Rebecca White/SPR

As school districts navigate their second year of pandemic-era instruction, school boards of directors are facing escalating hostility.

The increased attention has ranged from more participation at school board meetings, to harassment, to threats and intimidation.

Education leaders are calling for patience and civility.

Debbie Long has served on the Central Valley School Board since 2003. She says in 18 years, she’s presided over contentious issues, but none as divisive as masks and coronavirus vaccinations.

Courtesy of the Federal Food and Drug Administration

Washington State employees and contractors will soon be at a crossroad: get the coronavirus vaccine or lose their jobs.

That mandate was issued by Governor Jay Inslee during a surge in hospitalizations fueled by the Delta variant, and a slowdown in vaccinations.

Monday, Oct. 4 was the last day to get the vaccine in time to meet the governor’s Oct. 18 deadline, if a worker gets the Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose shot.


The refrain “paper or plastic” will still be heard at your local supermarket, but starting today the plastic bags will be a lot sturdier.

The ban was approved in 2020 by the Washington State Legislature, but its implementation was delayed at the start of the pandemic.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

A slate of environmental groups are asking Governor Jay Inslee to appoint new, reform-minded leadership at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The requests come in the wake of an audit that recommends cultural changes.

In a letter sent Wednesday, a dozen environmental groups called on Inslee to fill two positions in the nine-member commission that leads the state agency.

Washington, Idaho Gain Residents In 2020 Census

Aug 13, 2021
Courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau

New census figures show the population continues to grow in Washington and Idaho and most of their cities and counties. Here's a quick look at the numbers.

This weekend air quality in the Spokane area reached unhealthy levels due to wildfire smoke. This summer air quality in Okanogan County briefly was the worst in the world due to wildfires.


A college student in Spokane is one of a handful of vaccinated people across the state to win a $250,000 prize for getting a shot.

In a news conference Thursday, the winner, only identified by the Governor’s Office as Marissa P, addressed the public alongside Governor Jay Inslee.

“Well like he said, my names Marissa, I’m from Spokane, I’m pre-nursing and I’m so honored to be here, I feel so blessed to be here. I just want to say stay healthy, stay safe and go get vaccinated.”

Vaccine shot
Flickr / US Army Corps of Engineers

As Washington state’s vaccination rate approaches 70%, many more rural counties are lagging behind. Health officials are hoping trusted relationships with physicians will close that gap.

Governors Inslee, Little Say Idaho And Washington Nearing COVID-19 Goals

Jun 10, 2021

More than two-thirds of Washington residents 16 and older have had at least their first COVID shots. That puts the state just four percentage points away from 70%, the goal Governor Jay Inslee established to reopen the state before June 30.

Here's one small item that shows state officials are worried about wildfires. The Department of Natural Resources says people may, temporarily, no longer use two of its properties in Stevens County as shooting ranges. They're worried shooters could spark fires in the dry conditions there.

Flikr Creative Commons

Cannabis stores in Washington can now offer in store vaccines, with a complimentary joint.

According to a Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board news release, the “Joint for Jab” program goes from Monday until July 12. People getting a first or second vaccine dose at a vaccine clinic in a pot shop will be eligible for one pre-rolled joint.

The program is only for people 21 or older, and does not include any other cannabis products.


Washington State will offer lottery drawings and other prizes for people who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a press conference Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee said the prizes, which include money, gaming systems, tuition and tickets to sporting events, will encourage immunization.

Inslee: Washington Economy Can Re-Open June 30

May 13, 2021
Courtesy of Governor's Office

Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the economy can fully re-open on June 30, or whenever 70% of the state’s eligible population has had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

Washington State Department of Health

Several government and private providers in the Northwest have paused use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine effective immediately after six women who had received the vaccine developed blood clots.

According to a Washington state Department of Health news release, the vaccine will be on hold until the state receives recommendations from the FDA and CDC.

Flickr - Forest Service Northern Region

In the summer of 1910 - 115 years ago this week - weather and forest conditions were eerily similar to those gripping us now = an early, dry spring, little snow runoff, gaspingly hot temperatures and extreme drought. And hundreds of wildfires suddenly merged into the most voracious fire storm ever.

