University of Puget Sound

Freshman move-in day at Tacoma’s University of Puget Sound looks like you might expect.

Parents study maps under old, shady trees on this 128-year-old campus. Students wear their new keys on lanyards around their necks as they carry bags, pillows and blankets across bright green lawns toward their new dorms. There are hugs, greetings, introductions and a little crying, stifled and otherwise.

Union labels on Perma products

Recreational marijuana buyers in the south Puget Sound can now find products with a union label.

Perma, a Tacoma-based cannabis grower and processor, is the first recreational pot processor in the county to unionize. The workers have joined the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367. 

The process began in May when Perma founder Webb Bowie saw the union speak at a business event.

"I went to them and challenged them," Bowie said. "They didn't come knocking at my door."

Puget Sound Energy

Plans for a terminal that would make and store liquefied natural gas at the Port of Tacoma are moving closer to reality.  But there’s still a question of how the costs should be divvied up. 

Puget Sound Energy, the private utility hoping to build the plant, is in talks with state regulators over how to structure the corporate entity that would run the facility — essentially a chilled steel tank wrapped in three feet of concrete. 

CBS Television

In the decade leading up to World War II, “The Original Amateur Hour” was one of the most, if not the most popular radio programs in the country, showcasing unknown talent in a competition. The host and creator of the show was a man named Edward Bowes, known to his listening audience as Major Bowes. How did it all start? Well, he built it from the ground up - literally.


You might know Mandy Patinkin as CIA operative Saul Berenson on the Showtime television drama “Homeland.” Or maybe you know him as Inigo Montoya from the film “The Princess Bride.” But Patinkin’s career began on stage. He won a Tony for the role of Che in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Evita.” And he’s been a frequent presence on stage in the years since. 

SounderBruce / Flickr

Tacoma has a message for all the technology companies competing for space in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood: Look south.

On Wednesday, Tacoma will hold an economic showcase to sell the city as a good place for locating a business or developing property, and the man whose job it is to attract developers and executives to the city is Ricardo Noguera, community and economic development director for Tacoma. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Many of the West Coast’s top transportation innovators and policy experts are convening in Tacoma this week for the Green Transportation Summit and Expo. They’re looking at ways to cut back on emissions that harm public health and cause climate change. They're also showing off some of the newest equipment and alternative fuel technologies.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

In Tacoma, a Chinese-backed company has been seeking to build one of the world’s largest plants to convert natural gas to methanol, which would then be shipped to China to be used in making plastics.

After an intense public outcry, the company recently said it will pause the environmental review process, saying it has been “surprised by the tone and substance of the vocal opposition that has emerged in Tacoma.”

SounderBruce / Flickr

Tacoma workers will be entitled to a minimum wage of $10.35 starting Feb. 1, up from the state’s current wage floor of $9.47. It’s the first of several hikes that will gradually phase in a $12 minimum wage approved by voters in November.  

Puget Sound Energy

Plans for a liquefied natural gas facility at the Port of Tacoma are one step closer to reality, after the Tacoma City Council passed a resolution to move ahead on an agreement with the port about the project.

Puget Sound Energy says it needs a place to store natural gas and the way to do that is to chill it to a liquid form. So the company wants to spend $275 million to build the plant which would convert the gas to a liquid and then keep it on port property in a 140-foot-tall storage tank.

Patrick Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons

Tacoma voters have less than a month to decide whether to raise the city’s minimum wage, and if so, how much. Thursday evening, debaters at Pacific Lutheran University will give their best arguments in favor and against a $15 minimum wage.

Eino Sierpe / Flickr

Washington businesses that want to have a role in shaping minimum wage policies will get a chance to talk strategy this week. The Association of Washington Business is holding its annual policy summit, with one panel devoted to the hot-button issue of minimum wage hikes. 

Sound Transit Special Selection / Flickr

Tacoma’s municipal broadband service, Click Network, has long been a point of pride. But now city officials are wrestling with the future of Click because it’s losing cable TV customers and facing higher programming costs.

In the late 1990s, Tacoma invested heavily to create Click with the hope of spurring economic development, but it’s struggled in recent years.

AP Images

There's always interesting stuff in the news that gets overshadowed by the big stories. On Sound Effect we invite a panel a journalists to talk over their nominees for under-covered story of the week. 

AP Images

After a big public outcry, Seattle has scrapped a plan to allow a wider variety of housing types in areas zoned for single family homes.  But the idea is still alive in Tacoma, as the city considers changes to its comprehensive plan.

The proposal from Tacoma's Planning Commission would result in a mixture of lot sizes and home sizes, with some smaller houses such as cottages and detached mother-in-law units allowed.

