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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Colorful yard offers reprieve from winter’s bleak palette

This time of year, Spokane’s landscape usually has turned to shades of tan and brown. Most blooming plants have taken a hiatus with the recent heat and will come back around after it cools off. Not in Dixie and Allan LeTourneau’s yard, though. You could see the brilliant purple and pink Wave petunias a block away. Didn’t have to go hunting for that house number.

No new bids for Ridpath

The top two floors of the Ridpath Hotel again failed to attract a bidder in a national auction that closed Saturday, but a former Empire Ford dealership property on West Third may be changing hands, said Jon Jeffreys, one of the NAI Black associates handling the properties. The Ridpath floors and the adjacent former YWCA Building were first put up for auction this spring. Although there were no bidders, Jeffreys and fellow associate Mark McLees said at the time the level of interest justified a second go-round that would give potential buyers more time to inspect the property and arrange financing.

Old locomotive brings grandeur of rails to life

For the first half of the 20th century, Union Pacific locomotive No. 3206 pulled cars carrying passengers throughout the Inland Northwest. Today, it stands at the head of a seven-car museum train at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. During certain events at the fairgrounds, the museum train is open, and for $1 people can take a self-guided tour of the glory days of railroading.

Crashed FedEx plane operated by CdA company

LUBBOCK, Texas — Officials say a FedEx cargo plane landing at a Lubbock, Texas, airport veered off the runway, crashed and caught fire, but that both crew members walked away from the plane. The plane was operated by Coeur d'Alene, Idaho-based Empire Airways under contract with Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp.

Torch may have sparked blaze at warehouse

A cutting torch being used to rebuild a collapsed awning may have sparked the three-alarm fire Tuesday at a cold storage business that took 14 of the city’s 17 fire rigs to bring under control in east Spokane. It took three hours for firefighters to contain the midmorning blaze at Empire Cold Storage, 3857 E. Olive St.

Paper mill upgrade cuts costs, emissions

New equipment for converting wood chips into pulp will reduce natural gas consumption at the Inland Empire Paper Co. by as much as 75 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 33,000 tons annually, President Wayne Andresen said Monday. The $40 million investment will also allow the mill to slightly increase output, to about 570 tons per day, Andresen said.

Fire at Empire Cold Storage

A cutting torch being used to repair an awning sparked a three-alarm fire at Empire Cold Storage & Frosty Ice near the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. Fire officials were keeping a close eye on two anhydrous ammonia tanks that were threatened by the blaze. Three employees inside the building escaped unharmed, officials said.

Man dies after shop fire

A man who apparently lived for more than a decade in leased space at Empire Auto Body in northeast Spokane died there Wednesday in a fire caused by a woodstove. Neighboring business owners told fire officials the man they knew only as John lived in one of eight leased spaces in the building at 3122 E. Gordon Ave.

Fire at auto body shop kills one

A man has died in a shop fire this morning at Empire Auto Body, 3122 E. Gordon Ave., fire officials said. Reports of fire came in about 6:55 a.m. The man was found inside the shop among "a bunch of junk," said Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams.

Council endorses Empire sale

In other business Tuesday, the council heard a report about the proposed sale of nonprofit Empire Health Services, which operates Valley Hospital and Medical Center, to for-profit Community Health Systems Inc. Afterward, the council agreed unanimously to endorse the sale as a means of saving the Spokane Valley hospital. Munson said each council will sign a letter urging the state Department of Health to approve the sale.

Coalition questions bidder’s Empire plans

Community Health Systems' plan to purchase Empire Health Services leaves some questions unanswered and lacks a firm commitment from the buyer to the public's interest, according to a review of the proposed sale by a coalition of concerned citizens. The application lacks details about how the Tennessee-based for-profit corporation intends to improve finances at Empire Health's two Spokane-area hospitals, Deaconess and Valley Medical Center, said Amy Freeman, a public interest attorney and member of the legal team put together by the Protect Our Hospitals Coalition.

Auditor will examine Empire Health assets

Washington state officials have hired a large auditing firm to ensure the $156 million sale of Empire Health Services is fair. It's a move applauded by watchdog groups concerned that the purchase by for-profit hospital chain Community Health Systems Inc. includes sweetheart provisions that undervalue some of Empire's key assets.

Empire suitor criticizes delay

Community Health Systems criticized the state of Washington for taking "an inordinately long period of time" to scrutinize the takeover of Empire Health Services, contributing to the financial problems of the century-old Spokane hospital group. In remarks to financial analysts Wednesday morning, Community Health CEO Wayne Smith said he expects the cash losses at Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center to wane now that the hospitals have made a series of tough budget moves under an interim management team, including layoffs of certified nursing assistants and other employees.

Empire Health’s value erodes

Financial losses and troubled national credit markets have lowered the value of Empire Health Services and trimmed the $172 million that Community Health Systems Inc. is offering for Empire's two hospitals. Proceeds available for a new charitable foundation would be lowered to $84 million – down from the $100 million Empire's board estimated when originally striking the deal.

$100 million foundation hinges on hospitals’ sale

A possible new $100 million foundation focused on Spokane health care needs is spurring hope among charitable organizations accustomed to scratching for dollars to pay for programs ranging from wellness to child abuse prevention. The money would come from the sale of Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center, a blockbuster proposal being scrutinized by state regulators. The buyer is Community Health Systems Inc., the nation's largest for-profit hospital company with 130 medical centers in 28 states. If approved – perhaps by late summer or fall – the deal would reshape the health care business in Spokane.

Officials, business leaders urge hospital buyout

OLYMPIA – After a trip to Tennessee to meet the proposed buyers of Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center, several Spokane officials and business leaders Wednesday moved on to Olympia, urging state officials to approve the deal. Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, a private company, has proposed a buyout of Empire Health Services, including the two hospitals. CHS, one of the nation's largest hospital chains, has proposed paying $70 million to pay off the facilities' debt and another $100 million to set up a health foundation and investing another $100 million in the hospitals.

Sacred Heart makes heated proposal

The owners of Sacred Heart Medical Center have made a $25 million offer to buy out Empire Health Services' stake in Inland Northwest Health Services.