Olympia | KNKX

Olympia

A turreted brick home known as The Castle. A tan bungalow. An 111-year-old corner house with a covered porch.

Just south of the state Capitol building you’ll find a neighborhood dotted with quaint, historic houses. But you won’t find families with children in many of them.

Courtesy of the city of Olympia

Leaders in Olympia are trying to adapt to changing demographics and make room for an influx of new residents, but their plan is rankling some homeowners.

City leaders are considering changes to zoning across roughly two-thirds of the city that would allow for more of what they call "missing middle" housing in single-family neighborhoods.

"construction continues on the Olympia City Hall" by Jason Taellious is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2GEKBPv

Stemming a tide of homelessness on the West Coast is hard enough for major cities like Seattle, where coffers are full of tax revenue from technology companies and generous levies.

When you're running a smaller city like Olympia, where the budget is about one-fortieth the size of Seattle's, the task can be even harder. 

"Providence Saint Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington" by M.O. Stevens is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2EbUzai

An Olympia woman died after paramedics sedated her while she suffered an apparent mental health crisis early Wednesday morning, police said.

Officers encountered the 35-year-old woman as they responded to a fire alarm at an apartment building on Fern Street Southwest in West Olympia. Firefighters said the woman pulled the fire alarm at about 1:05 a.m.

Police said she was acting strangely, and believed her to be a threat to herself or others, so officers put her in hand restraints. 

Simone Alicea / KNKX

There aren't typically a lot of high school students in courtrooms. But a judge in Thurston County is bringing the court to them.

A few dozen juniors and seniors at Olympia High School recently gathered in a small theater to watch small claims court.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Big cities such as San Francisco, New York and Chicago offer a lot of health care options for transgender people, and Seattle has become a hub as well. There have been fewer options in the South Puget Sound and Southwest Washington, but that’s changing.

Olympia now has a clinic offering hormone treatment and surgery referrals. It’s called the Lilly Clinic at Providence St. Peter Family Medicine.

Heavily armed police officers found no evidence Wednesday morning of an active shooter on the Washington State Capitol Campus following a report of suspicious noises that sounded like gunshots. 

The entire campus in Olympia was put on lockdown at approximately 9:30 a.m. while officers armed with rifles searched a pair of buildings on the east campus that house the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Social and Health Services.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

An advocacy group will hold a public forum on Wednesday to talk about its proposal to levy a property tax to pay for affordable housing in Olympia.

The Home Fund is a project to encourage cities to dedicate funds for affordable housing around Thurston County.  

The group hopes to get a property tax levy on Olympia's November ballot to build 250 housing units over seven years. The tax would be 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and would raise about $2.2 million annually, according to The Home Fund.

SIMONE BOE

Activists say they're still ready to campaign for an income tax to fund college tuition in Olympia, despite a court ruling last week blocking the initiative from the ballot this Election Day.

The Opportunity for Olympia campaign has appealed the Aug. 24 decision, and leaders say they hope to get a hearing as early as Wednesday in the state's Court of Appeals. 

courtesy of Simone Boe

The Olympia City Council is trying to block an initiative that would create a city-wide income tax, which would be the first of its kind in the state. Now it’s up to the courts to decide whether voters will see it in the fall.

In the aftermath of last Friday's vote by the Republican-led Washington Senate not to confirm Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson, essentially firing her on the spot, an email went out to all staff at the Department of Transportation.

The Washington state Senate Wednesday morning failed to muster a two-thirds vote to suspend a voter-approved class size reduction measure. That could put a $2 billion hole in the freshly passed two-year budget.

Allen Pleus / Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife

A cold snap might be an effective tool for fish and wildlife managers trying to stop the spread of a tiny invasive species. Capitol Lake in Olympia is serving as a testing ground for freezing out New Zealand mud snails. 

Austin Jenkins

On Washington’s Capitol campus in Olympia, sandstone buildings stand as monuments to the rule of law. But just a few blocks away you can find a street culture where young adults and teenagers live by their own rules—sometimes with tragic consequences. An especially grisly murder last year revealed an underworld in Washington’s capital city that can sound almost like it belongs in “Lord of the Flies.”

