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

Natural Disaster
12:06 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Weather Working Against Deadly Landslide Responders

WSDOT

Heavy rain in Friday’s forecast threatens to hinder ongoing search and recovery operations at the side of the catastrophic mudslide near Oso.

Mother Nature is just not cooperating with the hundreds of searchers and heavy equipment operators at the scene of Saturday’s deadly landslide.

Read more
Oso Slide
7:25 am
Fri March 28, 2014

At The Landslide Front Line, Comparisons To Mount St. Helens Devastation

Members of the Washington Air National Guard wade through mud and debris looking for signs of missing persons.
Spc. Matthew Sissel 122D PAOC Washington National Guard

A local fire chief is warning communities around the deadly landslide in northwest Washington to brace for a jump in the death toll Friday.

Meanwhile, fresh crews are rotating in to relieve exhausted first responders. Friday is the seventh day of the rescue and recovery mission at the place known in shorthand as “the pile.”

Read more
Natural Disaster
6:09 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Search Ongoing After Two More Bodies Recovered From Mudslide Debris

Teresa Welter cries as she holds a candle, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at a candlelight vigil in Arlington, Wash.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Emergency managers at the scene of Saturday’s deadly landslide near Oso say several hundred searchers will once again fan out over the debris field to look for victims on Wednesday. 

On Tuesday night, the local fire chief raised the death toll from 14 to 16, and said eight additional bodies have been located but not yet recovered.

Read more
Natural Disaster
1:08 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

County Officials Say Stricken Neighborhood Made Aware Of Landslide Risk

A searcher uses a small boat to look through debris from a deadly mudslide Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Oso, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

With the death toll expected to rise from Saturday’s catastrophic landslide near Oso, Snohomish County officials and emergency planners are starting to field hard questions about permitting home construction in a known landslide zone.

Read more
Cigarette Tax
8:00 am
Sun March 23, 2014

Study: Cigarette Tax Evasion Sky-High In Washington, Idaho Big Supplier

Tax Foundation/Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Nearly half of the cigarettes smoked in Washington went untaxed by the state, according to a new study by two think tanks.

The study compared actual legal sales in a state against the level you would expect to see based on its smoking rate. From that, researchers came up with a smuggling estimate. The study pegs low-tax Idaho as a major source of smuggled cigarettes.

Read more
Changing Season
1:25 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

On The First Day Of Spring, Outlook Predicts Warmer-Than-Usual Season

File image
Alex Brandon AP Photo

On this first day of spring, the seasonal outlook is calling for a warmer-than-average spring west of the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

The strongest signal to emerge from the Weather Service climate models foreshadows above-normal temperatures along the West Coast.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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."

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more

Pages