Anna King

Richland Correspondent

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.

The South Sound was her girlhood backyard and she knows its rocky beaches, mountain trails and cities well. She left the west side to attend Washington State University and went abroad to study language and culture in Italy.

While not on the job, Anna enjoys trail running, clam digging, hiking and wine tasting with friends. She's most at peace on top a Northwest mountain with her husband Andy Plymale and their muddy Aussie-dog Poa.

In 2016 Washington State University named Anna Woman of the Year, and the Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington Pro Chapter named her Journalist of the Year. Her many journalism awards include two Gracies, a Sigma Delta Chi medal and the David Douglas Award from the Washington State Historical Society.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of Tyson Fresh Meats court filing

The starting point of a Northwest-based saga of alleged invented cattle, a multi-million dollar lawsuit and two bankruptcies may lie in a short handwritten list of numbers scrawled on a lined sheet of three-hole punch paper that purports to show Cody Easterday’s annual losses from speculating on the cattle futures market.

Courtesy of Franklin County, Washington

Just how do you miss 200,000 phantom cattle over several years? That’s what some people in the Columbia Basin cattle-feeding industry are wondering in an ongoing saga between Tyson Fresh Meats and Easterday Ranches.

“It’s hard to believe,” says Mike DeTray, who runs a 4,000-head operation outside of George, Wash. 

Courtesy of Franklin County, Wash.

In southeast Washington, the welfare of more than 50,000 head of cattle is worrying Tyson Fresh Meats

Can the herd continue to be fed and cared for while the company set up to guard over them, Easterday Ranches, files for federal bankruptcy?

Courtesy of Easterday Farms' public Facebook page

Updated Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, 5 p.m. PT

The Easterday family spread unfurls across the Columbia Basin — yawning onion farms, massive potato sheds, huge swaths of ground cut into pens for cattle and a fleet of employee vehicles and tractors. 

But the Easterday family has other assets: A million-dollar house in Phoenix and a private plane and hangar. 

Courtesy of Nicole Berg

The case of so-called modern-day cattle rustling in southeastern Washington is getting more complex by the day. 

Now, Easterday Ranches has filed for bankruptcy in federal court. 

Courtesy of Franklin County, Washington

In a deepening cattle war, Easterday Ranches, Inc. has sold its so-called “North Lot” property in Franklin County, Washington, to a beef competitor of Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.

Courtesy of Franklin County, Wash.

It’s a modern-day rustling case. 

A major Washington state cattle operator allegedly “fed” more than 200,000 head of cattle that didn’t exist for years. Now Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc is suing. 

Tyson says in a lawsuit filed in Franklin County Superior Court this week that its losses are more than $225 million. The losses are from false cattle sales and feed costs.  

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.

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.

CSPAN-Screenshot

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

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.

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.

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. 

City of Tonasket

Debbie Roberts wishes her step-brother had just slid away from his advanced Parkinson’s disease.

He died November 29, just one person among many who died in an outbreak of COVID-19 at North Valley Extended Care in the Okanogan County town of Tonasket — population about 1,000. So far, at least 16 people at the facility have died since Thanksgiving.

Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW

Lauri Jones has been working in public health in Washington’s Okanogan County for 17 years.

But after repeated threats to her safety, she recently got a new security system for her home.

“I still find myself sometimes looking over my shoulder,” Jones says. “Especially if I walk out of the building and it’s getting obviously dark earlier.”

She’s not leaving her post as the community health director. But her colleague Dr. John McCarthy is in December. He says the workload has become too heavy.

Anna King / NW News Network

In the weeks leading up to the election, residents in five smaller areas around eastern Washington and Oregon spoke about how they were feeling.

Now, as people are awaiting results, I checked in with a few.

Anxious raking

Since Tuesday, Cynthia Hurlbutt has raked about an acre of walnut leaves on her property near Walla Walla, Washington.

Anna King / NW News Network

The Columbia River isn’t ready when cold snaps suddenly.

The water body that defines and geographically splits Washington and Oregon throws up billows of milky steam.

As I drive south from the Tri-Cities toward Oregon, there’s fog so thick I can hardly see ahead of me. My heart pounds for a few moments wondering what’s just ahead. Then, I break clear again, and the sunrise roars through in bright red and gold.  

Courtesy of Linda Haugen

Ardel McPhail says it’s foggy now most mornings on her family’s cranberry bogs just north of IIwaco, Washington, near the Pacific Coast. 

She and her husband own the largest bogs in Washington —  more than 100 acres. 

Washington grows about 148,000 100-pound barrels of cranberries and Oregon grows about 558,000 barrels each year. 

Ann King / NW News Network

Dusty pumpkins slap between rough hands as workers throw them into a tractor’s trailer. 

It’s a rhythmic, full sound, like a child testing a drum. 

This third-generation farm supplies more than 600,000 pumpkins to Walmarts, Wincos, Yokes and Home Depots in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. But here in southeast Washington near the Tri-Cities, the farm’s future is at stake.

There’s a fight over a proposed reservoir that pits these third-generation pumpkin farmers against thousands of potential water users.  

Anna King / NW News Network

A year ago, blueberry executives and farmers from all over the world celebrated at a scenic winery near Richland, Washington. 

James Dean Kindle & the East Oregon Playboys jammed out catchy Western tunes in the ballroom. 

But as the wine flowed and chafing dishes brimmed with beef sliders and salmon cakes, there were warning signs for U.S. blueberry farmers.

Imports from Mexico, Peru, Chile and Canada are shipping in lower-cost fruit during the U.S. growing season. 

Anna King / NW News Network

Thousands of vines roll over the hills like neatly placed stitches on a rumpled bed quilt. 

The sunset on Red Mountain’s Sunset Road near Richland, Washington, is usually spectacular. But on this evening, the sun just slips behind a dirty-white veil of smoke. 

Pickers can’t work as much in the smoke, says Red Mountain winemaker Charlie Hoppes

Washington Dept. of Agriculture

Correction, Sept. 18, 2020: A word to describe the amount of apples brought by Gov. Jay Inslee has been changed in this story to better reflect the amount of apples. The word "box" is now used instead of "bin." A "bin" of apples is a more technical industry term that is much larger than the actual number of apples in question.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s well-intentioned gesture of western Washington apples sent a detective hunting down the fruit in three counties this week.

Courtesy of Brandon Hazenberg

With at least two dozen Oregon dairies threatened by raging wildfires, farmers are grappling with the delicate task of moving them to safer ground — or staying put.  

Willamette Valley dairyman Brandon Hazenberg of St. Paul, Oregon, has been hauling feed and bedding, and offering up his dairy as a landing pad for those in need. 

Courtesy of Kim Grewe-Powell

Widespread wildfires across the Northwest are causing owners to evacuate more than 2,000 pets and livestock into fairgrounds, friends’ properties and even across state lines. 

At the Oregon State Fairgrounds, in Salem, there are at least 500 animals evacuated: horses, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, chickens, birds and even a tortoise. 

UPDATES: Count Shows Hundreds Of Homes Burned In Eastern Washington Fires

Sep 7, 2020
Spokane County Fire Dist. 8 via Twitter

QUICK LINKS/INFO:

-Red Cross: 509-670-5331

Cold Springs Fire Information (InciWeb)

Northwest Large Fires Map

Washington DNR Fire Info (Twitter)

Courtesy of Stillwater Creek Vineyard

The federal government has designated the Royal Slope as Washington state’s newest American Viticultural Area, or AVA.

To qualify as an AVA, a wine grape-growing region must set itself apart with climate, soil, elevation and physical features. A new one doesn’t come around very often.

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