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Other News

Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

Cindy Healy (right) stands with friend and fellow engineer Becky Manning Mitties in the NASA clean room.
Courtesy of Cindy Healy

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

It may have not completely hit Cindy Healy, a former NASA engineer, until she was sitting in the theater watching the Matt Damon movie, "The Martian." 

"And I'm trying hard to suppress an audible sob because I know I am the only one crying at this part of the movie," she said. "And I'm just wiping away tears and my son looks at me like I'm crazy. And I lean over to him and I whisper 'that's my spacecraft.'"

Our hero, suiting up for the water.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

It’s 1985 — think New Coke and “We Are the World” — and little 8-year-old Gabe is shivering on the tile floor next to Jewish Community Center swimming pool in Canton, Ohio. I’d just wrapped up my “Advanced Beginners” swim class, and was lined up with the other kids awaiting our Red Cross cards. That card would be my ticket to the next class: Intermediate. 

Courtesy of Ty Reed

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

By his own account, Ty Reed is gainfully employed, has the love of his friends and family, and is a productive member of society. But less than five years ago, he was a homeless drug addict and petty criminal. 

It wasn't supposed to be that way. Growing up, he says, his family was "like the Huxtables," and in 2006, he was a successful mortgage professional. But an addiction to crack and — later — methamphetamines turned him into "a down and out homeless person" by 2014.

Paul Currington as a boy.
Courtesy of Paul Currington

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

Sitting in an emergency room, trying to catch his breath, Paul Currington had one thought playing over and over in his mind: “Please, God, please don’t let my last thoughts on Earth be of my mother.”

They weren’t his last thoughts, especially of his mother.

Growing up, Currington’s mother smoked two to three packs a day — always enveloped in clouds of smoke. She had a volcanic temper, he says: “I would do anything to not have to go home so I wouldn’t have to show up in her crosshairs.”

Queen Mae Butters

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

Queen Mae Butters was panting her way up six flights of stairs, just about ready to turn around and find someone else to take the job.

"Then I hear Rose's twangy New York accent encourage me from above: 'You're going to make it nurse! You're almost here! Keep climbing!'" Butters said. 

A protester raises a fist in the air during a peaceful arts march in Seattle this week.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Audio Pending...

It's been about a week since protests began in Western Washington over the death of George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis. The events of the past several days have brought up pain and anger, and a lot of reckoning.

Our reporters have heard chants, watched marches and listened to the voices of protesters, police and politicians. Listen back to some of what KNKX has gathered over the last week — the sounds of communities in our area that have had enough.

A friend of Manuel Ellis, who died in the custody of Tacoma police in March, holds a sign demanding justice after Ellis' death was ruled a homicide. Four officers involved are now on leave.
Will James / KNKX

Nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis are hitting home especially hard in Tacoma, after the Pierce County medical examiner ruled the death of Manuel Ellis a homicide. In March, Ellis died in handcuffs while Tacoma police restrained him. The cause of death was respiratory arrest. 

Jamika Scott is an organizer who has worked with Ellis' family to bring attention to his death. 

Marchers gather outside Seattle City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


Thousands marched peacefully from Seattle’s Capitol Hill to City Hall on Wednesday, chanting demands to “defund the police.” The demonstrators gathered at Cal Anderson Park, the site of repeated clashes with police over the past several nights, and made their way through the neighborhood toward downtown Seattle.

The Seattle arts community gathered Tuesday for a peaceful march protesting police brutality and systemic racism, after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Members of the arts community in Seattle are joining in the protests against the killing of George Floyd. Hundreds gathered Tuesday near the Seattle Opera House.

As musicians, painters, actors and others chanted “Black Lives Matter,” cars and trucks drove by honking their support.

Seattle Central College president Sheila Edwards Lange leads a tour of the college's buildings on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. Seattle Central is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Last week, as protests began to unfold following the death of George Floyd, the president of Seattle Central College sent out a tweet.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington state health officials say they’re watching carefully to see whether crowded protests will contribute to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Heath Secretary John Wiesman says, in general, outdoor activities are less risky than indoor ones. But he says anything that brings people close together for long periods is concerning.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

We are a country wracked by illness, by economic crisis, and by tears in our social fabric that have existed all along, but are too gaping to ignore, once again. 

How do we think about these twin emergencies — the pandemic, and the spasm of grief and anger over racism and police violence? What lessons could history possibly teach us about such an unprecedented situation?

Black church leaders gather on the streets of Tacoma to pray for their community's fight against COVID-19 and the "virus" of racism.
Will James / KNKX

As protests raged across the country over the weekend, dozens of black church leaders in Tacoma gathered on street corners to pray.

The event had been planned to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, but it took on new meaning amid nationwide unrest over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. KNKX’s Will James attended the event to talk with those faith leaders and record their remarks.

Volunteers and city workers clean up in Seattle's Chinatown-International District following a weekend of protests that ended with vandalism.
Will James / KNKX

Seattle's Chinatown-International District teemed with volunteers and city workers Sunday. They were trying to undo some of the damage in a neighborhood hit hard by vandalism during the weekend's protests.

Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

This show originally aired on June 8, 2019.

toilet seat up in a public bathroom
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

It all started with a raised toilet seat in The Stranger's editorial department bathroom. 

In this photo taken on Thursday, April 26, 2018, a woman in a wheelchair passes a Pit Stop in San Francisco. The Pit Stop program provides public toilets, sinks, used needle receptacles and dog waste stations in San Francisco's most impacted neighborhoods
Ben Margot / The Associated Press

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

Seattle, like many other cities, commonly deals with people going to the bathroom in public spaces.  If you are someone who does not have access to shelter, finding a safe place to go to the bathroom in Seattle is especially difficult.

In fact, work by the Seattle Auditor’s Office revealed just how limited bathrooms are citywide: six publicly funded bathrooms are available for use 24/7, said City Auditor David Jones. And of the bathrooms available, few were usable.

A remote toilet on a hiking trail near Mount Baker.
Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

In 1989, a young woman named Kathleen Meyer published a book called "How to Shit in the Woods."

For a book whose name can't be said on the radio, it has done very well. The book is now in its third edition, with 2.5 million copies sold. Meyer says it has been found on a coffee table in a nunnery, at a bed and breakfast in Scotland, and in the library at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. 

A brand-new toilet set-up at an ecampment near Interstate 90 and Rainier Avenue.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

Mark Lloyd pops his trunk and pulls out his supplies: kitty litter, a small military surplus tent, toilet paper, sanitizer and a 5-gallon plastic bucket, complete with toilet seat.

This is the rudimentary toilet set-up that Mark has been assembling and delivering to homeless encampments for about three years now. He guesses he’s given away between 75 and 100.

“It's something people need, and I can fill it,” he says. “You really can only do good when you provide people a more sanitary situation than they were.”

You won't find a colony of alligators in a sewer like this one. It would be "a completely inhospitable environment in the first place," says Snopes.com founder David Mikkelson.
Sean Havey / The Associated Press

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

No, Thomas Crapper didn’t invent the modern flushing toilet. Airplanes don’t directly dump “blue ice” and human waste from 30,000 feet. And alligators can’t thrive in a New York City sewer.

These are some of the abundant toilet myths that have circulated across the internet and beyond.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington has faced and met unprecedented demand for food assistance. The economic crisis brought on by the new coronavirus caused the number of people in Washington seeking food assistance to double overnight, starting in early March.

It’s now almost 2 million, according to a new report from the state’s largest independent hunger relief agency, Northwest Harvest.

Wikimedia Commons

One size does not fit all. That's the message from the mayors of Sumner and Bonney Lake, neighboring communities in eastern Pierce County with a combined population of about 31,000 people. They wrote a joint letter to Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month asking for a little more leeway in the state's phased reopening plan, especially for small businesses in their communities.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

In many ways, “family planning” is a misnomer. The “planning” part only goes so far. Even with all the tools at your disposal, a lot of it is mostly out of your control and up to chance. A million little things have to go exactly right to bring life into the world. 

When you throw a global pandemic into the equation, the typical uncertainty that comes with starting a family is amplified to tremendous proportions. 

In this episode of Transmission, we explore how the response to COVID-19 has altered the lives of growing families. 

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, pregnant Somali women had a special need for care. Whether in Somalia or in the diaspora, Somali women are a high-risk subpopulation for maternal health.

Courtesy Kari Plog

When my husband, Christian, and I talked about starting our family, we knew only so much would be within our control. But we never imagined just how out of our control everything would get.

A tree is embedded in the ground with Mount St. Helens in the background as seen from the Hummocks Trail, Monday, May 18, 2020
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Hitting the hiking trail and spending a night at the theater are two pastimes many people in the Pacific Northwest enjoy. But they don’t often do so simultaneously.

A new festival of short plays, called “Finding Trails,” aims to bring these disparate worlds together.

Wearing a face mask, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment also known as The Old Guard, places flags in front of each headstone for "Flags-In" at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, May 21, 2020
Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press

It's fair to say that this Memorial Day is unlike most that have come before. For one, there won’t be the usual parades or ceremonies.

Those rituals can be of great comfort to many who are coping with loss on Memorial Day, especially people in or connected to the military.

KNKX spoke with Lt. Col. Jason Nobles, deputy chaplain for First Corps, based at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma.

Courtesy of J.J. Harrison

This show originally aired on June 1, 2019.

This story originally aired on June 1, 2019.  

In 2018, Seattleite Chris Jeckel decided it was time to visit Tokyo. He had just ended a four-year relationship, and he was struggling to find his footing again. Tokyo seemed like the perfect place, he said, to "shake things up."

Jennifer Wing


This story originally aired on June 1, 2019.

Sheree Cooks is a 37-year-old working mom of three. She’s been a leader of parent teacher groups in Tacoma. She gives talks to school administrators about race and equity, and she co-founded the nonprofit Eastside Community Action Network.