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

RICHLAND, Wash. – The state of Washington’s largest public sector embezzlement case ever moves forward Thursday with a guilty plea. A public works employee admits he took the money over more than 20 years in Franklin County in the southeast part of the state.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Northwest winemakers are trying to wet-the-whistle of China's emerging middle class. Demand for wine is growing significantly there. And that’s drawn Chinese business delegations, restaurateurs and tourists to our region. There even may be a reality TV show that would feature Northwest wineries.

Back when the economy was rolling in mid-2000s, Long Shadows Wineries was jumping.

US Department of Energy

  RICHLAND, Wash. – News out of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation can sometimes sound like just one critical report after another. In fact, last week a federal watchdog agency said Hanford’s massive waste treatment plant is in jeopardy. Several developments lately have intensified the debate over this question: Should a massive federal waste treatment plant move ahead or stop to fix its nagging technical problems?

Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – A federal watchdog agency says work should stop on parts of Hanford’s troubled Waste Treatment Plant. That’s the complex factory in southeast Washington being built to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. A new report out Friday says the project will cost even more and take even longer.

The new report by the federal Government Accountability Office says the U.S. has paid contractors millions of dollars for work they didn’t do right. And the agency recommends trying to recoup those tax dollars.

US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Federal and state officials announced this week that construction can partially resume at Hanford’s massive waste treatment plant now that some technical problems have been resolved. But a top former Hanford manager is calling for the Secretary of Energy to halt work altogether on the southeast Washington project.

Oregon State Police

The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered a Canadian bus company to cease operations in the United States after a deadly crash in Oregon in late December. Investigators blame driver fatigue. But not everyone in the Northwest Korean community is glad for the tour company’s shuttering here.

The bus accident killed nine people on a treacherous bit of Interstate 84, near Pendleton. Now, the federal government found in an investigation that, “Mi Joo Tour & Travel failed to take basic measures to ensure that its drivers are properly rested for safe vehicle operations …”

Oregon State Police

The Northwest’s tight-knit Korean community continues to grieve the nine people who died in that bus crash just before New Year’s Eve in northeast Oregon. Some of the survivors have already filed a lawsuit against the tour bus company, saying the driver was too tired and going too fast.

Members of a Korean church in Bothell, Washington, are grieving one of their youth pastors. The Oregon State Police haven’t confirmed the death of nineteen-year-old Richard Sohn, but Community Church of Seattle members believe he was on the bus and has died.

Oregon State Police

Two young victims of a deadly bus crash in northeast Oregon that happened just before New Year’s Eve have filed a new lawsuit.  They say the driver was fatigued and going too fast.

The two boys – 15 and 16 -- who filed the lawsuit, describe a harrowing scene. The boys are from Korea, in the U.S. on student visas. They say the tour bus flipped end-over-end as it fell hundreds of feet down an embankment. The boys say they were knocked unconscious or fainted and awoke to screams, people pinned in seats and dead bodies all around them.

Oregon State Police

The Northwest Korean community is grieving two more victims in that deadly bus crash in northeast Oregon. So far, seven of the nine victims’ names have been released in the accident that also injured dozens.

One of the latest two victims to be identified is Chun Ho Bahn, age 63. She was a U.S. Citizen from Bothell, Washington. Her husband is being treated at a hospital in Pendleton. The other victim is Ae Ja Kim, age 61, from Korea. Her husband is still being treated in Portland, Oregon.

USDA

RICHLAND, Wash. – Many Northwest growers are left out of the partial extension of the U.S. Farm Bill included in this week’s fiscal cliff legislation. The new law largely covers conventional agriculture and not the organics, specialty crops and conservation programs that our region’s farmers are known for.

Oregon State Police

RICHLAND, Wash. – Two Korean tourists who were visiting family in Bothell, Washington are the latest victims to be identified in that deadly bus crash in northeast Oregon. Police say Sunday’s accident east of Pendleton was Oregon’s deadliest crash since 1971. Among the dead were 67-year-old Jung Oun Hong and his 63-year-old wife, Kim Joong Wha of Korea.

Lieutenant Gregg Hastings with the Oregon State Police says there are some real challenges in identifying the victims quickly for waiting families.

GenoaPhoto.com

Travel experts say holiday driving around the Northwest will be especially treacherous this year. Snow, wind, rain and ice are predicted through Christmas. This week, a man from Kennewick died in a car wreck on I-90 during snowy weather in central Washington.

First rule? Yes, you’ve heard it before: “Slow down.”

In case you didn't get that, Alice Fiman, a spokeswoman from Washington’s Department of Transportation adds, “And even if you think you’re going slow enough, slow down again.”

Alan Vernon / Wikimedia

As winter begins, humming bird experts say more of the tiny birds may be sticking around the Northwest instead of migrating south.

There are three types of hummingbirds Northwesterners might be seeing more of at feeders or in their yards this time of year: the Rufous, the Anna’s or the Allen’s hummingbirds. These little birds are able to survive the cold by lowering their body temperature, hiding in the lees of tree trunks, shivering to warm up and eating a lot.

State of Washington

When Governor Chris Gregoire leaves office in January, she’ll take with her nearly a quarter-century’s worth of expertise on one of the most contaminated places on earth. Cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has been one of her top priorities. Before Gregoire was governor, she worked on Hanford issues as the state’s attorney general and before that as ecology director.

