Jennifer Wing

Special Projects Reporter

Jennifer Wing is an on-call reporter and news host for KPLU. She’s from Philadelphia, but has been living in the Northwest for well over a decade. Jennifer has had many memorable KPLU radio moments over the years, but one that sticks with her is being allowed to watch a young man struggle to learn how to read. Jennifer says, “He'd made it all the way through middle school and most of high school not knowing how. He finally fell into the hands of some adults who cared enough to give him the time and attention he needed.”

Ways To Connect

Dan Burgard

 

Sewage reveals a lot about our daily habits. With that in mind, the federal government is paying for a study to test sewage water in Washington State to determine how much marijuana people are consuming.

 

Dan Burgard, an associate chemistry professor at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, has been collecting waste water samples since December 2013, about eight months before the first legal pot stores opened.

Associate Press

 

When a man’s masculinity is threatened in a minor way it can lead him to tell blatant lies. This is the finding of a new study from researchers at the University of Washington and Stanford.

University of Washington

 

The findings in new study from the University of Washington show that intensive therapy for very young children with autism spectrum disorder appears to have lasting results. The study’s authors say this makes a strong case for targeted intervention where there is an early diagnosis.

The report will be published next month in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Associate Press

 

Backers of Seattle voter initiative I-122 want political candidates to start knocking on the doors of regular people to raise money instead of relying on big donors and special interest groups.

What Initiative 122 would do has never been tried before. Registered voters would get four vouchers, each worth $25. They would be able to give that money directly to their candidate or candidates of choice. The goal is to encourage candidates to spend more time meeting with voters.

“And the way to do that is to make the voters the donor class in the city by giving them all vouchers," said Sightline Institute's Alan Durning, who helped write the measure.

Adaom Dopps and Corey Webb

The Goldfish Tavern, a bar in Tacoma that first opened in 1933, and has been closed for the last few years, is getting a new life thanks to a unique type of loan. It combines the concepts of crowdfunding and an interest free bank loan.

 

Old gas tanks buried under the ground on the property, located near the entrance to Point Defiance Park, make it impossible for the owners to get a loan from a traditional financial institution.

 

“It’s ridiculously unbelievable. This was a community, icon landmark that was going to get demolished,” says Adam Dopps, one of the bar’s owners.

Alan Berner / Associate Press

 

A King County jury on Friday found Christopher Monfort guilty of aggravated first-degree murder for the 2009 shooting death of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton.

The jury of six men and six women now will move to the penalty phase of the case. After additional testimony set to begin on June 16, they will decide if Monfort should face the death penalty or life in prison.

 

The state currently has a moratorium on the death penalty.  Governor Jay Inslee has said no executions will happen in Washington State while he is in office.

Ted S. Warren / Associate Press

 

Alan Surratt is a bearded, balding man of average height with a large middle. On this warm spring day he’s showing me his studio apartment at 1811 Eastlake in Seattle.  He wears a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. He’s an alcoholic and he’s drunk. His life and career in academia began to unravel decades ago. Things got really bad when his third marriage ended.

U.S. Labor Department

 

The Seattle office charged with enforcing the $15 minimum wage law has hired Dylan Orr to be its new director. Before taking the job Orr was the first openly transgender person appointed by the Obama Administration, or any presidential administration.

 

For the past five years Orr has worked under two Labor Secretaries. He’s is a West Seattle native and University of Washington Law School graduate.

 

“Seattle is my home. It’s my heart,” says Orr.

Simen Svale Skogsrud / Flickr

After sharp criticism from advocates for the homeless, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, Seattle's plan to ban smoking in public parks has been softened to reflect concerns it would unfairly target the homeless and minorities.

Under the new proposal from the Seattle Parks Department, a violator will get a warning for lighting up instead of a $27 fine. Two or more warnings could lead to an arrest. Using e-cigarettes and vape pens would still be allowed.

Jen Owen / E-NABLE

In the basement of a house in Burien, 20-year old Peregrine Hawthorn shows me his three hands dangling from a chord. He loves them. He assembled them himself. They look like robot hands.

The components of each hand were made by a 3-D printer for about $50 dollars with the help of an organization called E-NABLE. This is much cheaper than a high tech prosthetic hand which can cost more than $100,000.

He calls one of the hands that dangles from the line the "Cyborg Beast."

Frank Franklin II / Associate Press

 

The City of Seattle is preparing to recommend a smoking ban for its parks. If approved by the Superintendent of Parks, smokers must cease lighting up in the city's more than 400 parks and open spaces by the end of June.

Seattle would join a growing list of other cities that don’t allow smoking in parks, including Portland, San Francisco and New York. But not everyone agrees the ban is needed.

 

in a letter to the city, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State argued that the proposal is both redundant and disproportionately affects the poor and homeless. The current law that restricts smoking within 25 feet of another person is sufficient, said Doug Honig, a spokesman for the ACLU.

 

Moreover, he said, the smoking ban would punish the homeless.

Courtesy of The Burke Museum

 

When Candice Pearson was a little girl back in the 1950s she visited her uncle in Bellingham who was a farmer. As he was plowing the field, one of the rocks he cleared away was different. Even at age six, Pearson knew it was special.

“I knew I couldn’t carve a piece of rock like that so I saved it,” Pearson said.

 

The rock is a mortar, which is normally accompanied by a pestle. Plants were ground in it. It’s small. You can cup it in two hands. To find out more Pearson took it to the University of Washington’s Burke Museum. Pearson showed the mortar to anthropologist Laura Phillips. It has a face carved on it with eyes.

 

King County Executive Dow Constantine says if we invest in young children we can prevent them from ending up in jail and, in turn, save tax dollars. This is why he wants voters to approve a six-year levy to fund an initiative called Best Starts For Kids.

