Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse, KPLU’s and N3’s Regional Correspondent, roves the Northwest to report on broad themes and telling details. His topics run the gamut from business to the environment and human interest. Home base is in Olympia, a legacy of a previously held state government beat from 1991-2003. Although he grew up in Seattle, Tom's radio career began by chance in Minnesota at Carleton College’s student radio station. Tom's memorable moment in public radio: "I am indebted to many people for tips and tutelage, but certainly some of the bluntest -- at times unprintable -- guidance came from NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg. I interned at NPR in 1989 and was privileged to keep Nina's chair warm at the U-S Supreme Court or at the high-octane Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North, wherever she wasn't at the time. Heady stuff for a tenderfoot reporter."

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Jobless Rate
4:08 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Unemployment Rate Holds Steady In Washington, Dips In Oregon

The unemployment rate in Washington state is holding steady at 6.4 percent, according to February’s numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Department.

State labor economist Paul Turek says an economy in growth mode is luring discouraged jobseekers off the sidelines and swelling the labor pool.

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Environment
9:24 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Tribes Push To Restore Salmon To Upper Columbia River

A pre-conference tour of Grand Coulee Dam on Monday kicked off a conversation about restoring salmon to the Upper Columbia Basin.
Tom Banse

Once upon a time, salmon and steelhead swam more than a thousand miles upriver to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, at the foot of the Rockies in British Columbia.

Those epic migrations ended in 1938 with the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

This week, tribes from both sides of the U.S.-Canada border along with scientists and policymakers are meeting in Spokane to figure out how Columbia River fish could be restored to their entire historical range. The idea draws passionate supporters, but has unknown costs that you might be asked to help pay.

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Politics
5:00 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Washington Among States Working To Negate Federal Food Stamp Cutbacks

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, a sign announcing the acceptance of electronic Benefit Transfer cards is seen at a farmers market in Roseville, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli AP Photo

Washington state policymakers are pondering whether to make an end run around looming cutbacks in the federally-funded food stamp program.

This would mimic what Oregon and three eastern states just decided to do.

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International Treaty
4:06 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Canada, U.S. Disagree Over Value of Columbia River Treaty Benefits

Mica Dam was completed north of Revelstoke, B.C., in 1973 to store spring and summer runoff on the Columbia River. It also generates power for BC Hydro.
DAR56 Wikimedia Commons

British Columbia has staked out a negotiating position on a cross-border water treaty that puts it at odds with public utilities and ratepayers in the U.S. Northwest. At issue is whether and how to renew the 50-year-old Columbia River Treaty.

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On Determination
1:53 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Seattle's Own Persevering Olympian Finds 'Life-Changing' Welcome In Peru

Peruvians surround Olympian Roberto Carcelen at the national soccer stadium in Lima after he delivered a pep talk.
Courtesy of Roberto Carcelen

A Peruvian-American Olympic cross-country skier is looking forward to a big welcome when he returns home to Seattle this weekend.

Seattle Olympian Roberto Carcelen finished dead last in his race at the Winter Olympics, but what happened to him afterward could illustrate the Gospel phrase that says "the last shall be first."

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Japanese Tsunami Debris
3:03 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Three Years Later, Where Did Japanese Tsunami Debris Go?

In this Dec. 21, 2012 file photo provided by the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, scientists inspect a dock that floated up on a remote stretch of wilderness beach in northwestern Washington.
AP Photo/Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Exactly three years have passed since a huge tsunami in March 2011 took thousands of lives in Japan and washed whole villages out to sea. Suspected tsunami debris started arriving on our shores the following December, but it's been less than feared.

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Paralympic Winter Games
3:12 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Legally-Blind Athletes Shoot Targets In Paralympic Biathlon In Sochi

Athletes and officials of United States enter the arena during attend the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Paralympics at the Fisht Olympic stadium in Sochi, Russia, Friday, March 7, 2014.
Dmitry Lovetsky AP Photo

A legally blind skier from Sun Valley, Idaho finished in 14th place in the opening biathlon competition at the Paralympic Winter Games over the weekend.

