InvestigateWest, the Pamplin Media Group and the Agora Journalism Center are teaming up with high school students and others to investigate concussions among high school athletes. If you’re interesting in contributing to this effort please get in touch. We’d especially like to hear from high school students.
It might get a lot easier to see a doctor if two bills currently in front of the Washington Legislature are passed.
For Madeleine Fraley, the purple card is one small tool in her effort to maintain the dignity and quality of life of her husband of almost 53 years.
Despite broad agreement, the bill could be derailed over arguments over who gets to pick which toxic chemicals to ban in the future.
| With FairWarning
On a July afternoon in New Orleans last year, Philip Geeck was riding his bicycle in a marked bike lane on a busy street. Approaching an intersection, he came up alongside a tractor-trailer truck hauling a tank of chemicals. Geeck, 52, was at the 18-wheeler’s midpoint when suddenly, without signaling, the truck began to turn right, witnesses say. Victor Pizarro was driving nearby and watched in horror as the scene unfolded. He saw a look of confusion on Geeck’s face as the trailer came toward him.
| With KING 5 Television
After the school building was featured in several 2013 stories by KING 5 and InvestigateWest, Seattle Public Schools paid Veritox $35,000 to study whether traffic pollution could harm students and staff.
The story of Art and Sue Martin matters because increasingly Oregonians will have to pay to care for an aging population where Alzheimer’s and dementia are on a sharp uptick. Right now in Oregon, nearly 60,000 adults suffer from Alzheimer’s. By 2025, that number is set to jump to 84,000 — almost two percent of the population. Yet senior centers, an important provider of services to older adults and a local link to state and federal safety net programs, are frequently unprepared to serve people with Alzheimer’s and the family members who care for them.
| With EarthFix
Take a listen to Ashley Ahearn’s reporting as she first tells about the problems associated with aging portables and then how some schools in the Pacific Northwest are turning to new and better models.
Third-grade teacher Nancy Avery helps her class during reading time. Avery taught in a portable classroom for 27 years. This is her first year inside a brick-and-mortar building at Jefferson Elementary in Spokane, Washington. Photo: Courtney Flatt/EarthFixSPOKANE, Wash. — Teachers at Spokane’s Jefferson Elementary don’t have to look far to know what they left behind.The school’s old portable classrooms sit just a block away from their brand new building. It was in those portables where for nearly 30 years, Nancy Avery made the choice between fresh air and listening to her students, when she’d routinely switch off the noisy ventilation system that drowned out their voices.It was in the school’s 14 portables where students and teachers were sick far too often, she said. Several teachers contracted skin reactions, she said, that have dissipated since the move to the new building.No longer does Avery worry about water leaks and ceiling stains. No more will the hot, stuffy box lull her students during standardized testing.But most of all, there’s no more smell. That’s what she and the others notice most.“Those portable classrooms don’t have a masonry foundation at all, so you just have dirt underneath — so it smells a lot better in this new building,” Jefferson Elementary Principal Mary-Dean Wooley said. “That moldy, earthy smell is absent completely.”In September, Jefferson Elementary’s new $25-million campus eliminated the need for portables. Built with enough space to accommodate future enrollment growth, Wooley said the school shouldn’t need them any time soon.
Workers at Blazer Industries push a half-built portable classroom out the door of the modular building manufacturing plant in Aumsville, Oregon. Photo: Cassandra Profita/EarthFixAUMSVILLE, Ore. – After affixing the roof to the walls, five workers push a half-built classroom out the door of the Blazer Industries manufacturing plant. Clearly, this is a portable classroom.It’s one of about 130 portables Blazer has been contracted to build this year. Most will go to overcrowded schools in Washington state, and most will be built in four to seven days. Inside this warehouse, the company has built entire schools, churches, hospitals and high-end homes — one truckable piece at a time.Blazer’s customers can choose what kind of buildings they want. They can order upgraded heating and ventilation systems and non-toxic building materials to improve the indoor air quality and reduce health risks, company engineer Rock Shetler said. But those options cost a lot more.“The biggest thing with classrooms is really the budget of the school districts,” he said. “When the budget only allows the cheapest materials and the cheapest products, that’s really what it comes down to.”The state of Washington says the cheapest materials aren’t good enough for new schools. It requires new school buildings to meet a long list of environmental conditions to qualify for state construction funds under the Sustainable School Protocol.“Merely complying with minimum codes during design and installation will not ensure good indoor air quality,” the state says in the protocol.But those rules don’t apply to portable classrooms. For portables, Washington offers recommendations, not requirements.
| With EarthFix
“It’s dark. It’s dank. And when it’s that kind of an atmosphere, it sets a tone for your meetings or for your classroom. It doesn’t feel very welcoming. It’s not a good place to be.”