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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The Richland florist who refused to sell flowers for a same sex-couple’s wedding has filed a counter suit.

Arlene’s Flowers owner Barronnelle Stutzman says she "will not wilt." She argues there are plenty of other shops in the Tri-Cities that could cater to a gay or lesbian wedding. 

Photo courtesy of CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company.

Cleanup of a hazardous chemical in the groundwater at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is going faster than expected.

Hexavalent chromium is the nasty stuff that made Erin Brockovich famous down in California. The chemical was used to inhibit rust in coolant water in Hanford’s reactors. But that water was dumped into the desert, and now the carcinogen is making its way toward the Columbia River in large groundwater plumes.

Washington State Department of Transportation

Wildfire Awareness Week began Monday with record-breaking heat and crews working to contain two blazes that broke out over the weekend in Western Washington.

Anna King

Business is bustling at the Richland florist who faces a lawsuit over same-sex marriage. The florist says she was standing up for her Christian values when she refused to sell flowers for a gay couple’s wedding. Now, the case has become a focal point of intense debate on social media across the globe. 

On Arlene’s Flowers' Facebook page, right alongside advertisements for corsages and boutonnieres, there are hundreds of posts for and against same-sex marriage. 

Anna King

In the wine business, one good review can mean a lot of money. 

Now, one of the most prominent wine writers in the Northwest is getting into the wine business himself. And the news has agitated some in the industry.

Former Seattle Times columnist Paul Gregutt defends his winery in southeast Washington, but others see a conflict of interest.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Northwest farmers are beginning to harvest the first asparagus of the year this week in southeast Washington. That’s a tad earlier than usual. And after last year's farm-labor shortage, growers across the region are keeping an eye on how many asparagus workers show up for the harvest.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The U.S. Department of Energy says its wants to send 3 million gallons of radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to a storage site in New Mexico. That’s 3 million gallons out of a total of 56 million gallons of some of the most toxic stuff on earth.

But what is different about this waste in particular, and why some groups are against moving it to New Mexico?

Jason Strickling and his wife Lana of Pasco, Wash. are planning some extra time with the kids this summer. That’s because she works for a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor in southeast Washington and her employer is requiring her to take about five weeks of unpaid leave before September.

Every day, up to three gallons of radioactive waste at Hanford seeps into the desert sand from underground tanks, not far from the Columbia River.

That has prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to tour the remote site along with buses full of officials and media that roll through a sea of sagebrush.

Most American families have some kind of immigration lore. Think Ellis Island, the Oregon Trail and slave ships.

At dinner tables across the Northwest, some Mexican-American families tell their own vivid tales. They regale each other with stories of relatives swimming to better opportunities across the Rio Grande or crossing the desert at night.

Yes, these crossings are illegal, but they also are part of a family’s history. If the U.S. Congress adopts comprehensive immigration reform this year, these types of border stories could begin to fade.

Brittney Tatchell

For one thing, Kennewick Man – the 9,500-year-old remains found in the shallows of the Columbia River more than 16 years ago – was buff. We’re talking beefcake.

So says Doug Owsley, head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Owsley led the study of the ancient remains.

In western Michigan, there aren't enough apples to pick because bad weather decimated 85 to 90 percent of the crop. But Washington state has the opposite problem — there's an abundance of apples, but not enough pickers.

This should be the happiest, busiest time of year in Washington apple orchards. But now — just as the peak of apple harvest is coming on — Broetje Orchards manager Roger Bairstow is wincing.

Zane Brown/inciweb.org

High winds are challenging crews battling the Taylor Bridge fire in central Washington; and crews fighting the Trinity Ridge fire in Idaho are in a standoff with that fire, waiting for it to reach lower ground.

