Jessica Robinson

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to racial tolerance in small towns, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping communities east of the Cascades.

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network team, Jessica was the news director of Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon, where she produced a newsmagazine on Northern California and Southern Oregon. In 2010, she took a year to study Spanish in central Mexico and reported for an English–language newspaper in San Miguel de Allende. Jessica's stories for radio and print have earned awards from the Associated Press, the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, and Public Radio News Directors Inc.

A Northwest native, Jessica grew up in an off–the–grid log cabin in the Columbia River Gorge. These days, when she's not agonizing over the perfect piece of tape, Jessica enjoys camping and hiking, amateur photography, and learning the etymology of words.

More than 300 people turned out Thursday in Spokane for the burial of World War II veteran Delbert Belton. The 88-year-old was robbed and beaten to death last week while he waited in his car.

Scores of veterans turned out to honor Belton at a cemetery in west Spokane. Friends and family remember a man who loved to repair cars by day and go out dancing at night, and went by the nickname Shorty.

The service also drew many people in Spokane who never knew Belton, but, like Karen Schute, felt compelled to be there.

The same weather patterns that are making the Rim Fire a challenge for firefighters in California have been moving up through parts of the Northwest. Specifically, through central Idaho. Fire managers say the forests there are ripe for fire, and more lightning is in the forecast this week.

The fact that massive fires are raging both in California and in Idaho is no coincidence, according to Robyn Broyles. She's with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

Police have arrested the second teenager accused of beating to death an 88-year-old World War II vet in Spokane. The two 16-year-old males have been charged with first degree robbery and first degree murder in case that's attracted national attention.

Delbert Belton was beaten beyond recognition while he waited in his car outside the Eagles Lodge in north Spokane last week. Belton, known as "Shorty" to his friends, served in the Army and had survived injuries in the battle of Okinawa.

Washington's most famous ferries are in Puget Sound. But another, inland ferry operated by the state has been quietly shuttling cars across the Columbia River since 1948. And Wednesday, that ferry crossing got a badly needed update.

No new boat ceremony would be complete without breaking a bottle over the bow. But it took a few tries to actually break this bottle.

The FBI is hoping a more detailed timeline and newly released video will revive a stalled investigation into a serial killer suspected of 11 murders -- four of them in Washington state. Israel Keyes committed suicide last year in an Alaska jail cell before agents could identify all his victims.

Nightly protests on Idaho's Highway 12 delayed but did not stop a huge piece of oil equipment crossing the state. The so-called “megaload” passed through a scenic river corridor and entered Montana on Friday.

Now, the Nez Perce Tribe is asking a federal judge to prevent more extra-large shipments.

The national debate over oil development took an unusual turn on an Idaho highway early Tuesday morning. For two hours, members of the Nez Perce Tribe blocked the passage of a giant water evaporator headed for the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.

An Oregon shipping company and the U.S. Forest Service appear to be at a standoff over whether huge pieces of oil equipment will pass through a scenic stretch of Idaho. These so-called “megaloads” are ultimately headed to the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.

The Forest Service says it can’t authorize shipments that are as wide as two lanes and the length of five semi-trailers to use a protected portion of Highway 12. At least, not without a lengthy review.

For most Northwest baseball fans, the Mariners games against the Astros are where the action is at this weekend. But there's another set of games on Saturday like none you’ve ever seen in America's pastime.

The athletes in this league are blind. That's right: baseball for the visually impaired.

It's a warm afternoon in Spokane. The smell of cut grass and barbecue is in the air. And Bee Yang is up to bat.

A teammate who has partial vision directs Yang to the plate: “Keep going, 20 feet forward, 10, 5, homeplate, tap.”

Oil companies still may find a way to move huge, so-called “megaloads” through a scenic corridor in Idaho, once traveled by Lewis and Clark. But for now at least, opponents of the extra-large shipments are hoping government red tape has closed that option.

The loss of 19 firefighters in Arizona is sending a chill through the firefighting community in the Northwest. Fire season is about to begin here -- ushered in by a heat wave sweeping the region.

Word spread fast among wildland firefighters in the Northwest. “We are saddened but [must] honor our fallen by continuing with the job at hand,” wrote the hotshot crew out of Union, Ore., on Facebook.

It's still not clear what the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act will mean for many same-sex couples in the Northwest. That's because of new legal questions surrounding the hundreds of couples who have marriage licenses from Washington state but live in states like Idaho and Oregon that have banned same-sex marriage.

Oregon and Idaho need more dentists. That's according to a new study out Tuesday from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It puts Oregon and Idaho among the top 10 states with the worst shortages.

Unless you live in a rural area, you probably haven't felt the dearth of dentists found in the Pew study. As Portland dentist Jill Price puts it, the problem isn't so much a shortage as poor distribution. She says, “We need to find ways to move people into the outlying areas.”

News that the Taliban is open to a prisoner swap is bringing renewed hope to supporters of a captive soldier from the Northwest.

Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, has been a Taliban prisoner for nearly four years now, and there's still no timeline for his return.

A senior Taliban spokesman in Doha, Qatar, told the Associated Press that the group would be willing to turn over Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay. It would be the first step – a confidence building measure – in wider negotiations over the future of Afghanistan.

Even if you've never visited a jail, you probably have a pretty clear image of what inmate visitation is like – a shatterproof glass barrier, two people sitting on either side, speaking into telephones.

But that's changing in some parts of the Northwest. More and more county jails are switching to privately operated video conferencing systems. Sort of like Skype, for inmates. But these systems have technical difficulties and come with costs for the inmates’ families.

Delayed visits

Pages