Will James

South Sound Reporter

Will James covers the South Sound region, as well as housing and immigration issues, for KNKX. He came to the station from Newsday in his home state of New York. 

Ways to Connect

Will James / KNKX

Growing up Roma meant growing up fast -- and learning how to hustle. 

That's how Miller Steve describes it. He was raised in Tacoma's Roma community in the 70's and 80's, when it was a close-knit collection of families, all descended from a nomadic minority group in Europe

Will James / KNKX

In the fight for Tacoma's economic future, the battlefield is the city's tideflats. 

The sprawl of shipping cranes, oil tanks, manufacturing buildings, and rail lines is the gritty heart of city's industrial economy.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

One of the most powerful activist groups in Tacoma has changed its name after critics said the previous title was insensitive to people of color.

The group known as RedLine Tacoma is now Redefine Tacoma. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

They call it the "good immigrant, bad immigrant" narrative.

Undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers, have been held up and praised by politicians fighting to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

But some Dreamers say that praise draws an uncomfortable line between them and other undocumented people.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Hours after DACA recipients learned of the Trump administration's plan to phase out the program shielding them from deportation, some of them gathered for a rally in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood.

There, they began planning for the weeks and months ahead.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Trump administration plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

The Obama-era policy protects some young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The announcement does leave an opening for Congress to act. But it also means thousands of immigrants in Washington state could lose their legal status. 

Will James / KNKX

If you die, and nobody claims your body, it goes to your local county government.

Eventually, those cremated remains pile up, and it’s up to county officials to find them a resting place.

It's an oddly personal task for a local bureaucracy, and each one handles it differently.

Will James / KNKX

Plenty of folks around Yelm remember of this patch of land near the Deschutes River.

Few have longer memories than 94-year-old Earl Herness. 

Will James / KNKX

The Trump administration's ban on transgender troops is a blow to trans service members who were just getting used to greater official acceptance in the military, according to a soldier in Washington state.

Will James / KNKX

The City of Tacoma is three months into an emergency plan to address homelessness, estimated to cost $3.4 million by the end of the year.

On Tuesday, city leaders released some data showing how those efforts are working out. The numbers tell a story of successes and roadblocks.

John Simpson

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is marking 100 years of exerting its influence both locally and globally.

Camp Lewis opened in 1917 just south of Tacoma. It was initially a training ground for soldiers headed into World War I.

Will James / KNKX

Young undocumented immigrants are fighting to keep legal protections they gained under the Obama administration.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, shields some immigrants brought here as children from deportation.

Will James / KNKX

Voters in Burien will decide the fate of a local law designed to protect the city's undocumented population.

An initiative on the Nov. 7 ballot will ask voters whether they want to repeal the law, which prevents city staff and law enforcement officers from asking about a resident's immigration status or religious beliefs. 

Courtesy of Community to Community

Dozens of blueberry pickers in Whatcom County are protesting their working conditions after one of their colleagues fell ill and died.

About 70 workers at Sarbanand Farms, near the Canadian border in Sumas, walked off the job last week in protest, according to advocates helping the workers. 

Will James / KNKX

Leaders in Tacoma are months into a citywide effort to address homelessness. 

Their next step: Hiring an artist. 

City officials are conducting a nationwide search for Tacoma's first artist-in-residence. Whoever gets the job will work specifically on issues related to homelessness.

Courtesy of King County

Updated at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1. Original story follows update.

The Burien City Council ended a meeting Monday night without taking a critical vote on the future of a local law aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants.

By failing to vote, City Council members missed an Aug. 1 deadline to put a repeal of the immigration law on the November ballot.

Will James / KNKX

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a major military installation. But it's also like a city where about 60,000 service members, civilians, and contractors go to work every day. 

The garrison commander is like the mayor of that city. And the base just got a new one.

"Joe rises" by Jason Taellious is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2w1orBq

The Tacoma area leads the state in hospitalizations for conditions that may be preventable, such as complications from diabetes, a new study says.

The report, released this week by the state's Office of Financial Management, found two neighboring state legislative districts had the highest rates of hospital visits deemed "potentially preventable."

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Shannon Zawilski used to spend all day on her feet as a nurse in an intensive care unit, or ICU. 

Now, she spends her 12-hour shifts watching a screen.

She works in CHI Franciscan Health's virtual ICU in Tacoma, where she monitors the vital signs of dozens of the hospital system's most fragile patients. 

Will James / KNKX

Seattle's former mayors have a lot to say about today's city politics -- and today's traffic. 

Four ex-mayors and a former deputy mayor sat down for a talk Thursday evening at the Folio library  in downtown Seattle.

Combined, they ran or helped run Seattle for four decades. Some of them ran against each other.

"Mount Rainier from Murray Morgan Bridge" by SounderBruce is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2tIy7iZ

Pierce County is one of three places chosen for a test run of the 2020 U.S. Census.

Federal officials plan to test their methodology in a "dress rehearsal" of the 10-year population survey starting next month, said Kori Novy, who is managing Pierce County's test Census.

Will James / KNKX

Environmental activists are the most vocal group in Tacoma politics today.

That's a new development in a city known as a hub of heavy industry. But growing concerns about fossil fuels and pollution are already shaping the race for the next mayor.

Will James / KNKX

This segment originally aired February 18, 2017. 

The electronic data we use isn't as ephemeral as it seems. Our photos, videos, and email take up physical space in the world.

Patty Martin knows this. Some of it ends up outside her kitchen window. 

Martin lives in Quincy, a rural Washington town that happens to house vast chunks of the internet in gigantic data centers. 

Quincy, a town of about 7,000 people in a bowl of gentle hills, was known for food processing plants that turned potatoes into French fries.

Will James / KNKX

A fee that funds services for homeless people in Washington state is scheduled for a large cut in 2023. 

Washington residents pay the $58 document recording fee when they buy a home or perform other real-estate transactions.

In five years, it's scheduled to shrink by more than half, to $28. That means a cut of tens of millions of dollars statewide for anti-homelessness programs. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 Monday to pass a citywide income tax on high earners.

The 2.25-percent tax applies to annual income over $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a couple filing jointly.

Mayor Ed Murray supports the tax and is expected to sign it into law. 

The tax is scheduled to apply to income earned in 2018, though proponents say they expect a lawsuit that may delay its implementation. 

Legal experts view the city's legislation as a test case that may determine whether citywide income taxes are legal in Washington state.

"sad pug" by Matt Wiebe is licensed under CC by 2.0 https://bitly.is/1g3AhR6

If you have a dog or a cat in your Seattle apartment, you know monthly pet rent can cost $25, $35, or even $50 a month. 

Ballard Locks
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Rich Deline's love affair with the Ballard Locks started decades ago, as he walked the gardens as a forestry student at the University of Washington.  

It persists to this day. 

Will James / KNKX

The Trump administration’s travel restrictions are causing complications for refugees and groups that resettle them in the Seattle area.

"TASER" by cea + is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2tm3SSA

Tacoma City Council members voted Tuesday to lift an 11-year ban on electroshock weapons, including stun guns and Tasers.

The policy change came amid pressure from a gun rights group and doubts about whether the city's ban would hold up in court.

ALLIE FERGUSON / KNKX

The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to move forward with part of its travel ban while a court case is pending.

The decision came down Monday. This week, legal experts are scrambling to figure out what a partial ban means for immigrants and refugees headed to Washington state.

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