Rookie Paralympian Jake Adicoff missed multiple rifle targets to take himself out of contention in the 7.5 kilometer event held in Sochi, Russia. This combination of cross-country skiing and marksmanship unfolded on the same course used for the Winter Olympics last month.

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Paralympic Winter Games
12:08 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Five Disabled Athletes With Northwest Ties In Sochi For Paralympic Winter Games

Paralyzed veteran Sean Halsted trained for Sochi in Sun Valley last winter.
Tom Banse

American and European politicians are boycotting the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi to protest Russian moves in Ukraine. But disabled athletes from Washington, Oregon and Idaho plan to compete in the Olympic host city as scheduled starting this weekend.

Five athletes with ties to the Northwest qualified for the U.S. Paralympic Team and flew to Sochi this week. They're competing in downhill and cross-country skiing, biathlon and sled hockey. In addition, two sighted guides, one from Washington and one from Idaho, went to Sochi in tandem with the visually-impaired skiers from the region. 

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Winter Olympics
4:53 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Northwest Claims Another Medal, But It Comes In Heartbreaking Hockey Loss

Hilary Knight of the United States collides with Catherine Ward of Canada during the first quarter of the 2014 Winter Olympics women's ice hockey game at Shayba Arena, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
Petr David Josek AP Photo

More Olympic hardware is coming home to the Northwest, but it comes via a heartbreaking loss. 

Team Canada beat the U.S women’s ice hockey squad 3-2 Thursday in Sochi. That means the U.S teammates, including Hilary Knight of Sun Valley, receive silver medals.

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Daredevilry
9:34 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Two Teams Trying To Recreate Evel Knievel Canyon Jump On Anniversary

The rocket that Scott Record, left, and Scott Truax plan to use to recreate Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump is about 60 percent complete.
Tom Banse

Two teams want to reenact Evel Knievel's famous jump over the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. Only this time, the daredevils want to get all the way across. Their plans are tied to the 40th anniversary of the failed stunt coming up this September. 

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Winter Olympics
12:08 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Here's The Local Roller Rink Where Speedskating Olympians Got Their Start

Youth inline skaters line up to practice sprint starts at Pattison's West in Federal Way, Wash.
Tom Banse

At the winter Olympics in Sochi, the U.S. has collected no medals so far in speedskating, an uncharacteristic result. The Americans' best remaining hope for hardware rests with short track speedskater J.R. Celski and the men's relay team.

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Winter Olympics
4:50 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

How They Fared: Whitman Student Skis First Race At Olympics

Medals Ceremony in Olympic Park at Sochi, Russia.
Sarah Brunson U.S. Ski Team

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 1:29 pm

A college ski racer from Sun Valley, Idaho says she is "immensely relieved" just to finish her first Winter Olympic race in one piece.

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Winter Olympics
10:34 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Sun Valley Snowboarder Grabs Olympic Gold In Sochi

Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington
Sarah Brunson U.S. Snowboarding

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 9:46 pm

A snowboarder raised in Sun Valley, Idaho soared over better known and more experienced rivals to grab the gold medal in women's halfpipe at the Winter Olympics.

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Winter Olympics
2:49 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Idaho Snowboarder Grabs Northwest's First 2014 Olympic Medal

USA snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington (center) of Bellevue, Idaho won gold in the women's halfpipe on Wednesday.
Sarah Brunson U.S. Snowboarding

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 10:26 am

The Northwest has its first Olympic gold medal from the 2014 Sochi Games. Snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington of Bellevue, Idaho triumphed in the women's halfpipe Wednesday.

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Winter Olympics
1:31 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

U.S. Olympians Swathed In Northwest Wool For Opening Ceremony

Woolgrower Jeanne with the 2014 U.S. Olympic parade sweater.
David Nogueras OPB

When Team USA marched into the stadium for the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, they were swathed in the warmth of the Northwest, quite literally. The wool to make the U.S. parade uniform sweaters came from a sheep ranch in rural Oregon.

The Team USA sweater is a colorful patchwork of patriotic symbols and Olympic rings. The symbolism runs deeper for Oregon rancher Jeanne Carver. Her Imperial Stock Ranch sold the 8,000 pounds of homegrown wool to garment maker Ralph Lauren Corp.

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