Some Walla Wallans Won’t Bend

When you drive through Washington wine country, you might see a bumper sticker that says, Don’t Bend Walla Walla. That refers to growth in central Oregon…so swift that Bend is the sixth fastest growing city in the nation. Walla Walla may follow in the footsteps of Bend, but not if some of the residents in the Washington town have THEIR way. Correspondent Carol Cizauskas explains.

Snow: “It’s not just a growth of people. It’s a growth of commercial areas, shopping areas, residential areas. It’s the need to re-design highways. It’s the arrival of levels of traffic that no one has ever seen.”
Donald Snow is professor of Environmental Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla.

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Broadcast on Northwest News Network.

Feds Could Open Hanford to Additional Nuclear Waste

A federal bill could make it easier to ship nuclear waste to Hanford. That means the site in south-central Washington may become a temporary holding tank for other states’ spent fuel. Tri-Cities correspondent Carol Cizauskas reports.

Stevens: “It is an interim storage bill which would allow utility companies that actually use nuclear reactors to put their waste somewhere other than the reactor site, and it would have a role for the Department of Energy in taking ownership of that spent nuclear fuel.”
Craig Stevens works for the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Communities Near Weapons Depot Practice Contamination Drills

Several rockets of deadly Sarin gas explode, four people are injured. Wait! It’s just the annual disaster drill in Umatilla County, Oregon, home to the Army’s chemical weapons disposal depot. Correspondent Carol Cizauskas watched a decontamination center spring to life at the HermistonCommunity Center and files this report.

Seigal: “It’s the storage of those weapons that are degrading out there that is the real risk to the community, so we’ve been preparing people for that unlikely event for a very, very long time.”
Jess Siegal is a spokesman for the emergency exercise.

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Microsoft Moves into Little Quincy, Washington

The town of Quincy, Washington, is known for potato farming. Soon, it might be known for another kind of farming, of the high-tech variety. Microsoft is setting up data server farms there, and other technology firms may follow. Correspondent Carol Cizauskas visited Quincy to find out what this means for the town of five and a half thousand.

Weber: “Before all this started happening with Microsoft and Yahoo, the attitude here in town was really kind of depressed, not really knowing what the future held.”
Harriet Weber is a Quincy historian.

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Small Oregon Town to Vote on NASCAR Speedway Tax

Morrow County, Oregon, wants to woo NASCAR to sagebrush country along the Columbia River. Boosters are asking residents to approve a sales tax for a speedway that has yet to be built. Tax proposals usually get shot down in this fiscally conservative part of the Northwest. But correspondent Carol Cizauskas found enthusiasm for the tax – and the mythical speedway.

Beckstead: “I’m for it because I love racing. I watch the Hooters, the Busch race, Craftsmen Truck, all of it. Junior’s my man, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. C.L.F., Cute Little Fella.”
Bonnie Beckstead is a 28-year Boardman resident who supports setting up NASCAR in her town.

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Oregon’s Second Congressional District Democratic Candidates Band Together

Oregon’s Second Congressional District covers more than seventy thousand square miles. That’s two thirds of the state. It’s also the scene of the primary election battle to unseat incumbent Congressman Greg Walden. The Republican has held the seat for seven years. To win back the district, the Democrats are trying an unusual political approach. The candidates have banded together for a district-wide roadshow. Correspondent Carol Cizauskas caught up with the liberal underdogs on the last day of their tour, in Baker City, Oregon.

Butcher: “My stance on the second amendment is not going to gain me a single vote, but it will take the cotton out of the ears. It will give you an opportunity to talk to people who would not listen to you to begin with. Then you show them Greg Walden’s voting record. Then you show them why you are a better choice.”
Chuck Butcher is a Democratic candidate from Baker City, Oregon.

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Washington Asparagus Growers Switch to Fresh Spears

Washington state is the second-largest asparagus producer in the country. But the industry had a near-death experience last year when the last of three major processors picked up shop and moved to Peru. The survivors in Washington are determined to compete in the worldwide market armed with just fresh spears. Correspondent Carol Cizauskas visited a mid-Columbia field of asparagus and files this report.

Nerell:  “I’ve told the people, this is a competition. You’re in a world economy, and this needs to be the most efficient shed in the world.”
Allan Nerell is plant manager for Gourmet Trading Company, where about three hundred workers bundle and box fresh asparagus.

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Broadcast on Northwest News Network.