Northwest News Network

Regional Public Journalism from twelve public radio stations throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

A World War II army veteran in Great Britain achieved world renown earlier this year with a charity walk to raise money for British health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic. The achievement went viral -- in a good way -- and inspired another pandemic feat by a 100-year-old U.S. Army veteran across the ocean in Portland, Oregon.

Pandemic stay-at-home orders gave lots of households extra time for spring cleaning. Some people rediscovered World War II artifacts, including inscribed Japanese flags taken as souvenirs by American soldiers from Pacific battlefields.

Now, aging veterans and their descendants are attempting to return memorabilia to the families of their former enemies ahead of a milestone anniversary. Next Wednesday, September 2, marks 75 years to the day since the Japanese surrender ceremony that ended World War II.

A lot of freshly harvested wheat bound for Portland, Oregon, could stack up on the Columbia River system soon because an old guy wire has snapped on the Snake River’s Lower Monumental Dam.  

Many Northwest wine tastings for groups are done over Zoom nowadays. 

Here at Fidélitas in southeast Washington, winemaker and owner Charlie Hoppes explains some of his favorite flavors in a video for wine club members with his son: 

“We always seem to get that little bit of dustiness in this wine, that we talk about from Red Mountain,” Hoppes says.

Strong winds continue to push the Palmer Fire in north-central Washington north toward the Canadian border. It’s now several miles from the border and has grown to more than 11,000 acres. A helicopter with GPS tracking will soon help update the acreage numbers.

Crews made good progress near the Palmer Lake Lodge overnight Thursday into Friday. Firefighters were mopping up in the area and continued to protect buildings and reinforce fire lines. 

The months-long closure of the U.S.-Canada border to non-essential crossings has been extended again. The border crossing restrictions will last at least until late September, probably longer, due to the pandemic. The outlook is leading people who used to cross regularly to make major life changes.

Former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington, a three-term Republican and 9/11 commissioner, died Wednesday at the age of 92. Gorton's death was confirmed by J. Vanderstoep, a former campaign manager and chief of staff. Vanderstoep said Gorton suffered from a condition related to Parkinson's disease.

Thomas Slade Gorton III was born in Chicago in 1928. He was a descendant of the Gorton Seafood family of Massachusetts. But it was politics that attracted him from a young age.

This year, Molly Linville and her husband David fixed up their truck. But it isn’t any old used vehicle. It’s meant to save lives and property.

At the end of the 2019 fire season, Linville scoped out the perfect surplus brush truck that would help them squash new fires on their ranch and at neighboring properties. Instead of hooking up hoses to irrigation lines, now they had wheels.

It's not often that you'll read an obituary for a tree. Or that a dead tree gets a memorial service of sorts. But then there aren't many like Vancouver, Washington's "Old Apple Tree."

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In February, Tiffany Krueger and her business partner Joanna Sather fulfilled their dream of opening a small training gym focused on serving women in the Olympia area. Athena Fitness and Wellness offered large group workout classes, small group training, a Himalayan Salt room, a sauna and even child care.

And then the coronavirus pandemic struck.

“I think it’s like the worst timing ever,” Krueger said in a recent interview.

A firefighter who helped put out a recent wildfire in north-central Washington has been diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s the third state Department of Natural Resources firefighter diagnosis this fire season. 

In response, land managers are asking people to avoid starting fires to help keep crews safe.

Near Walla Walla, Washington, off U.S. Highway 12, stacks of baled straw are plunked down in jagged rows. They cut boxy midday shadows amid the crew-cut stubble. It’s harvest time.

Driving through Mattawa July 29, onlookers witnessed a seemingly jovial scene that sounded like a block party. But among the gritos of the mariachi and the dancing residents of Mattawa, they heard expressions of anger and frustration. 

It’s a labor demonstration. And a political one.

In early June, as Gov. Jay Inslee was overseeing a phased reopening of the state, his budget office signed a contract with the elite international consulting firm McKinsey & Company to provide access to a “Governor’s Decision Support Tool.” That tool was meant to aid Inslee’s decision-making as he gradually unlocked the economy.