Olympia has become the tenth city in Washington to ban disposable plastic bags from retail stores.

A unanimous vote from the Olympia City Council means starting in July, shoppers will have to bring their own reusable totes or pay 5 cents for a paper bag. Olympia joins nearby Tumwater and unincorporated Thurston County in enacting the ban.

Katrina Rosen, field director with Environment Washington, says the news is evidence of the growing movement spreading in the south Sound.

There are nearly 900 registered lobbyists in Washington state. These are the paid professionals who try to influence the outcome of the legislative process.

But this year, a determined dad proved even outsiders can play the legislative game with a bit of help.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s new governor touched a nerve with some Republicans in his inaugural address. On the topic of abortion Democrat Jay Inslee called on the legislature to pass the so-called Reproductive Parity Act. It would require health insurers that cover maternity services to also pay for abortions.

Inslee said, "Washington women need the freedom and privacy” to make their own health care decisions.

The Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington state is poised to develop the next wave of innovations that will change the world.

In prepared remarks for his inaugural speech Wednesday, Inslee cited the state's history of ideas in aerospace and software. He said Washington isn't done.

Inslee's first talk took an international focus, noting that the world economy is changing as it emerges from the recession. And he said the state must move swiftly to continue competing with the rest of the world.

Olympia police

Nine windows were broken at Olympia’s west-side police station early Wednesday morning, said police spokeswoman Laura Wohl.

Based on the patterns of the broken glass Wohl reasoned that a hammer or a similar tool was used to break the windows.

Currently no suspects, motives or leads have been identified, but the police suspect anarchists are behind the vandalism.

Stormy weather is not the best recipe for bird watching.

But that’s not stopping environmentalists from getting together in Olympia to set their legislative priorities.

And among the festivities celebrating the Washington Conservation Voters’  day of lobbying is the unveiling of a colorful new, hand-drawn bird-watching map.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The massive snow and freezing rain storm that pummeled the Pacific Northwest has caused a power outage at Gov. Chris Gregoire's office, legislative buildings and other state agencies in Olympia.

Masami Yamamoto / Courtesy JACL Olympia

Rallies, memorials and interfaith prayer gatherings are scheduled around Puget Sound today and through the weekend, as people gather in support of the victims of last week's earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan.

Michael D. Martin (flickr)

The former Olympia Brewery, in Tumwater, Wash., may join a handful of historic structures around Puget Sound that are finding new life as shopping or entertainment complexes. 

A Centralia developer bought the old brewhouse and a nearby warehouse last year, and now he's trying to put together a plan that will attract further financing.

Austin Jenkins / N3

Washington's legislature has hit the one-month mark. Budget writers say a deal is close at hand between the House and Senate to re-balance the current two-year spending plan. After that, attention will shift to the closing a multi-billion dollar shortfall in the next two-year budget.

Democrats in the Washington House of Representatives have a "One Washington" mantra. But a couple of Western Washington lawmakers are testing that East-West unity. Their issue? The flow of state tax dollars that go over the mountains.

Austin Jenkins / N3

Construction of Washington's new $300 million data center complex is expected to wrap-up this summer. But as state agencies prepare to move in, the rent per square foot is causing some sticker shock.

Washington lawmakers are singing the blues over the state’s budget woes. The legislature convenes Monday for a 105-day session. Once again, majority Democrats are confronted with a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

In the current budget year, the state of Washington is on track to pay 60-million dollars to settle damage and personal injury lawsuits filed against the state. That has some lawmakers alarmed, especially in light of the state’s multi-billion dollar budget crisis. Now, one state representative has an idea for a 9-11 style victims’ compensation fund.

John Froschauer / AP

The amount of money the state pays out in lawsuits has doubled in the last four years to more than $50 million dollars a year. This spike in legal costs comes as Washington reduces funding for education, healthcare and other state services. But cutting Washington’s legal bills is no easy task.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The State Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of the state’s formula for calculating how much money school districts get for special education classes.

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