan, said Phil Baker, Hecla president and CEO.


Brown keynote speaker at downtown meeting

Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane and majority leader in the Washington Legislature, will be the keynote speaker Friday at the Downtown Spokane Partnership’s annual meeting at the Davenport Hotel.

The meeting from 3:30 to 5 p.m. will be followed by a Visual Arts Tour of local galleries.

Brown will discuss the ripple effects of downtown’s revitalization and how the private and public sectors might work together to continue the progress made.

Incoming Partnership Chairwoman Susan Horton will also speak, as will organization President Marty Dickinson, and Kevin Guthrie, outgoing chairman of the Business Improvement District.

Registration, which begins at 3 p.m., will be $30 at the door.

Contractors to pay $47,500 in restitution

A Spokane contractor and his two sons will pay $47,500 in restitution to resolve Washington state claims the three did not perform work they agreed to do, did shoddily, or overcharged for.

In two settlements filed Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court, Tom Powell and sons Neil and Jaymes also agreed not to misrepresent to consumers their services or qualifications, work schedules, materials used and payment terms.

They did not admit or deny allegations the various companies they owned or worked for failed to deliver promised services at prices negotiated with property owners.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office said 29 consumers in Spokane or North Idaho had complained about work done, or not done, by the Powells and their various businesses; Neil’s Construction and Remodeling LLC, CNJ Enterprises LLC, Everything in the Dirt Inc., and AR Concrete and Decorative Concrete Concepts.

If the Powells or their companies violate terms of the consent decrees, they will be subject to a potential $64,000 in additional penalties.


Companies cut 241,749 jobs in U.S. last month

Jobs disappeared at an accelerating pace in January as a dismal holiday shopping season brought more gloom to the United States’ battered retail sector, according to a report released Wednesday.

U.S. companies announced 241,749 layoffs last month, Chicago employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. reported. That was the highest one-month layoff total since January 2002 and 222 percent higher than the 75,000 job cuts announced in the first month of 2008, the firm said.

Although retailers topped the list with announcements of almost 54,000 job cuts, the report noted that the job losses are spreading through the economy.

“The variety of industries represented among the top five job-cutting sectors in January is further evidence of how far the impact of this recession has spread,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger Gray.

In Japan on Wednesday, electronics manufacturer Panasonic Corp. announced it was slashing about 15,000 jobs and shuttering 27 plants worldwide.

Becky Kramer Bert Caldwell Bert Caldwell Los Angeles Times
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