Anna King

Richland Correspondent

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.

The South Sound was her girlhood backyard and she knows its rocky beaches, mountain trails and cities well. She left the west side to attend Washington State University and spent an additional two years studying language and culture in Italy.

While not on the job, Anna enjoys trail running, clam digging, hiking and wine tasting with friends. She's most at peace on top a Northwest mountain with her husband Andy Plymale and their muddy Aussie-dog Poa.

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Tobin Fricke / Wikimedia

 

For the third time this week, there are calls to protect workers from hazardous vapors at Hanford, this time from Washington’s congressional delegation.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Three groups with ties to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation announced Thursday they intend to sue the federal government and its contractor.

They say Hanford leaders aren’t doing enough to protect workers from harmful radioactive tank vapors.

 

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation have been complaining of vapors from radioactive sludge for decades. They say the fumes give them sore throats, headaches and dizziness. 

Now Washington state says it intends to sue the U.S. Department of Energy in 90 days if more isn’t done to protect these workers.

You’ve probably noticed the arctic air mass from the North Pole, nuzzling in close here for an icy hug. What you might not have thought of are the cold apples in the Northwest and the people struggling to harvest the last of them.

Anna King

The Carlton Complex fires burned more than 255,000 acres in Washington’s Methow Valley past summer. There are thousands of fire-scrubbed hillsides and slopes that threaten to become torrents of mud running down in nearly every direction.

Some slopes burned so hot this summer that there’s little left alive. Even the seeds are gone. Now federal and state agencies are planting nearly 10,000 acres of native seed by plane on public land. The seed mixture and planes cost about $140 per acre sown.

Andrea Parrish - Geyer / Flickr

Washington apples will soon be packed aboard boats to China. The Chinese government approved market access to Northwest fruit Wednesday after a two-year market closure.

Courtesy of Marc Bouma

Northwest medical professionals are getting ready for Ebola. Some are volunteering to fly out and help patients in west Africa. Others are practicing and equipping their hospitals to receive a case if needed.

Marc Bouma, an E.R. nurse at Seattle's Swedish Hospital, is taking a leave of absence for Ebola. This Sunday, he’s flying to a remote county in southeast Liberia.

myriverguide.com / Flickr

Construction begins this week on a state project in the Methow Valley to give fish a boost of cold, clean water in rivers near Twisp, Washington. The state and a trout conservation group are pouring about $10 million into a whole new irrigation system there.

Anna King

In rural parts of the Northwest, many believe owning a gun is sort of like owning a garden trowel. You just have one or two around.

In November, Washington voters will decide on two gun-related initiatives. Initiative 594 aims to close loopholes on gun sales without background checks. The initiative is likely to pass, according to a recent poll. But in rural Washington, some people are skeptical the initiative will hit its intended target.

U.S. Department of Energy

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to fine the U.S. Department of Energy up to $10,000 per week if radioactive waste just a stone's throw from the Columbia River isn’t cleaned up.

Behind the old called the K-West reactor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is a huge concrete swimming pool-like basin. It was built in the 1950s and meant to last for 20 years. That’s where workers dumped hot irradiated rods until they cooled. Later, they were shuttled off to be further refined into plutonium for bombs.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

People of the Methow Valley and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation were hoping for more money to rebuild hundreds of lost homes and livelihoods.

But the federal government, for the second time, turned down the application by Washington state for more aid. This time, FEMA said the effects of the fire were not severe enough "to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance.”

Anna King

Fisheries experts say the return of chinook salmon to the Columbia River may not quite break records this fall as expected.

Last year’s run of nearly 1.3 million salmon was a record, but future years may not bring those kinds of numbers.

University of Idaho Digital Initiatives

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, U.S. government officials rounded up Japanese Americans and sent them to harsh, ill-equipped camps. Now, the National Park Service has announced $3 million in new grants to help preserve that important history.

Stacey Camp, an associate professor at the University of Idaho, is leading an effort to survey the Kooskia Internment site with help from federal Park Service grants.

Anna King

As autumn’s golden light bathes the Northwest, wineries across the region are harvesting, crushing grapes and making wine full bore. This year’s fruit looks petite and powerful.

Jim Holmes, owner of the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain in southeast Washington, is one of the godfathers of the state’s wine industry. He says this year's grapes don't show signs of disease, mold or bird damage. 

Anna King

Hunkered low on the front deck of a yurt are two twentysomethings. The hut is plopped in the middle of a winding mountain canyon in Washington’s Methow Valley near the town of Twisp.

