Joshua McNichols | KUOW News and Information

Joshua McNichols

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2007

Joshua has been the "growing pains" reporter since 2015, documenting the region's growth and change. 

Joshua “took the long way” to radio, working in architecture firms for over a decade before pursuing his passion for public radio in 2007.

By "long way," he means he's also been a writer, bicycle courier, commercial fisherman, bed-and-breakfast cook, carpenter, landscaper and stained glass salesman. He’s detailed animal enclosures to prevent jaguars from escaping the Miami Zoo. Once, while managing a construction site in Athens, Greece, he was given a noogie by an Albanian civil war refugee in his employ. “You do not tell those guys how to place stucco,” he said.

All of which has no doubt made him the story-teller he is today.  

Ways to Connect

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Emily Fox speaks with KUOW reporters Joshua McNichols and Carolyn Adolph about why they spent a month reporting on Bremerton, and what it taught them about our growing region.


Paul Lundy repairs typewriters for a living.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Office space is cheap in Bremerton. That's one reason you can find eccentric businesses there, like a business that repairs old typewriters.


Betty Walker waits for shipyard workers to speed walk past her restaurant, the Sweet and Smokey Diner. The shift ends a few minutes from now at 4:02
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bremerton grew up next to a Navy base.

The town used to be the economic center of the Kitsap Peninsula. But then, in the 1970s and 80s, development shifted to the suburbs around Bremerton. Now the city wants to get some of that mojo back.


The late Michael Taylor
Larry Taylor

You know about Charleena Lyles, the mom of four who was shot by Seattle police a week ago.

Last fall, a similar shooting happened the day when the Jungle, a homeless camp, was shut down. Police shot a man named Michael Taylor.


El Balcon, Bremerton. The city ousted the tiny restaurant during the recession but invited it back after its owners and their five children became homeless.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

When Mario Amaya first set foot in Bremerton in 2009, he fell in love.


War boxes visible in a Bremerton alley.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Tiny, affordable houses line some of Bremerton’s alleys. They’re called “war boxes,” remnants of the massive building boom that transformed Bremerton during World War II.

Studying that boom and the housing it left behind offers clues on what it would take to truly meet our region's current housing needs.


Kenny Wayne Gunner plays guitar in downtown Bremerton at lunch time
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Earlier this year, the Navy scraped the hull of the U.S.S. Independence to prepare it for dismantlement. That likely released heavy metals into the waters of Puget Sound, which is bad for salmon and orcas. The Navy didn’t get a permit for the work, so environmental groups sued this week.

But in Bremerton? It's going to take more than that to shake this town's love of the Navy.


The crew of an unidentified 'sturgeon class' submarine like the U.S.S. Parche, in 1980
PHC Robert K. Hemmerly/Dept of Defense Still Media Collection,

Bremerton, just across the Puget Sound from Seattle, is a military town. On the ferry ride over, you can sometimes see aircraft carriers and submarines. But there’s another kind of defense industry set to grow in and around Bremerton, too. An industry that defends us against cyber warfare, and it benefits from the area’s military expertise.


Vietnam Vet Steve Gardener at the Drift Inn remembers Bremerton's rough and rowdy past
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bremerton's mayor wants people who've been priced out of Seattle to move there. But there's been something holding Bremerton back: the town's reputation. Bremerton used to be known less for its beautiful water views and more for its bar fights and prostitution.


Jeremy Chirinos of Renton was in middle school when Jimi Hendrix's house arrived. The failure of a museum project that would have surrounded the house meant he had an affordable place to grow up.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The body of musician Jimi Hendrix lies in a Renton cemetery. Across the street is the Hi-Land Mobile Manor Park, which looks like it hasn’t changed much since it was built in the 1950s.

A few years ago, a 900-square-foot house showed up to the mobile home park on a flatbed truck trailer. It was Hendrix’s childhood home. It rolled up to the mobile park because of a dream. A dream that would not come true.


Jockey Javier Matthias on McDove. McDove and Distinguishable are the Green Bay Packers of horses, being owned collectively by owners of the Emerald Racing Club.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Distinguishable, a 4-year-old fillie, sucked a carrot from Vince Bruun's hand. 

"I find she's got a bottomless pit of a stomach," Bruun said. Which brings us to the heart of the problem: Owning a racehorse is really expensive. And the people interested in spending a fortune on racehorses are disappearing. "We're losing the whales in our industry," Bruun told me. 

Emerald Downs has a plan to save the whales.


Auburn's population was almost 1/3 Japanese American, before World War II and the internment. After the war, many families did not come back. This family photograph is on display at the White River Valley Museum, in Auburn.
White River Valley Museum

Auburn, Washington, used to be an agricultural community surrounded by farmland. Many of those farms were owned by Japanese-Americans. But the internment in WWII changed everything.


Cross this log bridge to reach an island in Auburn where some homeless people live.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

There's an island in the middle of the White River in Auburn.

To get there, you cross a log bridge and follow two separate trails. That’s when you see them: Semi-permanent shelters people have built. One looks like a big family tent but made of logs and sticks all woven together — whatever people could find.


