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."

Pages

Killer Whales
7:18 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Mystery surrounds bruised and bloody killer whale carcass

Necropsy team including personnel from Portland State University, Seaside Aquarium, Cascadia Research, Seattle Seal Sitters and WDFW.
Dyanna Lambourn WDFW

The bruised and bloody carcass of an endangered killer whale washed ashore at Long Beach, Wash., this weekend. An initial necropsy did not pinpoint a cause of death.

Read more
Environment
12:02 am
Mon February 13, 2012

Researchers on hunt for killer whales' winter hideout

A porpoising juvenile transient orca. Photo by Richard Dudley/Flickr

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 5:45 pm

This week , federal biologists will cast off on a research cruise from NOAA's new homeport in Newport, Oregon. They hope to crack an enduring mystery about some of the most studied killer whales on earth. Namely, where do the Northwest's resident orca whales go in the winter?

Every winter, the three pods of orca whales that call Northwest waters home just disappear into the wild blue yonder. Research biologist Dawn Noren and colleagues from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center are about to embark on a three-week mission to find them.

Read more
Native names
9:41 am
Tue February 7, 2012

Is it time to rename Mount Rainier to its former native name?

Mount Rainier would become Tahoma, Tacobeh, Pooskaus or Tacoma.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

ROY, Wash. – Mount Rainier was once known by its many native names. Now, an alliance of tribal members is moving forward with a proposal to restore an original name to this Northwest landmark. But a long bureaucratic process lies ahead.

Read more
Economy
11:43 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Tentative labor deal averts Western Wash. refinery strikes

ConocoPhillips oil refinery at Cherry Point, Wash. Photo by Tom Banse

Originally published on Wed February 1, 2012 2:37 pm

The United Steelworkers union has reached a tentative deal with oil companies to avert a possible strike at dozens of refineries, including three important ones in the Northwest.

Negotiations over a new labor contract for refinery workers concluded mere hours before a late night deadline. The United Steelworkers and Shell Oil announced a tentative three-year deal that's intended to set the pattern for local agreements at unionized refineries nationwide.

Read more
Labor contracts
2:43 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Oil refineries in Western Washington face possible strike

Bargaining is going down to the wire on new labor contracts at three of the five big oil refineries in the Northwest. Union members have been told to prepare to strike as early as Wednesday.

Read more
Budget crisis
4:43 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Two credit rating agencies warn Washington state over budget

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Two credit rating agencies have delivered a warning to the State of Washington to get its financial house in order. The ratings agencies lowered the outlook for Washington state debt, citing the magnitude of the budget shortfall.

Read more
Law
12:41 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Final suspect in ecosabotage attack at UW pleads guilty

TACOMA, Wash. – The final suspect in a 2001 Earth Liberation Front arson attack in Seattle plead guilty Tuesday. Justin Solondz, 32, reached a plea deal with the government. A federal judge in Tacoma has approved a deal that could give Solondz a 7-year prison term.

Read more
Community
9:35 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Creativity at work to spur holiday fundraising

Donors peruse the wares at the 2011 Alternative Giving Market in Moscow, ID.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

With the year-end approaching, your letter carrier likely delivers at least one or two fundraising letters with each day's mail. You're not alone if you toss some of those pitches straight into the recycle bin. It's a tough fundraising environment right now for charities here on the heels of the great recession.

Read more
Business
9:13 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Person-to-person car rental company expands to northwest

The first of a new breed of car rental companies is expanding into the Northwest. Next month, San Francisco-based Getaround officially launches its web-based rental service in the greater Portland area.

The concept is sometimes called peer-to-peer car rental or personal car sharing. The idea is to let you rent your car to someone else when you're not using it. Several companies have sprung up in California to provide the online marketplaces to link up car owners with pre-screened renters.

Read more
Returning from Iraq
11:10 am
Wed December 7, 2011

Final wave of NW soldiers welcomed home from Iraq

Keicher Singleton Jr. awaits his dad from a six month deployment to Iraq.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

As of this morning, there are fewer than 100 Northwest-based soldiers serving in Iraq. A plane carrying the final large group of returning soldiers touched down at McChord Field near Tacoma at dusk Tuesday. 

The sweetest words for 170 Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers and their families: "Captain, dismissed!"

Read more
Environment
4:53 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Feds target wood stove smoke

This is just the kind of wood-burning equipment the government is worried about.
Northwest News Network

TACOMA, Wash. – The cold nights we've been having are leading people to fire up their wood stoves and fireplaces. This also means we're in the season of the dirtiest air of the year in the Northwest.

Wood stoves are one of the biggest – if not the biggest – contributor to this problem in our area. Clean air agencies are going to greater lengths to pry old, polluting, uncertified wood stoves out of the fingers of homeowners.

Read more
Environment
5:36 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Electric car drivers eschew public charging stations

OLYMPIA, Wash. - You've probably seen plum parking spots set aside for electric cars, maybe even shaken your fist at an empty space. More than a thousand Northwest drivers have hit the road this year with the first mass market electric cars.

Many of them are letting researchers electronically track their charging and driving behavior. That data shows more than 80% of electric "fill ups" are happening not at those public charging points, but at home.

Read more
Court Martial
9:43 am
Thu November 10, 2011

War crimes case expected to go to jury

The judge in a high profile war crimes court martial is expected to send the case to the jury today. Closing arguments are now complete in the case against Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs. He's accused of orchestrating the deaths of unarmed Afghan civilians.

Army prosecutor Major Robert Snow told the military jury their decision should not be difficult. His precise closing words: "Let your verdict speak the truth that Staff Sgt. Gibbs is a murderer."

Read more
Condit Dam Removal
11:16 am
Thu October 27, 2011

Big bang at dam launches hopes for salmon and kayakers

In this photo provided by PacifiCorp., a hole is breached in the century-old Condit Dam on the White Salmon River near White Salmon, Wash., on Wednesday.

WHITE SALMON, Wash. – Southwest Washington's White Salmon River is running free this morning for the first time in a century.

demolition contractors executed their plan flawlessly yesterday to blast a hole in the base of an aging hydropower dam. Condit Dam is the third large Northwest dam to meet the wrecking ball this year.

Read more
Dam removal
1:22 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Demolition crew rigs explosives on aging Washington dam

Condit Dam
D. Kvamme PacifiCorp

Update: Watch the explosion and dam breach.

WHITE SALMON, Wash. – Demolition experts are rigging 700 pounds of dynamite today at Condit Dam in southwest Washington. Crews are scheduled to breach the aging hydropower dam on the White Salmon River around noon Wednesday.

Read more

Pages