But access to McKinsey’s customized COVID-19 risk tool didn’t come cheap. Under the contract, the state initially agreed to pay for eight weeks of access to McKinsey’s services and proprietary data sets. The cost to taxpayers: $165,000 per week. And that was McKinsey’s government discount rate.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced new regulations Thursday for long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, that give families better visiting options. These facilities, where people with vulnerable conditions reside, were put on lockdown as the pandemic began to spike this past spring.

 

Walking into the vast B Reactor chamber at the Hanford Site, Tri-Cities musician Denin Koch felt the pull of history and innovation.

Okanogan County is eastern Washington’s latest area of concern for COVID-19 cases.

Eight people, at least two of them foreign H-2A farmworkers, have died in the county. That’s considered a lot for the geographically large yet relatively sparsely populated county of about 42,000 people.

The recovery in airline travel seems to have hit a plateau in recent weeks, according to Transportation Security Administration checkpoint screening numbers. With the end of coronavirus pandemic seemingly beyond the horizon, the near future is turning grim for workers in the airline and airports sector.

Multiple airport tenants in Seattle and Portland issued layoff notices in the past week. But in a possible sign of optimism over the long term, the Pacific Northwest's major airport operators, the ports of Seattle and Portland, are continuing with big budget construction projects.

This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

In Washington state, tax collections are expected to tumble by $8.8 billion over the next three years. For context, the state's current two-year budget is about $53 billion.

The Twilight phenomenon gets an injection of fresh blood this Tuesday with the release of a new installment in the bestselling vampire saga from author Stephenie Meyer. The series of novels and subsequent hit movies spurred legions of fans to visit the fictional story's real-life setting on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. But a predicted "renaissance" in vampire tourism could be bled by the resurgent virus pandemic.

The Snake River dams in Washington would remain in place under a final study released Friday, July 31, by federal agencies. 

The plan guides dam management on the Columbia River System, which includes the four controversial Lower Snake River dams — Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story below includes a description and image of dead cattle that some people may find disturbing

Two more cattle have been mysteriously killed in rural eastern Oregon. 

A black-coated cow was found dead in July outside of Fossil, found sitting with her legs tucked under her body with her head off the ground. Pictures show her eyes bulging out with flies around the body. The cow’s tongue and genitals were removed. 

Multiple nonprofits and universities that received large gifts this month from Seattle billionaire MacKenzie Scott are describing the donations as "transformative." Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, disclosed Tuesday that she made nearly $1.7 billion in donations since her April 2019 divorce from the world's richest man.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected an appeal by former Washington state Auditor Troy Kelley who sought to have his 2017 convictions for possession of stolen property, filing false tax returns and making false statements overturned.

Kelley was previously sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, but has remained free while appealing his case. 

The coronavirus pandemic has served to remind many of us how much we count on strangers staying healthy so we can restock our cupboards and go about daily life. That's especially true for Alaskans who depend on a marine cargo lifeline from the Pacific Northwest for the majority of their goods.

NOTE: Anna King is based in Washington’s Tri-Cities. On Wednesday morning, June 3, she felt fine. Then, fever came on like a train — 104 degrees. She feared she had COVID-19. Early that Saturday, she headed to the emergency room. Here’s part of Anna’s seven-week diary. Listen to it above.

Body aches, nausea. Things are a blur. It’s hard to breathe. It’s hard to think. 

Looking over the edge of a Columbia River Gorge slope, you can see the river more than 2,000 feet below. A former aluminum smelter sits to the left at the bottom of the cliff. Wind turbines spin nearby lining the cliff’s edge.

This site near Goldendale, in Klickitat County, could one day help solve a downside of current renewable energy technology: reliability. But it’s not without controversy.

Mountain goats, mule deer and black bears all move across the rugged basalt cliffs, forest and grasslands that make up the Klickitat Canyon Conservation Area. Salmon and steelhead swim up the Klickitat River, Washington’s longest wild river, running through the conservation area.

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