News

Courtesy of City of Richland

It was kind of like the fair — only not. 

On Monday the Benton County Fairgrounds in Kennewick, Wash., were full of port-a-potties, event tents, people in bright vests directing traffic and hundreds of cars. But it’s bitter winter, not summer. There’s no cotton candy. And the smiles of patrons are briefer, with a solemn edge.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

A long goodbye to natural gas furnaces and water heating -- and possibly other gas appliances -- could begin with action by the Washington Legislature this winter. Separately, the Seattle City Council this week begins consideration of a similar proposal to eliminate fossil fuel-based heating in new commercial buildings.

A potato processing plant in the central Washington town of Warden burned down in a dramatic overnight fire Thursday. 

By early Friday morning, emergency responders had evacuated nearly a third of the homes near the plant. Flames were licking a large tank of ammonia, and firefighters feared it might explode. 

“This was a very large fire,” Kyle Foreman with the Grant County Sheriff’s Department said. “Certainly one of the top 10 in my career.”

Tom Banse / NW News Network

QUICK LINKS:

Washington Vaccine Information Page


FindYourPhaseWA – Washington Vaccine Phase Finder

WA Vaccine Hotline (6 AM to 10 PM M-F; 8 AM to 6 PM weekends): 800-525-0127

ANNA KING/NW NEWS NETWORK

As President Donald Trump prepared to leave office, his Department of Energy was celebrating that a new analytical lab was “ready to operate” at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington.

The lab, being largely constructed by DOE contractor Bechtel National, Inc. is part of a low-level radioactive waste treatment facility meant to make glass logs out of the hazardous goo.

Courtesy Providence SW Washington

The state of Washington, hamstrung as many states have been by a slow distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, will deploy the National Guard, set up mass vaccination sites and create a new public-private partnership to lead a renewed effort to get the vaccine into the arms of people.

The move comes as the state prepares to immediately advance to the next phase of people eligible for a vaccination beyond health care workers, first responders and those living and working in nursing homes.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Hundreds of elderly drivers put their cars in line way before dawn for the opening day of a first come, first serve drive-thru COVID vaccination clinic in Sequim, Washington. The scene provided a dramatic illustration of eagerness among many seniors to get the coveted shots. Hospitals in other medium-sized and smaller Washington communities that have opened vaccination appointment lines to all seniors in recent days report being swamped as well.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management - tinyurl.com/ya4rs6sx

Washington’s salmon are “teetering on the brink of extinction,” according to a new report. It says the state must change how it’s responding to climate change and the growing number of people in Washington. 

CSPAN-Screenshot

The U.S. House voted 232 to 197 Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time.

Spokane County Fire Dist. 8 via Twitter

To keep Washington from facing another devastating fire season, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is asking the state legislature to create a dedicated fund for firefighting, forest restoration and community response.

PARKER MILES BLOHM / KNKX

A proposal to impose sweeping restrictions on police tactics and techniques in Washington is highlighting stark differences of opinion between police and reform groups.

Megan Farmer / KUOW

People age 70 and older as well as some people living with an elder will be next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington. The state Department of Health on Wednesday provided awaited details for whose turn comes when to get the precious and scarce shots.

Mike Baird / bairdphotos.com via Wikimedia Commons

Bringing back sea otters to the Oregon Coast just got a high-level endorsement. The federal budget for this new year, which President Trump signed after some unrelated last minute drama, includes a directive to study sea otter reintroduction.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

Amid the ongoing pandemic and threats by far-right protesters to "occupy" the Capitol, Washington lawmakers will convene Monday for what will ultimately be a mostly remote 2021 session with a focus on the ongoing response to COVID-19, police reform, addressing climate change and writing a two-year state budget.

Grant County Sheriff's Office

A central Washington sheriff’s deputy has died of COVID-19,  according to the Grant County Coroner's office. 

Jon Melvin, 60, was found Dec. 11, 2020, in bed at his home in Desert Aire, in southwestern Grant County. Fellow deputies were checking on his welfare after family members were unable to reach him.

“He had pneumonia due to COVID-19,” Jerry Jasman, chief investigator with the Grant County Coroner's office, said Monday.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

The COVID-19 pandemic is a recurring theme as Washington state lawmakers prepare to convene their 2021 legislative session. Some legislators are raring to get started and have already drafted and filed the proposals they plan to formally introduce once the opening gavel falls on January 11.

