Northwest News

Northwest Public Radio is a participant and contributor in the Northwest News Network (N3), a collaboration of public radio stations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Our reporters bring a regional perspective to coverage of Northwest states' government, environment, economy, and other news of widespread interest to residents of the Northwest. Regional news on Northwest Public Radio is a part of Morning Edition every weekday morning, and All Things Considered in the afternoons.

Miners’ Prospects Reverse Of Economic Downturn

Jan 25, 2012
Wikimedia user: Plazak / Wikimedia Commons

SILVER VALLEY, Idaho - They say the days when you could go from high school to a high-paying, blue collar job are long gone. But there are places in the Northwest where those days still exist -- that is, if you’re willing to work a mile underground.

For gold and silver miners, it looks like boom times right now. Rising salaries, more job opportunities. Even a recent layoff in north Idaho doesn't look like other layoffs. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has this story on a job that's seeing the reverse side of the economic downturn.

Tom Banse / N3

PORTLAND - Quick, think of any famous female musicians in the American roots genre. Sure, today there's Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch. But for the most part, history remembers a lot of men in old-time country, blues and folk music... names like Lead Belly, Muddy Waters or Doc Watson.

Not a lot of women in American roots music are getting their due. That's according to a folklorist from near Seattle. She and her husband have made it their mission to change that. The Library of Congress has taken notice. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Iberdrola Renewables, one of the Northwest's biggest wind and solar power companies, let go about 50 workers out of a nationwide staff of more than 900. The cuts affect 25 workers based at its North American headquarters in Portland. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Energy company Iberdrola Renewables cited multiple factors for a decision to scale back on new projects. That led directly to layoffs in engineering, construction and development.

Silver Valley Slams Feds For Mine Shut Down

Jan 24, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

WALLACE, Idaho - Residents of Idaho's Silver Valley are outraged over a federal order that will put 250 local miners out of work for a year. They expressed their frustration to Idaho Governor Butch Otter Monday at a town hall meeting in Wallace. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has more.

The Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho is one of the deepest and most productive silver mines in the country. And in 2011, it had a string of accidents -– including two fatalities.

Wikimedia user: Tradnor / Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington lawmakers say they now have the last “yes” vote they need to pass same-sex marriage in the state.

Cheers from gay rights supporters filled the room as state Senator Ed Murray announced that news at a press conference Monday in Olympia. The 25th vote comes from Democratic State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen.

Opponents of gay marriage want to put the idea to a vote of the people. So even though the legislative votes are there, Murray says same-sex marriage is not a done deal yet in Washington.

Wikimedia user: TobinFricke / Wikimedia Commons

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy is starting work on a plan to build a 30-mile natural gas pipeline to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. The announcement Monday includes few details but the pipeline would likely go under the Columbia River.

Hanford’s waste treatment plant is going to need a lot of power. After all, its purpose is to mix radioactive sludge with glass material to form molten liquid. That brew, once cooled, would form huge glass logs for long-term storage.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The number of people who are out of work in Washington is falling. It’s a sign the economy is recovering – albeit slowly. But it’s only been in the last two months that the government sector has started hiring again. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins profiles one person who lost her state job, but found another one.

Keri-Anne Jetzer’s low point came last year when she lost her job as a researcher for Washington’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Rising flood waters have led to evacuations and road closures in the Willamette Valley. In the town of Turner, city officials have encouraged all residents to evacuate. Shelters are open in Salem for those displaced by flood waters. Salem residents Mark and Andi Bean were eyeing the rising waters. They were filling up sandbags at a city of Salem maintenance facility.

Gus Van Vliet / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

EUGENE, OREGON - Three environmental groups intend to take Oregon's Department of Forestry to court over the effect logging has on a threatened seabird.

The marbled murrelet spends much of its time over the ocean – but it nests in older forests. The Center for Biological Diversity, Audubon Society of Portland, and Cascadia Wildlands argue that logging plans for three state forests would harm the bird's nesting habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Supporters and opponents of gay marriage plan to descend on Washington’s capitol on Monday . That’s when House and Senate committees are scheduled to take public testimony on legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry. It now appears sponsors in the state Senate are just one vote shy of passage.

StoryCorps Northwest

In the United States there are an estimated 5.4 million people with Alzheimer's disease. Two thirds of those are women over the age of 65. Dorothee Lundgren was diagnosed with the disease at much younger age, she was 49. In this StoryCorps excerpt, her husband, Richard Lundgren talks with their son, David, about how the disease changed the marriage.

Hanford.gov / U.S. Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s tank farms in southeast Washington may have much more plutonium than earlier estimated. That’s according to a report by a Hanford contractor that’s just been leaked to public radio. As Anna King reports, At least one high-level Hanford official worries the findings could mean a massive waste treatment plant’s design might need to be altered.

SPOKANE, WA- The marchers at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity Parade seemed to forget about the frigid weather, and an attempted bomber at last year’s event. Spokane Public Radio’s Paige Browning attended the parade and reports.

Morrison: “I believe in the dream, and it lives”.

