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

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.

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.

 

Josh Webb

Doing construction on Seattle’s seawall involves moving lots of water out of the way. Engineers with that project are using ice to solve the problem.

Crews replacing the seawall have to deal with water from Elliott Bay on the west side of the wall. And on the east side, facing downtown and Pioneer Square, water seeps up from the ground.

Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

Cheryl Shuman is a businesswoman from Los Angeles, a mom and a cancer survivor. She’s also been called the first marketer for marijuana.

“This is a plant that heals a multitude of illnesses. It provides a safer alternative to tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals. And the revenue from this plant has healing properties in that it can heal our economies and create jobs and create revenue for programs that are so desperately needed,” Shuman said.

Shuman is one of the organizers of CannaCon, the world’s largest marijuana trade show where Tommy Chong is a special guest. It’s taking place at Smith Cove convention Center at Seattle’s Pier 91 on Elliott Bay. Two floors of booths display the latest marijuana products used for recreation and cooking and medicinal purposes.

City Of Seattle

 

After almost 10 years of service, Seattle City Council Member Sally Clark says it’s time for her to start a new chapter.

Clark announced she will not seek reelection. Her decision follows similar announcements by council members Tom Rasmussen and Nick Licata.

The University of Washington

 

Why do women make up only 18 percent of the computer science majors at colleges and universities? And what can be done to increase their numbers?

These questions drove researchers at the University of Washington to look at how gender stereotypes prevent many young women from entering this male-dominated field. Over the course of two studies, researchers discovered some surprisingly simple solutions to bridging this gender gap.

Oran Viriyincy / Flickr

If all goes as planned, commuters in Seattle will likely see more buses on the roads starting in June. A transit service funding agreement between Seattle, King County and Metro Transit is being finalized and signed this week.

The agreement promises to commuters more frequent service on weekends and at nights, more actual buses in operation and more Metro bus drivers at work.

Ferran Jorda / Flickr

According to the Washington State Health Department, smoking kills more than 8,000 people in Washington State every year. To prevent the habit from spreading, lawmakers in Olympia are considering a bill that would raise the legal age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21.  

Iqbal Osman / Flickr

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran as part of our new show, “Sound Effect,” which airs on Saturdays at 10 a.m.

Before there was a birth control pill for women, there existed a pill for men. It showed a lot of promise — until whiskey ruined everything. 

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