Washington

The region's recent stretch of warm weather means Northwest sweet cherries will likely be going early to market this year.

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest Public Radio

For some schools, the most basic task is getting students through the door. One school district on the Yakama Nation Reservation learned the hard way that punishment wouldn't fix its attendance problem. Now, administrators are trying a friendlier strategy to get students to school.

Principal Joey Castilleja is manning White Swan High School’s newly christened Welcome Room, alternating between good-natured jokes and asking students why they’re coming late to school.

Freedom could be just weeks away for the youngest person in the U.S. sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

We’ve been reporting on students who are sent to juvenile detention for skipping school and other non-criminal behavior. Nationally, there’s a push to outlaw incarceration for these youth and use alternatives. But some judges are reluctant to give detention up.

On a recent morning, Judge David Edwards presides over Grays Harbor County truancy court.

“You have two F's, two incompletes because of missing work,” Edawrds said.

The first time a judge sent Marquise-Unique Travon Flynn to juvenile detention he was in fifth grade. He had one goal: not to cry in front of the other kids in the courtroom.

A new statistic from Washington state illustrates a problem 911 dispatch centers throughout the Northwest grapple with. About a third of 911 calls in Washington state are mistaken.

Democrats in the Washington state House have passed a $12 per hour minimum wage measure. The increase would phase-in over four years.

Skipping school is not a crime in Washington state, but it can still land a student behind bars.

The (Not So) Secret World Of Northwest Curling

Mar 3, 2015
Peter Miller / Flickr

Curling: it's that sport with the stones and the brooms. You might have seen it played at the Olympics. Canadians play it. For many Americans, that's the extent of our curling knowledge. So this video might help bring everyone up to speed:

So that's curling. It's a little bit hockey, a little bit bowling, a little bit shuffleboard.

Washington, Oregon and Idaho are trying to figure out how to keep their state driver’s licenses from becoming obsolete in the eyes of the federal government.

Paul Eggert / Wikimedia Commons

It's about time... daylight saving time, to be precise. Some Oregon and Washington legislators want to end the yearly practice of springing forward and falling back.

Kevin Wolf / Associated Press

Washington state will receive more than $21 million from a settlement with financial services company Standard & Poor's.

The company was accused of inflating credit ratings and misleading investors in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

The deal was part of a $1.4 billion agreement with the federal government and 18 other states.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said it was among the state's biggest won consumer payouts.

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Why is there a Des Moines in Washington as well as Iowa? What does the word "Kennewick" really mean? What on Earth is a "Twisp," and why did it stop being Gloversville? We asked our Facebook fans to tell us the names of some Washington towns they wanted to know more about.

America's Two Des Moines

How Do You Say That? Washington Edition.

Jan 29, 2015
www.kevindemon.com

A while back, we asked our Twitter followers how they pronounce Boise, the capital of Idaho. Turns out Idahoans say Boise different than most people. 

The Washington and Oregon employment departments have closed the book on 2014 with the release of their December jobs numbers.

At a Tuesday news conference, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg said Washington’s unregulated medical marijuana industry is “unworkable” and “needs to be fixed.

Backlog Of Rape Kits Prompts Bill In Washington State

Jan 14, 2015
Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Law enforcement agencies in Washington State estimate more than 5,ooo kits containing DNA taken from rape victims are sitting on the shelf. A bill in Olympia would try to get these kits to the state’s crime lab to see what the evidence reveals.

At a hearing Wednesday Rick Bell, a prosecutor from Ohio, spoke in support of the measure. He says when his state started testing all of the rape kits sitting on its shelves distinct patterns of violent crime were revealed.

Washington Department of Labor and Industries

The new year will mean higher pay for low-wage workers in Oregon and Washington. The minimum wage in both states is set for an increase.

The minimum wage in both Washington and Oregon is tied to inflation. It's going up by 15 cents an hour in both states: to $9.47 in Washington and $9.25 in Oregon.

Washington Consolidated Technology Services

 

     

A foil-wrapped secret room is a plausible use for unused portions of Washington’s new data center. That’s according to a national expert on what Time Magazine has dubbed “spy-proof rooms.”

You’ve likely never heard of a SCIF. Unless you’re a fan of the TV show Drop Dead Diva.

“Excuse me, what’s a SCIF? It is a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility,” the show says.