 

Tim Samoff

One of the challenges faced by new parents is figuring out how much time they can afford to take off from work. Today the King County Council will vote on a measure that would give new parents who are county employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

UCI UC Irvine

 

Under the Affordable Care Act insurance plans are required to cover birth control. But a new study reveals women in Washington State are often told otherwise when they shop for health insurance.

Ted Warren / AP Images

 

Thousands of workers at the University of Washington who teach classes, grade papers and conduct scientific research are negotiating a new contract with the university.

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Moving to a new home is never easy. It takes time, it costs money and it usually involves a lot of people. All of these factors also apply to elephants.

Ted S. Warren / AP

For anyone who works in Seattle, earning minimum wage, this week, you get a raise. It’s a first step that will eventually lead to Seattle having one of the highest base wages in the country.

Low wage workers in Seattle will start earning at least $10-an-hour in cash compensation. Patricia Lally, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, which oversees the rollout of the new law, says thousands of post cards have been mailed to businesses explaining what they need to do.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

If you've ever lost a pet and were lucky enough to find it, you know the sharp pain of expecting the worst and then the huge wave of relief when you are reunited with animal. I experienced this roller coaster so many times I lost count.

These searches and reunions involved the same animal; a cat named Snowdrift.  This clever little cat was technically lost, a lot, and I’m not so certain he ever really wanted to be found, by me.

Washington State Department Of Transportation

The section of I-5 running through Tacoma is getting a major makeover. H-O-V lanes and new northbound lanes are being built to ease bottlenecks and congestion.

 

To make the highway wider, two overpass bridges connecting East Tacoma with downtown will be demolished and rebuilt. The Pacific Avenue Overpass will be torn down in about two weeks.

 

Over the next five years, Starbucks says it will be opening one new store every six hours around the world. This adds up to 8,000 new stores.The fastest growth is happening in China. The company also predicts India will soon be one of its top five markets.

Courtesy of Starbucks

 

Starbucks’ C.E.O., Howard Schultz, says it’s time for Americans to start talking about a subject that makes most people very uncomfortable: race. On Friday, there will be an eight page pull-out in USA Today, and in Starbucks’ company owned stores across the U.S.

minkcy chiu / Picasa

Should berry pickers be paid separately for rest breaks? This is a question before the Washington State Supreme Court tomorrow.

Farm workers are suing Sakuma Brothers Farms, based in Burlington. They say the 10 minutes of break time required every four hours under state law should be paid for outside the money they earn bringing in a harvest of berries.

Laborers who do this work are paid based on the volume they pick, not by the hour. It’s called “piece rate,” and it’s a common way to pay people in agriculture.

Jennifer Wing

 

The City of Seattle wants to turn a lot owned by a negligent property owner into a city park. The narrow stretch of land is at the corner of 65th and 14th Ave. NE in the Roosevelt neighborhood. It’s owned by Hugh and Martha Sisley. The home is gone and the lot is all grass.

The Sisleys owe the city 3.3 million dollars as the result of decades of housing code violations for their various rental properties. That bill would be reduced if the deed to the vacant lot is transferred to the city.

 

Seattle Police Department

 

One of Amazon's top executives is walking away from the corporate world to join the payroll at the Seattle Police Department. The agency is thrilled to have someone join its upper ranks  who does not come from law enforcement.

Greg Russell, an outgoing Vice President at Amazon's who oversaw the company's corporate applications, will be the Seattle Police Department’s new Chief Information Officer. Russell was one of more than 200 applicants for the newly created position.

 

 

A new media campaign in the Seattle metro area called Rise Above The Influence is being called the first major youth drug prevention media campaign since the passage of I-502 back 2012, legalizing recreational marijuana.

Billboards will appear in and around the city  bearing the slogan, “Most Youth Rise Above The Influence.” Young people are encouraged to participate in a contest by sending in a selfie showing how they lead a drug free life. Prizes include tickets to a Seahawks game.

 

Ted S. Warren / AP

People who own franchises in Seattle are suing the city, claiming it’s unfair they have to pay workers $15 per hour four years before other businesses have to do the same.  Oral arguments happen Tuesday in U.S. District Court.  

Under Seattle’s $15 wage law, franchise owners are lumped in with large businesses that have more than 500 employees. This is the case even if the franchise only has a few workers. If your business falls into this category, you have three years instead of seven to reach $15 for your base pay.

 

Kids read at a preschool program in Seattle
Seattle Office for Education

The universal preschool program Seattle voters said yes to last November is starting to take shape. As it works out the details, the City is getting a lot of advice from Boston. That city, which is home to world renowned universities, is also considered a national leader in early childhood education since it launched its preschool program in 2005.

Jason Sachs, the Director of Early Childhood Education with Boston Public Schools, gave a presentation to Seattle City Council’s education committee.  

KingCounty.gov

 

King County Metro is looking to hire a Comfort Coordinator. This person will be in charge of making sure bus drivers can go to the bathroom when they need to. It’s part of Metro’s response to a fine from the state last year.

Last November Metro was cited by the State Department of Labor and Industries for a lack of access to toilets and not giving drivers enough time for bathroom breaks. Some bus drivers say they’ve had to relieve themselves into coffee cups and trash bags.

 

Hannah Letinich / Forterra

 

More than 150 acres along the Puyallup River will be preserved forever as farmland and wildlife habitat. It's the biggest agriculture conservation deal in the history of Pierce County.

 

The farmland has been in the Matlock family since the mid-1940s. During the height of operation they grew more than one million pounds of berries a year and hired thousands of school children to help bring in the harvest and learn what a day’s work on a farm felt like.

 

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