RICHLAND, Wash. – State regulators have fined a port-o-john operator in southeast Washington for illegally dumping raw sewage down a manhole at least five times. Some of the 50-thousand-dollars in fines will go to the city of Kennewick, which had to clean up waste that backed up into streets.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Waste in underground tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation may have much more plutonium than previously thought. That's according to a report by a Hanford contractor that's just been leaked to public radio. It's also according to the latest high profile whistleblower to raise serious concerns about a waste treatment plant being built at the Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation's tank farms in southeast Washington may have much more plutonium than earlier estimated. That's according to a report by a Hanford contractor that's just been leaked to public radio. At least one high-level Hanford official worries the findings could mean a massive waste treatment plant's design might need to be altered.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A Benton County Superior Court judge in southeast Washington has dismissed a Hanford whistleblower's case against a government contractor. That means that whistleblower, Walt Tamosaitis , will have to appeal if he wishes to keep fighting the Hanford contractor.

Police in eastern Washington are trying to figure out who has been intentionally torching haystacks near the tiny town of Mattawa.

Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones says in the last two weeks two fires burned three major haystacks to the ground. Jones says he doubts local kids have been setting the fires.

Now that a manhunt on Mt. Rainier is over, national park staff are focusing on the grief of losing one of their rangers. The man suspected of killing Margaret Anderson is 24-year-old Benjamin Colton Barnes. He was found dead Monday on the southwest slope of the mountain after a 24-hour manhunt. Lee Snook is with Mt. Rainier National Park. She says Rainier staff are relieved that the park is now secure.

Lee Snook: "Margaret was known by most everyone here at the park, and we all feel it quite personally and deeply."

A Washington State University researcher says new findings about the emotions of rats could lead to treatments for mental illness in humans. Jaak Panksepp writes in the latest issue of the journal, Science.

He was reacting to a new study showing that rats demonstrate empathy and altruism toward a fellow rat who was stuck in a trap.

A large biomass plant proposed for the Yakima area, is winning praise from supporters. But critics say this plant could pollute Eastern Washington’s air.

The 20 megawatt plant would start up in 2013 and use slash piles and other wood debris from the Yakama Indian Reservation as fuel.

Rajah Bose / Northwest News Network

Experts say mental health services for teens are especially inadequate in rural areas. That describes huge swaths of our region.

Idaho National Lab

The Idaho National Lab is monitoring 16 of its workers who were exposed to Plutonium 239. That isotope is used in nuclear weapons.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

KENNEWICK, Wash. – There’s a new lawsuit over safety issues at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The case announced Wednesday comes from the same whistleblower who has raised serious concerns about the waste treatment factory being built at the nuclear site in southeast Washington.

Workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot in northeast Oregon have incinerated the very last of the chemical mustard agent stored there.

Northwest News Network

HERMISTON, Ore. – It's almost done. For 70 years the Umatilla Chemical Depot has stored deadly weapons of one kind or another. That very real danger has always been in the background of the nearby northeast-Oregon community of Hermiston.

But the base also provided a home for families, jobs and stability for the region’s economy, some of which will be lost after the last truckload of mustard agent roared toward the incinerator on Thursday.

Andrea Parrish / Flickr

Across the Northwest, apple growers are having a hard time bringing in their harvest because of a worker shortage. The result may mean certain lower-priced varieties of apples don’t get picked at all.

It may have started in New York, but now the Occupy movement is reaching to cities around the world and even starting up in small Northwest towns.

"Spokane, Seattle, Auburn, Portland, Salem, Yakima..."

That's Jason Caryl of Pasco. And those are just a few of the places that have started up their own Occupy movements in the Northwest. Others you might not expect are: Occupy Seaside, Oregon and Occupy Idaho Falls.

The movement has been mostly organized on Facebook and Twitter. It has been criticized for being too loose, with no clear message or demands.

More than 1,000 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are getting layoff notices. This latest round of downsizing started this week due to reduced federal funding in 2012.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

GOLDENDALE, Wash. – This year’s Northwest fire season has been relatively calm. But that’s little solace to the small mountain town of Goldendale, Wash. Residents there are just starting to rebuild and cleanup after a wildfire obliterated about 20 structures earlier this month .

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