Biologists Get All the Opinions They Can Bear

Jun 15, 2015

A sure-fire way to spark lively opinions in Washington State is to ask about wolves, or right now, grizzly bears. The National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife did just that to find out about public perceptions of a bear restoration proposal.

Campgrounds Quarantined Because of Sick Trees

May 19, 2015

A couple of popular public campgrounds - one in Idaho and one in Washington - are out of commission for the entire year for an unusual reason --- sick trees above both campsites.

Some huge budgetary holes have been filled for scores of rural counties in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Under a newly revived Secure Rural Schools funding program, counties which are home to national forests - land exempt from taxation by local governments - will get in-lieu of tax funds from the federal government.

Trout Stocked for Washington Fishing Season

Apr 15, 2015

For Washington anglers, spring has nothing to do with the equinox or cherry blossoms - it's all about the first day of the lowland lakes fishing season. The starting gun for the six-month lowland lakes fishing season fires on April 25 when hundreds of thousands of Washington anglers start going after catchable trout - mostly rainbows - and kokanee salmon.

Farmers who depend on irrigation in the arid central Washington region are escalating a fight over increasingly  scarce water supplies. A group of farmers called the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association has filed suit against the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Leaders in Washington are noting a recent uptick in acts of violence against minority and religious groups. Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee condemned acts of intolerance in the state during a news conference.

In the last month, Hindu temples in Bothell and Kent found hateful graffiti on their buildings, as did a school in Bothell near a Muslim temple. Violence against the lesbian, gay, and transgender community in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood is on the rise - up 14 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the police department.

If most gasoline stations didn't have electronic price signs, they'd probably have to hire people just to keep track of fuel prices that yo-yo daily. The average price for a gallon of self-serve unleaded gasoline in Washington has jumped 37 cents this week alone. And it's up 74 cents on average in the past month.

In Coeur d' Alene, just east of the state line, prices are a bit lower than in Washington - anywhere from $2.00 and a couple of pennies to about $2.15 a gallon. But the cost has jumped more than 60 cents a gallon just in the past month or so.

Gray Wolf stock photo
USFWS: Tracy Brooks / USFWS Flickr

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the U-S Department of Agriculture Tuesday over killing wolves in Washington state. The state is home to 13 packs, which threaten livestock in some communities.

Wolf Lawsuit Prompted by Alpha Female Kill in 2014

Mar 3, 2015
Flickr user USFWS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/sets/72157644568160740/

The lawsuit against the USDA’s Wildlife Services program stemmed from a wolf kill last year. The Western Environmental Law Center sued the federal program yesterday. Gray wolves are endangered statewide according to Washington’s listing, but only endangered in western Washington by federal standards. That leaves jurisdiction of the eastern third of the state up to state officials.

Law makers in Olympia are hoping to find a way to bring the grey-area medical marijuana dispensaries into the current legal recreational system. Outgoing liquor control board member Chris Marr is offering his opinion on some aspects of what needs to be done.

East-Side Towns Pine for Washington Liquor Revenue

Jan 13, 2015
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Spokane and nearby towns want their share of the state’s liquor and marijuana revenue. Monday, east-side mayors announced they are sending their request to lawmakers this week. When liquor sales went private in Washington, cities still received liquor tax revenue. But in 2012 lawmakers voted to keep most of the liquor tax revenue in the state’s budget. 

Spokane Mayor David Condon says cities need it more. He says the state has redirected more than $200 million in liquor revenue that originally was meant for cities.

The Washington department of Agriculture has now confirmed the Avian flu virus in a domestic flock of chickens in Benton County in South central Washington. The avian flu was first detected in wild birds in Washington state a couple weeks ago, and has now been confirmed in a small flock of chickens, ducks and turkeys near the town of Benton City.

The new year will mean higher pay for low-wage workers in Oregon and Washington. The minimum wage in both states is set for an increase.

Flickr user USFWS: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/sets/72157644568160740/

Washington State Fish and Wildlife officials say they believe a wolf or wolves are responsible for the death of 3 sheep in Whitman county. The killings happened north of the Town of Lamont near the Whitman/Lincoln county line. This marks the first time wolf attacks have occurred in this region in decades.