People who want to live in a place with all of the amenities of a city but without Seattle’s housing prices are heading south. Real estate agents like Marguerite Giguere are noticing  the trend.

“They are people who would not be able to buy even a modest condo in Seattle and might have been looking to buy in places like Kent or Burien and then realize, ‘Wow, if I go to Kent or if I go to Burien, I’m going to be in a suburb.’”

I-5 Design and Manufacture / Flickr

Tacoma is ground zero for the state's next big minimum wage battle.

The city council voted 7-1 to put an initiative on the November ballot to hike the minimum wage in phases over the next three years, reaching $12 an hour in January 2018. After that, the minimum wage would rise every year at the rate of inflation.

Team Totem

A long-lost treasure of Tacoma’s past will come bursting to life on the big screen this fall, if enough money can be raised to make it happen.

The silent film, “The Eyes of the Totem,” made in Tacoma between 1925 and 1928, was recently found. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to bring the film, complete with newly composed music, to Tacoma’s Rialto Theater on September 18.

Scott Hingst / Flickr

Silicon Valley tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple have all been opening offices in Seattle in recent years.

Now, the City of Destiny wants in on the action. Tacoma recently paid $2,600 to run a quarter-page ad in the San Jose Mercury News, one of the biggest newspapers serving California's Silicon Valley, aimed at persuading tech companies that want to expand in the Pacific Northwest to look 35 miles south of Seattle.

Women who work at Dream Girls at Foxes, a strip club in Tacoma, don’t want Pierce County to release personal information about them. They say doing so would violate their right to privacy.

But the Pierce County auditor says Washington’s Public Records Act requires her to release information contained in the women’s business licenses on file with the county.

City of Tacoma

Tacoma is on the brink of more than doubling the length of its Sound Transit Link Light Rail line.

Under a plan just recommended by the Tacoma City Council, the current starter line between the Tacoma Dome and the city's downtown would extend north into the Hilltop neighborhood. 

Tacoma has been known as the “City of Destiny” for more than 140 years.

And while the city’s slogan is unique because it has lasted for so long (when was the last time you heard Seattle referred to as “Jet City?”), it also comes from a 19 Century “crazy person” who was a relentless promoter of Tacoma.

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

Evan Hoover / KPLU

No helmet laws, no liability — at least that’s the way the city of Milton sees it.

For insurance reasons, the Milton City Council last week repealed the section of city code, in place since 1997, that mandated people riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters and roller skates in public places wear helmets.

"We want to stress personal responsibility and expect people to use the skate park at their own risk," says City Administrator Subir Mukerjee. 

Tacoma city officials knew they had a gang problem, and a survey published this week has brought out new worries.

The survey, called The Tacoma Gang Project, found 651 active gang members and associates within the city. The survey also uncovered that gang recruitment happens as early as middle school. North of Tacoma, King County reports 10,000 gang members within 140 active criminal street gangs and an increase of 165 percent in gang related crimes.

“There is lots of gang activity up and down the I-5 corridor,” said King County Councilman Reagan Dunn.

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma police are investigating a motorcycle club whose parties twice have ended in shooting deaths during the past eight months.

If you live anywhere in the Puget Sound region you probably pay a small sales tax to support mental health services. The main exception is in Pierce County.

That may change, at least within Tacoma city limits.

A proposal in front of the Tacoma City Council would raise the sales tax by 1/10th of a percent, or a penny per $10 purchase. That’s the same as residents pay in King, Snohomish, Thurston and many other counties. The revenue would be dedicated to a broad array of services to assist people with serious mental illness or drug abuse problems.

Ambar Espinoza

In the mid-1990's, gang activity in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood was at an all time high. The area had become notorious for drug deals, assaults, and drive-by shootings. Gangs often recruited from schools - all the way down through the elementary grades.

It took a lot of effort by the police and community groups to turn the neighborhood around. One of the organizations that's made a difference is Hilltop Artists. It started out in those high-crime days by convincing kids who were attracted to "danger" to swap gang banging for another dangerous activity: glassblowing.

The Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. — After 15 years as an NFL quarterback, Jon Kitna hopes to return to his old high school in Tacoma as a coach.

TACOMA, Wash. — An alert Washington state teenager likely prevented an accident when he woke up a sleeping bus driver who had nodded off at the wheel while entering an Interstate 5 onramp in Tacoma.

A surveillance camera on the school bus recorded 17-year-old Emmanuel Williams jump from his seat and rush to the front of the bus after seeing the driver's head go down.