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Daily Memo

Sprint's Medford call center is up and running

Sprint Corp. has begun taking and making calls at its new Medford call center. The call center, which officially opened May 30, is in the former Ernst Home Center building in the South Gateway shopping center.

Sprint officials say roughly 100 people are working in the center and another 70 or so are in training or awaiting training.

The company plans to have 350 to 400 people — — the equivalent of 250 full-time positions — working there eventually.

The center is not open to walk-in customers; the building isn't even clearly marked. Workers either handle calls from Sprint customers or make calls to customers offering additional services.

Four local landscapers fined by state board

Four Rogue Valley contractors were fined $200-$2,000 by the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board, the board announced this week.

The largest fines, of $2,000 each, were levied against Dairl Landers of White City and John Richard Salo Jr., who owns John Salo Construction and Design in Trail. Landers was fined for operating as a landscape business while not licensed with the board. Salo was fined for contracting to build a rock retaining wall and install an irrigation system without being licensed by the board.

John Andrew Kakouris, of Johns Pruning Service in Medford, was fined $600 for operating a landscape business while not licensed with the board. Richard Stanfield of Pacific Crest Landscape in Talent was fined $200 for failing to provide a written contract.

State law requires all landscape contractors to be licensed with the LCB.

Bend named favorite place in Northwest to retire

Bend was named one of the five best places in the nation to retire by Money Magazine. Bend was chosen as the favorite Northwest place to retire in the magazine's July issue.

The central Oregon city's outdoor opportunities — from its golf course to skiing at Mount Bachelor — are praised by the magazine, which calls Bend the ultimate retirement destination for nature lovers.

Other favorite cities include Brunswick (Maine), Fort Collins (Colo.), Bradenton (Fla.) and Asheville (N.C.).

Plastics plant to merge with Tualatin company

TriQuest Precision Plastics will close its Vancouver, Wash., plant this summer to merge with Puget Plastics, a similar company based in Tualatin. Some of TriQuest's 200 Vancouver employees will be offered work in Oregon, but no decision has been made about how many.

TriQuest and Puget Plastics are injection molding companies, making plastic casings and parts for high-tech products such as printers and cellular phones. TriQuest's clients include Motorola and Nortel.

Ex-executive accuses N.Y. Life of racketeering

PHILADELPHIA — A former vice president of New York Life Insurance Co. filed a racketeering lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of tens of thousands of employees and agents whose pension and 401(k) plans were allegedly used as seed money for New York Life's mutual fund business.

James A. Mehling, 50, claims in the federal class-action suit that he was fired in March 1999 when New York Life executives feared he would blow the whistle on an ongoing fraudulent scheme of self-dealing and breach of trust.

From staff and wire reports