Jessica Robinson

Inland Northwest Correspondent

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to racial tolerance in small towns, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping communities east of the Cascades.

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network team, Jessica was the news director of Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon, where she produced a newsmagazine on Northern California and Southern Oregon. In 2010, she took a year to study Spanish in central Mexico and reported for an English–language newspaper in San Miguel de Allende. Jessica's stories for radio and print have earned awards from the Associated Press, the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, and Public Radio News Directors Inc.

A Northwest native, Jessica grew up in an off–the–grid log cabin in the Columbia River Gorge. These days, when she's not agonizing over the perfect piece of tape, Jessica enjoys camping and hiking, amateur photography, and learning the etymology of words.

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Wenatchee School Swimming Requirement
5:51 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

School Brings Back Swim Requirement After Pool Tragedy

Devon Christopher Adams Flickr

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 7:32 am

A tragedy in Wenatchee, Wash., is prompting educators there to bring back a high school aquatics program. Starting this fall, high school freshmen in the central Washington city will have to demonstrate they know how to swim.

Formal swimming lessons in Wenatchee had gone by the wayside, as is frequently the case lately in public schools. But the Wenatchee school board is now reversing course.

In November 2011, a freshman named Antonio Reyes drowned in the high school swimming pool.

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Search For Ricin-Letter Suspect
4:09 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Authorities Search For Person Who Sent Ricin-Laced Letters

Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 3:40 pm

The FBI is trying to find the person who sent two threatening letters containing deadly ricin in Spokane. One of the letters was addressed to a federal judge.

It's back to work-as-usual at Spokane’s historic Post Office after the two letters made it into the mailstream here. Police say the discovery prompted an evacuation. Authorities don't believe any workers were exposed to the highly toxic substance, but they are remaining tight-lipped about the case.

Representatives from the FBI and local police declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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Terrorism Suspect
5:25 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Boise Man Arrested On Terrorism Charges

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 5:22 pm

Federal agents arrested a man in Idaho Thursday suspected of conspiring to support a terrorist organization in Central Asia. Thirty-year-old Fazliddin Kurbanov is from Uzbekistan and lives in Boise.

Two federal grand juries – one in Idaho and one in Utah – handed down a total of four terrorism-related charges against Kurbanov. Federal authorities say he attempted to help the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan with money and computer software between August 2012 and May 2013. The U.S. government designates that group as a foreign terrorist organization.

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Employment Workers
5:58 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Federal Sequester Turns Employment Workers Into Job Seekers

Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 5:20 pm

In the next couple of months, many employment office workers in the Northwest will join the unemployed. State labor agencies are having to make cutbacks in staffing. It's due to a combination of the economy getting better and federal budget cuts known as the “sequester” setting in.

Staffing at the local employment office usually moves in the exact opposite direction as the rest of the economy. When times are tough, unemployment rolls are booming.

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Minimum Wage Workers
7:10 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Why Won't This McDonalds Move 20 Feet Into Lower-Wage Idaho?

Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 5:00 pm

The border between the states of Washington and Idaho is like a petri dish for what the minimum wage does to the economy. That’s where two extremes meet. Idaho has the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. While Washington’s? It’s nearly $2 more -- the highest in the nation.

You might expect that wage gap to send Washington border businesses fleeing over to Idaho. But that's not what's happening.

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Gay Rights In Idaho
5:34 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Gay Rights Efforts Gain Traction In Idaho Small Towns

Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 5:32 pm

Efforts to pass more local gay rights laws are moving ahead in Idaho. A city councilor in Coeur d'Alene plans to introduce an ordinance later this month. And in Pocatello, a failed ban on discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people is getting a second chance.

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Hydropower in Congress
8:48 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Hydropower Bills Open Gates Of Bipartisanship In Congress

The 7.5-megawatt Youngs Creek hydroelectric dam near Sultan
Credit Snohomish County PUD

An effort to streamline the regulatory process for small hydropower dams is generating a rare moment of bipartisanship in Congress. Two bills sailed through a Senate committee Wednesday. They've already passed the House. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has more.

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Genetically Modified Potatoes
5:14 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

Idaho Company Seeks To Introduce Genetically Engineered Potato

Simplot Plant Sciences

Originally published on Fri May 3, 2013 5:11 pm

One of the country's leading suppliers of french fries is asking the federal government to approve genetically modified potatoes. The USDA announced the move Friday by the J.R. Simplot Company of Idaho. It would be the only genetically engineered potato on the market.

Simplot has branded them Innate potatoes. The company figured out how to use existing potato DNA to design a spud that’s less prone to dark spots. It also produces less acrylamide when cooked. Acrylamide is a neurotoxin found in many foods. Studies on animals have indicated it may also cause cancer.

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Idaho Silver Mining
7:21 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Idaho Silver Feels The Slip In Metals Prices

Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 5:34 pm

The decreasing price of gold has gotten a lot of attention among investors in recent weeks. The price of silver has received fewer headlines, but it's also dropped. That price has real economic impact in north Idaho, which has one of the richest silver deposits in the country.

There's not much wiggle room when silver drops down to $22 an ounce. That's only a little more than it costs the Galena Mine near Kellogg, Idaho, to get the silver out of the ground. Owner U.S. Silver has placed a hiring freeze on the mine and plans to cut costs by $1 million this year.

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Searching For Bigfoot
6:01 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Northwest Professor Turns To Drones In Quest For Sasquatch

Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 5:53 pm

A Northwest anthropologist has risked his career in pursuit of what the rest of science considers a myth. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University is the nation’s lone academic trying to make the scientific case for Bigfoot. It’s no joke. Now he's even raising money to launch an unmanned aircraft that would scan the Northwest's forests for the large, hairy creature.

Meldrum gets frustrated when he walks into Barnes and Noble. It's one of the stores that carries his book.

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