December 8, 2009 in Business

In brief: Avista traders’ awards upheld

 

Two of Avista Co.’s former energy traders will receive $760,000 in severance payments.

The Washington state Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court’s ruling granting double severance payments to David Dickson and Christopher Stelzer, who lost their jobs in 2007 when Avista sold its energy-trading subsidiary to Coral Energy, a Royal Dutch Shell company.

Dickson will receive $400,000 in double severance payments. Stelzer will receive $360,000.

Both traders accepted jobs with Coral Energy, but the men sued Avista, saying company officials refused to pay the severance outlined in their contracts.

In court, Avista’s attorneys argued that the men had voluntarily resigned by accepting positions at Coral Energy.

Becky Kramer

Passenger count down at airport

October passenger boardings at Spokane International Airport fell 6.3 percent compared with a year earlier, continuing a downturn triggered by the soft economy.

The 126,338 boardings brought the total for 2009 to 2.6 million, off 13 percent from the first 10 months of 2008.

Freight tonnage increased 5.2 percent, to 4,434 tons, easing a decrease for the year so far to 12.2 percent.

At Felts Field, aviation operations declined 23 percent in October. So far in 2009, operations are off 3.3 percent.

Freight at Felts Field decreased to three tons, off 11.7 percent from 3.4 tons a year ago. The total for 2009 fell 19.4 percent.

Bert Caldwell

Kindle adding tools for blind

SEATTLE – Amazon.com Inc. will add two features to the Kindle e-book reader to make the gadget more accessible to blind and vision-impaired users.

Monday’s announcement comes a month after Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., and the University of Wisconsin-Madison said they would not consider widely deploying the device as an alternative to paper textbooks until Amazon makes it easier for blind students to use.

The Kindle has a read-aloud feature that could be a boon to blind students and those with other disabilities including dyslexia, but turning it on requires navigating through screens of text menus.

Amazon said Monday it is working on audible menus, which would let the Kindle speak menu options out loud. It’s also working on an extra-large font. Additions should reach the Kindle next summer, Amazon said.

Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, said Monday that the organization doesn’t know enough about the new features to say whether they address concerns. Associated Press


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