Blue Origin employees Devin Vezetinski (C) and Dan Cody (R) chat up Edward Matyasi (L), who just interviewed with the company. Blue Origin likes this brewery & taproom so much, it sent a postcard from Airways Brewing Company up in one of its rockets.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Lots of industrial jobs are coming to the Kent Valley, south of Seattle, businesses that make everything from ice sculptures to airplane parts. But workers today don’t want to carry a metal lunch pail to work everyday. They want to go out.

Restaurants and pubs are trying to capitalize on those hungry workers with money in their pockets. But it’s tricky in Kent, because the modern city was laid out to keep industry and restaurants far away from each other.


Rockie Ward  may have a job for you to work at Omax. They make machines that cut metal using water.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

People call it the “silver tsunami,” for those currently in senior positions in Kent's industrial valley. A massive wave of older, experienced workers is considering retirement at around the same time.


Luke Muñoz overcame the obstacles keeping him from leveling up his skills thanks in part to the generosity of an uncle who gave him a quiet room to study away from his noisy siblings.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Pat Pritchard stood before a group of students at Green River College in Kent. He told his students that he doesn’t train them to be grunts, because what we need from workers is changing. 


The spillway doors at the Howard Hanson Dam. A red mark on the left door indicates the highest water the dam ever saw, in 2009. This revealed weaknesses in the dam that have since been fixed, but storms could bring higher water someday.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The Green River hasn’t flooded in more than half a century.

It used to all the time. Every other year or so, the valley filled with water and turned into one long lake, from Auburn, Kent, and Renton up to Seattle.

Now the area holds the largest collection of warehouse and manufacturing jobs in the state, worth billions of dollars. Someday, it will probably be under water again.


A couple Kent farmers known as the Johnson brothers and an unidentified hired man stare down the photographer from a raft during a 1910 flood in what we today call The Green River Valley.
White River Valley Museum, Clark Collection

This is a story of a war between farmers. Farmers in Kent and Auburn were frustrated because their valley was constantly flooding. And that made it difficult to farm in their beautiful, very fertile valley.

That led those farmers to do some naughty things.


WSDOT

Remember Bertha, and how lots of people thought it would never finish digging the two-mile tunnel beneath Seattle's waterfront?

Well, the machine reached daylight around midday on Tuesday. After nearly four years of digging, the machine is about to reach the finish line on Highway 99 near the Space Needle.

Reporter Carolyn Adolph stands on a development site near Black Diamond, WA. Her fellow reporter Joshua McNichols is behind the camera.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bill Radke speaks with KUOW reporters Joshua McNichols and Carolyn Adolph about what they learned from their time reporting in Black Diamond for KUOW's Region of Boom team.

Harold Nesland III owns Sahara Pizza in Snoqualmie and Black Diamond.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

A woman, a new resident of the huge Snoqualmie Ridge development, had called in for pizza.

It was the first pie order for one of those new shiny houses, and Harold Nesland III, owner of Sahara Pizza, drove it over.

Moon Bang, originally from Korea, owns the Black Diamond Bakery. She has periodically encountered racism since she bought the bakery 10 years ago.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Our region was built with immigrant labor. It’s part of the story of growth and development here. There are many ways to tell that history. How we tell it signals who belongs, and who is a foreigner.


Bill and Cindy Wheeler have lived on Lake Sawyer for 30 years, but they don't know the weir master.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Our region’s rapid growth is straining our lakes, especially little lakes on the fringes of urban areas. When growth approaches, the communities around them aren’t always prepared to protect them from pollution. 


Vancouver, British Columbia
Flickr Photo/Andriy Baranskyy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/68ttdz

Like Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., also has a housing shortage. At the same time, many new homes in Vancouver sit vacant. Vancouver’s experience could hold lessons for Seattle.


Mine #11 in Black Diamond supported a workforce of 400-500 people, underground and on the surface. This mine operated from 1896 to 1927. Photo is from 1904.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collection Negative No. UW-23734.

The hill at Palmer Coking Coal Company in Black Diamond is smoldering. 

A vacant lot in Black Diamond, Washington
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Do we have enough land for all the people moving to Washington state? There’s a bill working its way through Olympia that would change how planners would answer that question. It’s backed by builders and realtors.

Artist's rendering of Oakpointe's 'Ten Trails' development
used by permission from Oakpointe Communities

So how did King County's largest development in recent history end up way out in Black Diamond?

It happened in part because of Black Diamond's history as a company town. 

Development signs in Black Diamond
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The City of Black Diamond may have to shut down, according to its mayor. That is, unless the mayor and the City Council can agree on a budget for 2017 at a meeting Thursday night.

Mary Ann and Bill McDermond have lost friends over their opposition to the massive project that's being built in Black Diamond
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Mary Ann and Bill McDermand moved to Black Diamond 23 years ago for the peace, tranquility and the strong sense of community. Their kids used to play with the neighbors kids, she said, “and we just got along good with everybody.”


The Black Diamond Museum sits in the town's old railroad depot. Trains no longer run through the city.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Emily Fox speaks with Joshua McNichols and Carolyn Adolph about their team reporting project, Region of Boom, which explores the growth of our region, one town at a time.

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