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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Avista programs win AHANA awards

From staff and wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Avista Corp., Azar’s Food Service and nonprofit group Chapter of Links recently were honored by Spokane’s AHANA Business and Professional Association at the group’s recent awards dinner. AHANA promotes and supports minority- and women-owned businesses.

Avista Corp. received the award for corporate excellence and for promoting a culture of diversity and innovative management.

Azar’s Food Service received the small-business excellence award. The company provides workplace meals at Avista and at Triumph Group Inc.’s West Plains plant.

The Spokane Chapter of Links was honored as the area’s foremost nonprofit group. The chapter is composed of women who are committed to education, civic leadership and cultural awareness.

The AHANA board also created a Leadership Award and presented it to Ben Cabildo, the group’s executive director.

Cabildo said AHANA’s third annual meeting was a culmination of the energy and effort of many. “The business community, health care, and education, to name just a few, built AHANA, not Ben. It’s bigger than me. That’s the spirit of community development,” he said.

Job discrimination complaints up in 2004

Washington The federal agency that enforces laws against employment discrimination collected a record $420 million for aggrieved workers last year, when the number of complaints filed with the government was down slightly from the previous 12 months.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 79,432 discrimination complaints against private employers and state and local governments in the year ending Sept. 30. The figure was down from the 81,293 complaints in 2003, and below the seven-year high of 84,442 recorded in 2002.

Last year, the commission resolved 85,259 discrimination cases, down slightly from 2003, including some cases pending from previous years, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press.

The agency had its best year recovering monetary benefits for workers.

It collected more than $251 million by settling cases before trial, and $168 million through EEOC lawsuits filed in federal courts, for a total of $420 million. It was the largest sum ever collected in a single year, the agency said.

Several factors could explain the decline in filings over the past two years, said David Grinberg, a commission spokesman. Among them are employers becoming more sensitive to discrimination issues, more employers handling cases internally, increased outreach by the EEOC and an improving economy.

Hallmark site had too much holiday traffic

New York Hallmark’s Web site had trouble Monday keeping up with the demand from Valentine’s Day.

Hallmark Cards Inc. spokeswoman Rachel Bolton said the company had anticipated and prepared for at least double the normal traffic but got much more from visitors trying to send last-minute online greeting cards.

“We had planned for increased volume, but this was unexpected,” she said. “Hallmark is very distressed and very sorry that consumers were inconvenienced and disappointed.”

Cards requested before Monday were sent as planned, but recipients sometimes had trouble viewing the cards because of congestion at the site, she said.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based company’s site was operating normally by Monday evening.

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