Katheirne Hitt Flickr

The city of Seattle is developing new rules to license medical marijuana dispensaries and stem their growth.

The city also wants to crack down on illegal marijuana-delivery businesses.

David Mendoza is a policy advisor for Seattle. He’s developing the city’s new medical marijuana rules.
He told the city council today that the Seattle Police Department is looking at seizing marijuana from these businesses, without filing criminal charges.

Washington Consolidated Technology Services

Efforts to lease Washington’s overbuilt data center have so far been unsuccessful.

Picture an unfinished space about the size of an indoor soccer arena with 20 foot ceilings and a concrete floor. The state built four of these data center halls but now it only needs two of them. Servers are getting smaller and attempts to lease this surplus space to the private sector for data center use have been ineffective. Now the state is casting a wider net.

Rob St. John oversees the state data center.

“We’re open to almost any sort of alternate use,” St. John said. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The agency that oversees child welfare in Washington wants to hire nearly 100 more child protection workers.

But the budget request comes after years of lawsuits that cost the state more than $150 million. Now the question is whether Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services has taken adequate steps to learn from child welfare cases that went awry.

Part of the problem is fresh reports of child abuse and neglect keep pouring in – up 10,000 over the last two years.

'It truly is a crisis'

Overdose Deaths in Wash. Drop Slightly

Nov 18, 2014
AP Images

The number of people dying from opiate overdoses in Washington state stayed relatively the same from 2012 to last year. The Washington State Department of Health released overdose data this week. And the figures show 227 people in the state overdosed and died from heroin last year -- 381 people overdosed and died from opiate-based prescription pain medications. In both cases that’s a slight decrease from the year before.

The highest rate of total opiate related deaths was in Southwest Washington’s Cowlitz County.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Astroturfing is when interest groups run a campaign that’s designed to look like it’s grassroots in nature. A document obtained by public radio shows the oil industry is at the center of more than a dozen Astroturf groups in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington state is 125 years old. There was a celebration Tuesday at the state capitol. It featured a historic reenactment, a time capsule ceremony and, of course, cake.

In the Capitol Rotunda, a member of the Squaxin Indian tribe sang a blessing song.

That was followed by “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Then a speech by the governor before the action moved to Washington’s time capsule. The locked vault was opened and a new generation of time capsule-keepers sworn in.

When It Comes To The Apple Club, Washington's A VIP

Nov 10, 2014
Dan Charles / NPR

Monday morning, NPR ran a story about the changing apple market - specifically, about "club" apples, exclusively-branded apples that only some groups are allowed to grow. You probably know a few of these club apples already. The Honeycrisp is the best-known. And more and more club apples are showing up in stores across the country: the Jazz, the Envy, the Ambrosia. These new apples could even some day push out traditional varieties like the Red Delicious.

Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr

It’s election week. Here in the Northwest, Washington and Oregon voters will cast their ballots by mail – or drop box. In Idaho, most voters still go to the polls.

Washington Apple Commission / Northwest News Network

    

Washington apples will soon be packed aboard boats to China. That’s because the Chinese government approved market access to Northwest fruit today after a two-year market closure. 

Getting access to China is essentially a $50 million dollar deal per year for Washington apples farmers.

The Chinese government closed off markets in August of 2012. China said it was concerned about a recently discovered fungus.

Faith Community Weighs In On Gun Initiatives

Oct 22, 2014
M Glasgow / Flickr

This November, Washingtonians will vote on two opposing initiatives on background checks for firearms: 591 and 594. Some of the leading voices on the gun rights debate have come from religious organizations. Reporter Ryan Katz tells us how communities of faith have been viewing this issue.

On a Friday evening in late September, a couple hundred people arrive at the United Methodist Church in Queen Anne to listen to some classical music. But this particular event was not supposed to happen here, and not now. It was meant to happen at Seattle Pacific University, in June.

Washington Insurer Settles Suit Over Autism Treatment

Oct 17, 2014
bloomsberries / Flickr

The biggest health insurance company in Washington, Regence BlueShield, has settled a pair of class action lawsuits for $6 million.

Families with autistic children took the company to court over its failure to cover a treatment known as 'Applied Behavioral Therapy.' It involves extensive one-on-one work between a child and a therapist, and can cost $50,000 a year or more.

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