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.


Government And Politics
4:53 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

National GOP Group Drops $500K Into Idaho Governor's Race

TV cameras focus on Idaho Governor Butch Otter (top left) and Democrat A.J. Balukoff (top right) at the gubernatorial debate in Coeur d'Alene on October 3.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

New campaign finance reports showed a national Republican group has spent more than $500,000 trying to re-elect Gov. Butch Otter in Idaho.

Much of that money has gone to television ads. The spending suggests the Republican governor faces a tougher than expected challenge this year from his wealthy Democratic opponent.

Democrat A.J. Balukoff has been running as a centrist businessman focused on education who backed Mitt Romney for president. It's an image the Washington, D.C.-based Republican Governors Association seeks to shatter in its just unveiled political ad.

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Gay Marriage
8:22 am
Fri October 24, 2014

City Says Hitching Post Is Exempt From Gay Rights Law

The Hitching Post Chapel is located across the street from the court house.
Credit The Hitching Post Chapel

The city of Coeur d'Alene  says a for-profit wedding chapel owned by two ministers doesn't have to perform same-sex marriages. The city has been embroiled in controversy ever since the owners of the Hitching Post sued the city. They say a city anti-discrimination law threatened to force them to marry same-sex couples now that gay marriage is legal in Idaho.

The story lit up conservative and gay rights blogs. Wedding chapel owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp said they feared jail time or fines if they declined marriage services to a same-sex couple.

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Columbia River Treaty
5:21 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

B.C. Energy Minister Says U.S. Has A Good Deal In Columbia River Treaty

The Columbia River at Rowena, Oregon.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A little-known fact about Columbia River dams is that a valuable chunk of the power generated on the U.S. side goes to Canada under an international treaty. Northwest utilities say your power rates would be lower if that electricity could be sold to California instead of being delivered to Canada for free. This week in Spokane, the biggest players in the trans-national river basin are debating whether to extend that 50-year-old treaty.

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Same-Sex Weddings
6:38 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Idaho Wedding Chapel That Refuses To Marry Same-Sex Couples Sets Off Conservative Alarm Bells

The Hitching Post in Coeur d’Alene is refusing to perform same-sex marriages.
Credit Danielle / Flickr


Religious conservatives around the country are rallying to the defense of a wedding chapel in north Idaho whose owners don’t want to perform gay marriages. The mayor of Coeur d’Alene and governor of Idaho are being inundated by hundreds of calls and thousands of emails even though neither has taken any action against the wedding chapel.

The quaint Old West style wedding chapel called the Hitching Post is just across the street from the county courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.

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Hanford Waste
5:46 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

EPA Fines Hanford For Stagnating Radioactive Waste Near Columbia River

The EPA is is fining the Department of Energy up to $10,000 for each week it fails to move radioactive sludge at Hanford away from the Columbia River.
Credit Great Beyond / Flickr

One federal agency intends to fine another up to $10,000 a week if radioactive waste isn’t cleaned up right near the Columbia River. It’s all happening at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. 

So there’s this old reactor called the K-West at Hanford. And behind it is this huge concrete swimming-pool-like basin. It was built in the ‘50s and meant to last for 20 years.

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Same-Sex Marriage
4:37 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Idaho Gay Rights Supporters Hope Gay Marriage Marks New Direction

Gay rights supporter Janet Zaborski marked Idaho's first official day of legal gay marriage at the county recorder's office in Coeur d'Alene.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Same-sex couples across Idaho headed to county courthouses Wednesday. It was the first official day of legal gay marriage in the state since a court overturned Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage. Gay rights supporters hope the day marks a new direction for Idaho.

In Boise, there was a long line of couples at the Ada County courthouse among them, some of the plaintiffs who took the state to court for refusing to marry them.

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Idaho Same-Sex Marriage
5:12 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Three Effects Of Legalizing Gay Marriage In Idaho (Besides Gay Marriage)

Same-sex marriage is set to start Wednesday morning in Idaho.
Credit Philippa Willitts / flickr

The Idaho attorney general has asked his legal staff to start looking at what implications gay marriage will have for the state. Same-sex marriage is set to start Wednesday morning in Idaho under an order from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The county clerk’s office isn’t the only place where the ruling is expected to take effect.  

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Idaho Gay Marriage
5:23 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Gay Marriage In Idaho Cleared To Start Wednesday Morning

Tabitha Simmons (left) and Katherine Sprague received a marriage license in Latah County, Idaho, on Friday
Credit Laura Flowers

Same-sex couples in Idaho can start getting married and have those marriages legally recognized by the state starting Wednesday morning, according to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Idaho’s attorney general decided not to pursue further delay.

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Idaho Gubernatorial Debate
7:47 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Candidates For Idaho Governor Dis Washington’s Legal Pot

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Washington's law legalizing recreational marijuana made its way into Idaho's gubernatorial debate on Friday. Idaho has not legalized pot in any form, unlike most of its neighbors. The candidates were asked if they'd be willing to change that.

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Northwest News
8:37 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Founders Of Idaho Creation Museum Urge You To Think Critically

Stan Lutz, left, and Doug Bennett stand with a mastodon skull in the Vision Center, a smaller version of what they hope to build.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A group in the Boise area is in the midst of fundraising for a new attraction in the Northwest. It'll be called the Northwest Science Museum. They envision a 350,000-square-foot space full of fossils, rocks and animal specimens. But this isn't your usual natural history museum. It's designed by creationists.

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