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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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.

Anna King

Since the spring, many workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation have needed medical attention from exposure to chemical vapors. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Energy led a busload of journalists to points across the site to show off what they’re doing to keep workers safe.

Anna King

Eric Cooper has a sort of "The Dude" vibe: Hawaiian shirt, leather brown sandals and a bushy silver goatee. He smoked weed for the first time when he was about 14. He’s a former contractor and registered nurse. Cooper grew medical marijuana, and now he’s one of the owners of Monkey Grass Farms in Wenatchee, Washington.

Monkey Grass Farms is one of the big boys: a tier-3 Washington state-licensed indoor pot grow. That means they can nurture about 21,000-square-feet of marijuana plants.

Anna King

The Timberbowl Rodeo in the town of Darrington, Washington saw some of its largest crowds ever this past weekend. Neighbors gathered at the event to hug, shake hands and heal from the tragic Oso landslide.

Alexis Blakey knows nearly everyone in the small town that lies 74 miles northeast of Seattle. A native of nearby Oso, Washington, 20-year-old Blakey said the landslide that made her town infamous is branded on her brain. She was at these same rodeo grounds that day when she saw ambulance after ambulance headed for Oso.

“I don’t know," Blakey said. "We were all just like, 'What is going on? Is this really happening right now?'”

Tobin Fricke / Wikimedia

Washington state and the federal government just gave themselves a 40-day deadline to come up with a cleanup plan for leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

If you think you’ve heard that before, it’s because you have.

Anna King

Japan’s crippled nuclear plant is bleeding hazardous radioactive water at a mind-staggering rate. Officials at Fukushima Daiichi are filling 27-foot-tall tanks nearly every other day. Now, in southeast Washington, a company called Kurion is developing and building a mobile filter system to help deal with that troublesome radioactive wastewater.

Anna King

This week is the deadline for the state of Washington and the U.S. Department of Energy to reach an agreement on how to clean up radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The two sides can’t agree on a timelinel; it seems the state and the Energy Department have very different views of where things are.

Washington Incident Management Team #2/InciWeb

With conditions at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation tinder dry, workers were told Wednesday to practice fire safety at work and at home.

The news is about four weeks ahead of schedule for these types of fire weather alerts — a sign of a long, hot summer ahead.

AP Photo/ Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

This time of year, young Northwest cougars are getting kicked out of the nest by their mother cats. That means many of these young adults are looking for their own home range.

But these rookie hunters are in a cat-crowded field, and that sometimes ends in trouble.

Kim Keating / USGS

Bighorn sheep in the Northwest have their lambs in early spring. About now, those babies start playing together in the mountains — a sort of lamb daycare.

But that sweet, social behavior is spreading a deadly disease in several herds throughout the region.

Anna King

The Tri-Cities are growing faster than most other metro areas in the Northwest and the nation. From a high spot like Badger Mountain, it’s easy see how rapidly new neighborhoods are leveling off ridgelines and hacking into fruit orchards.

Nearly every week, development in the wide-open spaces of eastern Washington is celebrated with golden shovels and ribbon cuttings. But that’s beginning to change.

Now there’s a very public pinch point: a small track of wildland versus a planned city road.

Courtesy of Great Northwest Wine.

The Northwest is quickly becoming world famous for high-quality wine. So what are the region's wine experts splashing into their glasses over Memorial Day weekend?

Anna King

The dramatic drawdown of the water behind the damaged Wanapum Dam in eastern Washington means boaters are out of luck on that stretch of the Columbia River.

Those who own vacation homes upstream from Wanapum at Sunland Estates say they are getting creative for the long weekend.

Anna King

When you think organic, you probably visualize fresh, sweet-smelling fruits and vegetables. But what makes that delicious organic produce grow?

The answer is digested fish parts mixed with molasses, which smells so bad that it’s been known to make farm workers gag.

Governor's Office

Gov. Jay Inslee got an up-close view of the drilling machines at work on the damaged Wanapum Dam in central Washington Wednesday, just one day after officials announced the dam’s massive crack was caused by fundamental design errors and bad concrete pours in 1960.

EPA

With the weather warming up, work has resuming at one of the largest Superfund sites in the nation. The EPA is trying to clear decades of mine pollution from Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin and the upper reaches of the Spokane River. And this summer, managers are using an environmental remedy you might not expect: pavement.

Grant County PUD

A host of problems caused the massive crack in Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River, the Grant County Public Utility District said Tuesday.

Northwest sweet cherry growers say they'll likely pick 20 million boxes full — their third largest haul ever — this season. But there’s plenty that can happen to cherries before then, even on the day of harvest.

Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah grow about two-thirds of the nation’s sweet cherries. And this year, demand should be even higher for those candy-like fruit as a result of the dismal cherry growing weather in California. The continuing drought in that state and poor pollination has thinned out their crops. 

Tobin Fricke / Flickr

The clock is ticking on the 40-day, 40-night compromise deadline between Washington state and the federal government for cleaning up Hanford’s leaking radioactive waste tanks.

But at Hanford’s annual update for the public in Richland this week, it was clear that any agreement between the state and the federal government is still a ways off.

Anna King

We’ve all heard of the Western Gold Rush. But how about the Northwest cattle rush?

Farmers in our region are taking advantage of record prices worldwide for dairy and beef. And on the front lines of this Northwest herd expansion is your friendly artificial insemination technician. So when you douse milk on your morning cereal, think of guys like Dean Hibbs.

Hibbs has been on breakneck drive to breed more cattle and hasn’t had a day off in weeks. He says cows in heat wait for no man.

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

Farmers in eastern Washington who want to get into the marijuana business may face an immediate hurdle.

The U.S. government is currently deciding whether it will give growers access to federal water. The agricultural heart of the state depends on these irrigation systems. 

Grant County PUD

The cost fixing the cracked Wanapum Dam will total $61 million, according to Grant County PUD officials.

About one-third of the cost is the result of the investigation into the crack, the guarding of the river and the loss of power production. The rest will cover the fix itself.

Anna King

Hundreds of Chinook salmon are being rounded up and loaded into tanker trucks that will drive them around the cracked Wanapum Dam in southweast Washington.

The Columbia River will remain drawn down at least until June, which means fish can’t reach their traditional ladders. Engineers are working on extensions and water slides of sorts to get fish ladders working again. But work to install this new equipment has been difficult, with cranes, man baskets and the whipping wind.

 

Many Northwest alfalfa growers had a rough year with bad weather last summer. Rain can leach nutrients out of drying hay and rot away any profits. 

But this year, hay markets are primed if growers can duck the storm clouds. Drought in California and parts of the Midwest means hay buyers are focusing in on Northwest crops. 

The drawdown of water behind the cracked Wanapum Dam in central Washington is exposing dozens of human gravesites and hundreds of Native American cultural artifacts. Grant County officials are working overtime to protect these sensitive sites, but that work isn’t cheap.

Grant County utility district says it’s spending about $600,000 per month protecting 80 miles of Columbia River shore.

Central Washington University

Code language is probably as old as language itself. Now, two Northwest professors have launched a competition to test students’ code-breaking skills.

Called Kryptos, the competition is geared toward undergraduate students all around the Northwest. But the region’s high school students are also encouraged to try and break the codes.

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