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Special report: KNKX Connects to Grays Harbor County with stories of people, business, history

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, WASH. — The narrative you often hear about this place is that it’s depressed, that the economy has not been kind. Indeed, that's part of the story. But there’s so much more. In this special presentation, we offer a broader picture of the area — the challenges facing residents here and the reasons they love calling it home. Included in our coverage are stories about government, business and history. 

:39 — First, South Sound reporter Will James introduces listeners the Rev. Sarah Monroe, a local Episcopal priest who practices "street outreach" at a homeless encampment in Aberdeen. Recently, the city purchased the site and has been requiring anyone living their or visiting to obtain permits. 

8:00 — Next, reporter Simone Alicea sits down at a coffee shop near City Hall with Erik Larson, Aberdeen's "millennial mayor" who was elected in 2015 at the age of 23. 

13:15 — Producer Geoffrey Redick initially took us into a shop that feels like it's in a galaxy far, far away. The owner, Don Sucher, isn't just a jovial Star Wars fanatic with a tatoo of Carrie Fisher's face on his left bicep. He's also a Kurt Cobain fan, and has a portion of his store dedicated to the late Nirvana frontman and Aberdeen native. 

All Things Considered host Ed Ronco tells us stories of two museums. He shows how a community is banding together to preserve what's left of the Aberdeen Museum of History, after a devastating fire destroyed artifacts and charred its historic home in June (14:51). And he sits down with John Larson, director of the Polson Museum in Hoquiam, to discuss the history of logging in Grays Harbor (34:45).

19:45 — Enrivonment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp pays a visit to Goose Point oyster farm. She shares her in-depth reporting on an ongoing fight between state regulators and oyster growers, over a pesticide used to control burrowing shrimp.   

26:25 — Arnie Martin, president of Grays Harbor Audubon Society, takes producer Geoffrey Redick on a walk through the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge — a safe harobor for shore birds looking for prey on the west end of Hoquiam.  

30:48 — Host Ed Ronco talks with Stephenie Reece, senior manager in the Timberland Library System. She manages the branch that hosted the KNKX Connects remote broadcast in Aberdeen on Nov. 29. 

37:30 — Ed Ronco's friend, Stefanie Ask, shows him around her childhood neighborhood in Hoquiam. She talks about loving a place she left behind, even when others might not

44: 05 — Finally, we take a look at two rival high schools who compete to see who can raise the most food and cash for the local food bank. Together this year, the schools raised more than $155,000 and some 13,000 pounds of food — in just 12 days. Host Ed Ronco interviews the student leaders behind "Food Ball."

KNKX Connects to Grays Harbor County was the fourth iteration of our regional remote broadcasts. So far, we've visited Port Angeles, the Centralia-Chehalis area, and Bellingham. Visit knkx.org/connects to hear all our stories. 

Kari Plog is an award-winning reporter covering the South Sound, including Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties. Before transitioning to public radio in 2018, Kari worked as a print journalist at The News Tribune in Tacoma.
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