Besides the coronavirus, other high-profile topics teed up for 2021 lawmaking have to do with voting, climate goals and racial equity.

Anna King / NW News Network

The first time it happened, it was a squeezing feeling. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart raced. At the hospital, I got an EKG and took a blood test. It wasn’t a heart attack. Just felt like one. Then, it happened again. And again. 

Anna King / NW News Network

At the Hanford site in southeastern Washington, along the Columbia River, stew millions of gallons of radioactive sludge cradled in aging underground tanks. Nearly 2,000 capsules filled with cesium and strontium rest unquietly in an old, glowing-blue pool of water. Two more reactors along the Columbia still need to be sealed up and cocooned.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Sure, you're a good Pacific Northwesterner because you recycle your beer cans, cardboard boxes and plastic milk jugs. But what about that dust-collecting piano you have long wanted to unload? It doesn't fit into the recycling bin. Creative upcycling might be the answer.

Alan Scheiber

Alan Scheiber is one organic farmer who would have never applied so-called “Agro Gold WS” to about a dozen acres if he’d known it contained synthetic herbicides. 

“It is just beyond the pale of acceptability,” Schreiber says. “No legitimate organic grower would ever use Glyphosate or Diquat — the products that were found in this organic herbicide in an organic farm — no person would ever do that.” 

Courtesy of Danica Garcia

Leavenworth Mayor Carl Florea says that this year, the “capital of Christmas” isn't doing any of the usual characters, festivals, open fire pits or even the famous tree lighting

“The only thing left that basically says we’re a Christmas town is that the trees in our park are still lit up with lights,” he says. 

Train carrying crude oil derails, catches fire in Whatcom County

Dec 22, 2020
Washington Dept. of Ecology

A train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire in Whatcom County Tuesday morning, prompting officials to evacuate all nearby residents and businesses for several hours.

Reports that the train had derailed came in around 11:46 a.m., according to the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, in the 7500 block of Portal Way in Custer, Wash., roughly 15 miles north of Bellingham along I-5.

Officials initially evacuated the area around the scene due to the toxicity of oil smoke, but lifted the order at approximately 4:44 p.m.

Pool photo / Courtesy of UW Medicine

The initial deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to Oregon, Washington state and Idaho are spoken for — at least well into next month. High-risk health care workers, EMT/paramedics and nursing homes have top priority to get the vaccine jab. But then who?

Courtesy Washington Dept. of Ecology

The environmental review of a 90-year-old dam in central Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness will start soon. Eightmile Dam is considered a threat to people and property downstream near Leavenworth.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Three years ago on December 18, a speeding Amtrak Cascades train bound for Portland derailed near DuPont, Washington, and tumbled onto Interstate 5. The crash killed three passengers and injured scores of others. An Olympia woman marked the anniversary Friday by going back to her local blood donation center to achieve a related, but happier milestone.

As he prepares to begin a third term in office, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a new tax on health care premiums to fund post-pandemic public health. He’s also once again urging the Legislature to pass a capital gains tax.

The tax measures are contained in Inslee’s two-year, $57.6 billion operating budget proposal released Thursday in advance of the 2021 Legislative session. Separately, the Democratic governor also released proposed capital construction and transportation budgets.

Washington Apple Commission

Homes, schools, parks and daycares on Central Washington’s former orchards could soon be one step closer to sitting atop less contaminated ground. A workgroup is finalizing a report to help spread the word about pesticide contamination from more than a century ago – and to give advice on how to help clean it up.

Courtesy Jo Arlow

It stands to reason that all the stress, anxiety and isolation of the pandemic could lead more people to take their own lives. But newly obtained data for Oregon and Washington show this is one bad thing that 2020 has not delivered.

Courtesy: TVW.org

The first doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine should start arriving in Washington on Monday, with the first vaccinations of front line health care workers beginning as early as Tuesday.

An upbeat Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that timeline at a rare Sunday news conference.

“We are ready to go,” Inslee said. “We now know there will be an end to this turmoil and this trauma and this challenge.”

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

For the second Saturday in a row, a gun was fired as groups of protesters from opposing ends of the political spectrum clashed in Olympia.

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