Gregoire knows cleaning up Hanford is no easy task. She’s been involved longer than many of the top federal site managers. And despite all of the problems and complexities she’s still optimistic.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The federal government is reviewing three years of payments to a major contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The review follows growing concerns about a nuclear waste treatment plant at the southeast Washington site.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A massive fire that burned 61 homes in Central Washington was likely caused by Department of Transportation contractors. That’s the upshot of a report issued Monday by Washington’s Department of Natural Resources.

The aptly named Taylor Bridge Fire started August 13 right after transportation contractors did some welding work on that bridge. It happened near the mountain town of Cle Elum.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – We’ve heard a lot about whistleblowers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Some workers there have gone public with serious concerns about how the government is cleaning up radioactive waste.

But this story is about a different kind of Hanford Whistleblower.

Every Sunday evening at 7:15 p.m. sharp, Chris Doran welcomes several Hanford Whistleblowers into his book-filled home. His wife Nancy brings out the tea and homemade baked goods. They sit and chat politely. And then, they start to play.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington environmental regulators say a new 6,000 page plan for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is very useful. But it lacks a definitive path forward for treating a large part of the radioactive sludge there.

The most radioactively contaminated waste at Hanford is set to be bound up into more stable glass logs in a huge factory being built here. But the government hasn’t decided exactly what to do with everything else -- the Low Activity Waste -- in this new massive cleanup roadmap.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. -- President Barack Obama has been publicly warning Syria’s leaders not to use chemical weapons against their own people. The news is unexpectedly relevant in southeast Washington. Researchers at at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing new scientific techniques to trace chemical agents back to their sources.

Carlos Fraga is a dapperly dressed Ph.D. chemist, doing research for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His lab looks normal enough -- that is until he points out a certain cabinet.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. and KENNEWICK, Wash. – In Washington’s capital city, the county auditor was also prepared for a rush of marriage-license applicants. Instead, it felt like business as usual. Just one couple got showed up.

Deborah Dulaney and Diane McGee dressed warmly and brought an umbrella. They figured they’d be waiting out in the rain to get a wedding license on day one.

“Then we just walk right in," Diane says. "It was nice, but I’m kind of disappointed. I wanted to party.”

US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The federal government plans to release a major document early next week that could guide a couple of decades worth of cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. This is important because it maps out decisions like where to bury the radioactive waste, and how much to leave in place.

The new document is huge -- 6,000 pages huge. And it’s taken about 10 years to draft.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Northwest agriculture advocates are more optimistic Congress will take up the issue of immigration after a forum this week in Washington, D.C. The effort is getting support from a surprising mix of organizations.

Photo courtesy of Sonja Yearsley

RICHLAND, Wash. – This week, many same-sex couples in Washington will line up to get marriage licenses beginning Thursday at 12:01 a.m. In southeast Washington, two brides were planning their wedding ceremony for the weekend after Election Day, just as Washington voters were deciding whether legally sanction their union. Anna King spoke to Sara Belchik-Moser about her wife Annie.

“Six years ago, we actually met in a bar for the first time. And I didn’t like her. She’s a blue-eyed blonde and I never thought I’d be attracted to the ideal woman of the blue-eyed blonde.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy still has work to do to improve its own safety culture. That’s the upshot of a recent study on the federal agency that heads environmental cleanup of nuclear waste across the country, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

Courtesy Columbia Grain

 

A possible strike or lock out at Northwest grain terminals would have a profound effect on U.S. wheat exports. 

U.S. Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are readying pumping equipment at a slow-leaking radioactive waste tank in case the leak gets worse. A newly released report details why the tank became unstable.

Hanford officials say so far they’ve found no waste leaking into the environment from the tank called AY-102.

The new report says many of the tanks original welds from 40 years ago didn’t meet standards and had to be fixed before it was filled. Later, super-hot waste was added that was likely corrosive to the tank’s metal walls.

Photo by nerissa's ring via Flickr

RICHLAND, Wash. – This holiday season, Northwest winemakers are hoping to expand their customer base with a new sales venue. Seattle’s online shopping giant Amazon.com is now shipping wine.

Tom Hedges is co-founder of Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain in southeast Washington. He says his family has only been selling wine on Amazon.com for about a week. It will take a few months to truly see if selling bottles through the site will actually pencil out.

Hedges doesn’t think there will be a lot of overlap with already established customers.

The Durant Family

Groves of olive trees might bring to mind for you sun-soaked Mediterranean or Californian landscapes. But in the last 10 years, a few Northwest growers have significantly ramped-up their production of domestic olive oil. They harvest just in time for the holidays.

The Durant family started in the wine grape business in Yamhill County, Oregon. The family diversified into olive growing about seven years ago.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

PASCO, Wash. – Just as this year’s Halloween fades into memory, many Northwest Latino families are getting ready for the Day of the Dead. The traditional Mexican holiday is on Friday. Some families blend the two holidays.

In Pasco, Washington, bakeries can hardly churn out enough seasonal pan muerto. It’s a type of semi-sweet bread that has the shapes of bones and skulls baked right in. 

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