Thrusday, January 07, 1999

TRISTATE BUSINESS SUMMARY


Baldwin to lay off 180 at Arkansas plant

        Baldwin Piano & Organ Co. will dismiss three-quarters of its 245 workers in Conway, Ark., in the next few months as part of a plan to cut costs and consolidate all piano assembly in one location in Trumann, Ark.

        The layoffs affect about 180 workers at Baldwin's Conway plant. The remaining 65 employees in Baldwin's high-gloss polyester finishing operation there are not affected, Baldwin Chief Financial Officer Duane Kimble said Wednesday.

        Mr. Kimble said Mason-based Baldwin hopes to lease the space left vacant in the Conway plant, though there are no tenants lined up. Baldwin owns the building. Mr. Kimble also said there are no firm plans to close the Conway facility.

        Baldwin has about 300 employees in Trumann, in northeast Arkansas near the Tennessee border, and will add about 85 jobs there as positions are eliminated in Conway.

Partnership to build communication towers
        A unit of Cinergy Corp. has joined with a partnership led by Texas billionaire Robert M. Bass and a new Cincinnati company in a joint venture to buy and build wireless communication towers in the Tristate.

        Financial terms of the joint venture, Lattice Communications LLC, were not disclosed, but initially, it will operate more than 90 towers with plans to double that number.

        “With the growth of personal communications services and other wireless communications, we believe Lattice Communications can provide a one-stop resource for communications providers in the Midwest,” said R. Dean Meiszer, president of Lattice Communications.

        Cinergy, whose Cinergy Communications unit develops fiber-optic networks, and its operating units now have 80 towers for its own microwave and radio network.

Blake leaving job at Enquirer
        George R. Blake, vice president/community affairs and former editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer, is leaving the newspaper, Enquirer publisher Harry M. Whipple said Wednesday.

        “Mr. Blake's position has been eliminated,” Mr. Whipple said. “He served the community and the paper well. I believe and hope he is going to stay in the community.”

        Mr. Blake, 53, who became editor of the newspaper in July 1980, was the only person to fill the executive position, created in December 1992 when former Enquirer Editor Lawrence K. Beaupre joined the paper.

        Mr. Blake, reached at his Anderson Township home, declined comment.

HUD announces higher mortgage limits
        Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo Wednesday announced that HUD has increased the Federal Housing Administration's mortgage limits to keep pace with rising home prices.

        In the Tristate, the loan limit jumped 18.2 percent to $140,125 from $118,550. This is the second increase since October.

        FHA insured more than 1 million home mortgages in 1998.

        The loan limits announced Wednesday range from $115,200 in communities where housing costs are relatively low to $208,800 in areas with higher costs.

        Before the October increases, the loan limits for FHA mortgage insurance ranged from $86,317 to $170,362. Those limits, HUD said, kept many families who needed FHA mortgage insurance from buying homes.

       



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