Quick Takes

WORKSHOP: A community workshop on veterans’ benefits is planned at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the Carriage House Assisted Living facility, 3106 St. Charles Drive, Steubenville.

Participants can learn about veterans’ benefits; help for paying for a stay in an assisted living facility, even if a widow of a veteran; new laws restricting protection of assets; and steps to take to protect loved ones and asset protection language, according to organizers.

The event is sponsored by Jarvis Law Offices and Carriage House Assisted Living.

To reserve a seat for the workshop, call (740) 699-2193.

COLLUSION: Southwest Airlines will pay $15 million to settle class-action lawsuits that accuse the four biggest U.S. carriers of conspiring to boost prices by holding down the supply of tickets for sale.

Southwest denies breaking the law but says it settled to avoid the expense of more litigation.

American and United said Thursday they would continue to defend themselves against the lawsuits. Delta did not immediately comment.

Lawyers for consumers filed dozens of lawsuits against the airlines in mid-2015 after The Associated Press first reported that the Justice Department was investigating possible collusion.

Federal officials demanded documents from the airlines to see if they were colluding to limit capacity — the number of seats — to keep prices high. The Justice Department hasn’t taken any further action.

RATES SLIP: Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, making it slightly more affordable to borrow for a home.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 3.95 percent from 3.99 percent last week. The average has tumbled from 4.20 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.38 percent from 3.44 percent in the prior week. This same rate averaged 3.44 percent last year.

The interest charged on U.S. Treasury notes dropped from a week ago, causing mortgage rates to slip in response.

The average on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages slipped to 3.45 percent from 3.47 percent last week.

SPRINT CHANGES: Sprint named Michel Combes president and chief financial officer, months after it called off a merger with rival T-Mobile.

Combes replaces Tarek Robbiati, who will remain with the Overland Park, Kan., company to help with the transition until the end of the month. Combes most recently worked as CEO of telecom company Altice N.V. and is a longtime telecom industry executive. Combes will join the Sprint board later. In November, Sprint and T-Mobile said they couldn’t come to an agreement that would benefit customers and shareholders. The companies have been dancing around a potential merger for years, but most recently said they would call off negotiations for the foreseeable future.

CAFE CLOSES: A Panera Bread Co. restaurant in the St. Louis area where patrons have paid as much or little as they want for a meal for almost eight years is closing its doors.

Panera founder and executive chairman Ron Shaich told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the St. Louis Bread Co. Cares Community Cafe in Clayton, Mo., is closing Tuesday because it was on a month-to-month lease and the store would have required a big investment. St. Louis Bread Co. is part of St. Louis-based Panera, which operates more than 2,000 bakery-cafes.

“The nature of the economics did not make sense,” Shaich said.

The cafe opened in 2010 in an already-existing Panera-run restaurant block from the St. Louis County government buildings. The idea for the Clayton cafe was that people who could afford to pay the suggested price or more would do so, subsidizing those who could pay just a portion of the price or none at all.

From staff and AP reports

In the seven years since, “we served probably a half-million meals through this cafe, all at no set prices, as a gift to the community,” Shaich said in a phone interview with the Post-Dispatch. He said customers paid, on average, about 85 percent of the suggested price, proving, he said, “that people are fundamentally good.”

“We loved it, it worked well, it proved that the idea would work,” Shaich said.

The company opened similar cafes in Chicago; Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and Boston. Only the Boston location remains open.

Shaich stepped down as CEO of Panera on Jan. 1. Panera was acquired by the Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Co., which also owns Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee and other entities, in July.