Marching for her sixth year in a row, Karen Morrison marched near the front of the parade, leading the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. At least 1,000 people marched this year, led by a Lewis and Clark High School marching band.

What happens if a timber harvest is a little more like a fire or windstorm that leaves patches of trees behind? And what happens if you don’t replant trees after logging? That’s what the Bureau of Land Management is proposing for a series of experimental timber sales in Southern Oregon. Amelia Templeton reports.

Climb into the hills east of Roseburg Oregon, and you’ll find patches of old growth forest—and a lot of old clear-cuts.

Year-end sales numbers are in and, in the corporate battle of the skies, Airbus has once again beaten Boeing.

The European jet maker said this morning that sales last year totaled 1,419 — or almost double the 805 sales Boeing posted last year.

A Tacoma snowshoer who had been missing in Mount Rainier National Park since Saturday was found alive yesterday. 66-year-old Yong Kim became separated from the group he was leading after sliding down a steep slope. The experienced snowshoer was well-equipped for a day’s outing, but had no overnight equipment. Despite temperatures in the teens and more than eight inches of new snow since Saturday, the rescue team reported Kim to be stable and alert when they found him. A park spokesperson said no hospitalization was necessary – and he has returned home.

A congressional rescue looks like it will put plans to repurpose the Umatilla Chemical Depot back on track. All the chemical weapons at the 20,000 acre Army post in northeast Oregon have been destroyed.

Neighbors to the base have been planning for the Umatilla Chemical Depot’s closure for 20 years under a formal Army process. But that plan was set aside by the Pentagon when the depot missed a deadline.

To get control back into the hands of locals, Northwest Congressional members have added language to a must-pass defense budget bill.

StoryCorps Northwest

Kerstin Ringdahl was born in Sweden in 1935. In her 30s she emigrated to the United States. She applied for a position as special collections archivist at Pacific Lutheran University, where she was a perfect fit. Her Scandinavian image helped a lot. Here she talks with her friend and colleague, Fran Lane Rasmus, about the early years of PLU and her job.

Eugene, Ore.- Representatives from the US Department of Agriculture will visit two Eugene, Oregon school districts next week. Bethel and 4J were chosen along with a dozen other districts across the nation as models for their farm to school programs.

Farm to School teaches students about local food. Megan Kemple is Farm to School Coordinator with the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition. She says many children don't know where their food comes from.

LA GRANDE, Ore. – In an age of hyper-partisan politics, alienating the party base can be political suicide for a lawmaker. Oregon Republicans predicted a voter backlash from a pair of budget-balancing tax hikes last year. But the first to feel the heat aren't Democratic state lawmakers. Instead, two eastern Oregon Republicans face challengers from within their own party after voting in favor of raising taxes. 

Oregon Republican Party Chair Bob Tiernan isn't known for mincing words.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Legislature has passed and sent to the governor a measure to increase the tax on phone bills. The extra money raised will go to pay for 911 system upgrades. The increase amounts to 25 cents per line per month split between the state and individual counties. During the Washington House debate, Republican Representative Ed Orcutt and Democrat Christopher Hurst disagreed over the wisdom of the tax hike. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. –Washington's Secretary of Corrections will make the case Wednesday for permanent changes to the interstate compact on parolees. This stems from the murders of four Lakewood police officers last November by Arkansas parolee Maurice Clemmons.

The Idaho legislature adjourned for the year last night. Lawmakers spent much of the final day on a last-minute attempt to ban texting while driving. But in a surprise, the bill failed.

Supporters of a texting ban thought they had a compromise that would satisfy members of the House and the Senate. Each chamber had easily approved a bill that would have set fines at 50-dollars for the first texting ticket and 100-dollars for each subsequent one.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Starting June 10th, police officers in Washington will be able to pull over drivers who've got a cell phone pressed to their ear. Same goes for people who text while behind the wheel. Governor Chris Gregoire [today] Friday signed legislation making it a primary offense.

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu named a blue ribbon panel Friday to find a final resting spot for the nation's nuclear waste and spent fuel. It has just two years to come up with an alternative to Nevada's Yucca Mountain. As Richland Correspondent Anna King reports, the commission's findings have big implications for how the Hanford Nuclear Reservation deals with its high-level radioactive sludge. 

WA Outlaws Cigarette Company

Jan 21, 2010

OLYMPIA,Wash. -- Wrangler cigars, Bronco cigarettes and other products by the firm General Tobacco, will be prohibited in Washington state beginning in February. The company owes the state millions in late payments.

In 1998, Washington signed on to a national tobacco settlement agreement. One of the outcomes: tobacco companies compensate states for money spent on patients with tobacco-related illnesses.

Washington state attorney, David Hankins says General Tobacco hasn't paid up since July of 2009.

Today in northeastern Washington, state attorneys will try a man accused of buying gall bladders that were taken from bears. Authorities say the organs are popular items on the black market. The practice of buying and selling bear parts is illegal in Washington, as Inland Northwest Correspondent Doug Nadvornick reports.

Pages