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

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. 

Courtesy of U.S. Deaprtment of Education

If you are in high school and you want to go to college, almost every school you apply to will require you to have taken at least two years of a foreign language.

A representative in Olympia says prospective college students should have the option to skip Spanish or Chinese and take two years of computer science instead.

Courtesy of the University of Washington

Ancient gas bubbles preserved in ice are helping scientists figure out what the Earth’s atmosphere was like 40,000 years ago, and how it might change in the future.

The data is coming from a core of ice that resembles a PVC pipe. When the drilling is completed, almost a mile of ice will have been extracted from this inland site in western Antarctica.

 

What if you were convicted of a crime 20 years ago and served your time in prison? Now, you are trying to make better choices. You go to school, you stay out of trouble and you decide you want to open your own hair salon. This will not be possible. 

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

On a Saturday at the Pacific Science Center, life-size robotic dinosaurs roar. A giant video monitor shows a person sneezing as a spray of mist shoots down from the ceiling. Nearby, naked mole rats scurry blindly through a maze of tunnels.

And since it's all mud and rain outside, the place is packed with curious children and adults trying to keep up with them.

Loud noises, bright lights, crowded spaces: This is exactly the situation Mike Hiner tries to avoid with his 20-year-old son Steven, who is autistic.

City Of Seattle

 

 

Longtime Seattle City Councilman, Tom Rasmussen, says he is not running for reelection. Rasmussen was first elected to Seattle City Council in 2003 when he defeated Margaret Pageler. His announcement not to run again comes on the heels of councilman Nick Licata,  saying he’s not seeking reelection either.

 

Rasmussen is the chair of the city coucil's transportation committee. He was an early supporter of building the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and was a critic of former mayor Mike McGinn.

Christopher Monfort sat in a wheelchair in King County Superior Court as Prosecutor John Castleton told jurors Monfort was on a mission to hunt down police.

“This attack, this ambush on Officer Sweeney and Officer Brenton, maybe it was just happenstance. Maybe he was just driving and saw them sitting there and took a shot. But ladies and gentleman, the evidence will show  that’s not the case. In fact, the defendant stalked Officer Brenton and Officer Sweeney,” Castleton said in his opening statement Tuesday.

Courtesy of Sol Bockelie

What if you could go to medical school and study with some of the most respected doctors in the world for free?

Such a program exists in Cuba.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

After a woman is raped, she undergoes a long, invasive process at a hospital where DNA is collected and a “rape kit” is put together.

Law enforcement agencies in Washington state estimate there are more than five thousand kits containing DNA taken from rape victims sitting on the shelf, never making it to a lab for further analysis. Kits often don’t go anywhere if the victim can identify the suspect. Other times, often in domestic violence cases, the victims won’t press charges.  

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

A man convicted in the murder of Seattle’s beloved "Tuba Man" will serve more than 18 years in prison for a separate murder at a Bellevue nightclub.

In a packed courtroom in downtown Seattle, 21-year-old Ja’Marie Jones was sentenced in the fatal shooting DeShawn Milliken, 30, at a bar in Bellevue on Christmas Eve 2012. Jones pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and apologized to Milliken’s family.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seismologists at the University of Washington are hoping for a few "beast quakes" this weekend from the Seahawks' 12th Man, who can sometimes cause small earthquakes by jumping up and down. 

The researchers hope to test out tools that might someday be a part of a system called Earthquake Early Warning.

PEO C3T / Flickr

Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord are being deployed to Iraq for the first time since 2011. About 110 men and women in the 51st Signal Battalion will head for Iraq later this month.

Jennifer Wing

At Peter Miller Books in Seattle, 'tis the season of tomato cans.

For the last 20 years, Miller has been giving away cans of quality tomatoes to his regular customers. What makes these tomatoes unique is Miller’s original poetry glued to the front.

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