Patty Cho and Sal Asaro are picking out a few tunes. They felt the urge to sing Creedence Clearwater’s “Bad Moon Rising.” Asaro tunes up his banjo, and Cho, cross-legged, starts singing softly in tune while picking her guitar.

“I see a bad moon a-risin’,” she sings. “I see trouble on the way, I see earthquakes and lightnin', I see bad times today.”

This is their new theme song.

Anna King

Kent Stokes can’t believe who survived the Carlton Complex wildfire. It was both his pet cat, and his arch nemesis: an early-morning chattering gray squirrel.

When 28-year-old Stokes returned to the ruins of his burnt-up shop and home, he was happy to find at least the cat.

“I heard him meowing through the brush or whatever was left,” Stokes said. “He came running out. He came through fine. Not a singe mark on him. The squirrel and the cat made it through all that fire.”

JJ Williams / Kiona Vineyards

Wine harvest is underway in a small growing region in southeast Washington called Red Mountain. The dusty wedge of earth has been attracting an increasing amount of investment from winemakers from Napa, Canada and even Italy.

In the late-1970s, Red Mountain was mostly sagebrush. A primitive road slashed through the desert. Today, there are only small islands of desert peeking out from a sea of green grape vines.

AP Photo/Washington State Department of Transportation

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a state of emergency proclamation for Okanogan County Thursday after severe rainstorms pounded the area earlier this month.

The rains last week ended in flash floods, mudslides and debris flows that blocked two state highways.

Texas A&M University Press

A skeleton some 9,000 years old is giving up a few of his secrets. A new book about the so-called Kennewick Man, whose remains were found 18 years ago, is due to hit bookstands in mid-September.

Kennewick Man was found resting in the shallow water of the Columbia River. His early story was that of some strife; a rock-point was found buried in his hip bone.

Anna King

Residents near the town of Twisp, Washington are digging out from mud that ripped through Finley Canyon last week. Because the record-breaking Carlton Complex wildfires have left soil and rock primed to run downhill, more damage could be on the way.

WSDOT

Heavy rains near Twisp, Washington have triggered flash floods and landslides on hills and ranches left charred by the Carlton Complex wildfire. Highways have been closed in Okanogan County and traffic has been rerouted.

David Junius

For more than 40 years, a radio station called the Evergreen Radio Reading Service has been broadcasting all day, every day across Washington state for the print-disabled — people who are visually-impaired or unable to hold or turn a page.

But the station is fading to quiet today.

Joe Barrentine / The News Tribune

Washington state’s new pot grow operations have state-required alarm systems, dozens of cameras and tall fences. But some growers said they aren’t worried about theft and violence.

Should they be?

Joe Barrentine / The News Tribune

In eastern Washington, a pair of very different guys teamed up to embark on an experiment to grow Washington’s latest agricultural crop, legal marijuana. 

One of them, Alan Schreiber, is a strait-laced farmer. The other, Tom Balotte, is not a farmer; he’s a video-gaming techie.

Balotte also doesn’t smoke weed, but he does like to build things.

Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune

Figuring out how to maximize yields on legal marijuana in Washington state will be tricky, and not every licensed farmer will survive the competition and the tight margins.

Take Susy Wilson’s farm near Dallesport in the Columbia Gorge. Her pot crew and support includes low-paid family and friends. And a few waist-high pot plants in her fenced-off compound look a bit sad.

Anna King

Firefighters are battling the lightning-sparked Snag Canyon Fire that has grown quite large just north of Ellensburg.

The blaze, which has burned nearly 2,000 acres, is challenging firefighters who are trying to secure lines closest to town.

Northwest Interagency Coordination Center

Kittitas County Commissioner Obie O’Brien said he fears about a dozen homes have been lost to a fast-growing wildfire in the foothills north of Ellensburg, Washington. Those losses have not been confirmed.

State Department of Natural Resources regional manager Todd Walker said hundreds of firefighters have been called in to corral the fire.

Joe Barrentine / The News Tribune

As legal pot growing operations spring to life from urban King County to remote corners of Washington state, an ongoing debate has developed within this new farming community: Should marijuana be grown indoors or out?

"First Cut," a collaborative series produced in partnership with the Tacoma News Tribune, tells the stories of the farmers behind Washington's marijuana crop.

Correspondent Anna King and Tacoma News Tribune’s Jordan Schrader talked to Austin Jenkins about their joint effort.

Anna King

Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers who are worried about getting sick turned out in droves for a public meeting Wednesday night in Richland organized by a Seattle-area watchdog called Hanford Challenge.

About 45 people squeezed into tight rows in a small conference room.

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