Posts in Journalism

Nowhere to Go

For the Silverado Express Newspaper

Waiting under the schoolhouse with Jeff Monroe and Don Shaw
Waiting under the schoolhouse with Jeff Monroe and Don Shaw. Photo by K.S. Brooks 

While locally we have shortages of office, light manufacturing, and other business-related spaces, available housing has been lacking at crisis levels. “We’re in a crisis right now and we need to find a way out of it,” Spokane County Commissioner Josh Kerns told KXLY news back in August of this 2021. “The average family in this community can’t afford the average house in this community.”

And that’s not just in Spokane; housing prices have skyrocketed all over the State of Washington. The state’s “runaway champ” however, according to Dan Bertolet of, is Spokane, “where from 2017 to 2021, home values rose by 81 percent, and rents by 52 percent.”

The solution – to build more homes – sounds like it would be simple, but it’s not. Zoning laws and the State of Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA) throw a monkey wrench into the equation. Read More

Our Vanishing Trades, Update 2023

young man welding
Skills USA welding competition at Spokane Community College. All photos by K.S. Brooks

Tired. That’s what I heard in the voices of the local tradesmen I recently spoke to: They sounded tired.

Todd Spradlin, the face on our cover from four years ago when we at the Silverado launched a series of articles to raise awareness of Vanishing Trades – he no longer had that fight in his voice. I became deeply saddened.

We met in a coffee shop to talk about what trends he was seeing with the trades since our last effort and, frankly, it didn’t seem like he was seeing any improvement on his end. Talent was still hard to find, and the businesses in this area – plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and more – continue to be in dire need of workers.

While getting young people – or anyone – to work in the trades may not have improved, there is quite a lot of movement to make things better. Read More

The Elusive and Ghostly Leucistic Red-Tailed Hawk of Arden

albino-ish hawk in tree
Photo by K.S. Brooks. Please do not use without attribution.

D.L. Kreft will not be making his regular appearance here this week in For the Birds. Word on the street is that he is busy hurriedly building his counter-turkey warfare moat and turret while they are reluctant to leave the shade of the trees due to the summer heat. Smooth move, Mr. Kreft. I want to be on his team when Turkeygeddon goes down.

Without the Big D around this month, that left me to ponder the universal questions of: How did the Famous Ghostly Red-Tailed Hawk of Arden become leucistic? Can a snow-white raptor find love? What the heck does leucistic even mean?

Let’s start with that last question. And just a little bit of friendly advice: Don’t ever mistakenly state that leucistic is “sort of albino” on Facebook. You will be harshly criticized by people with nothing better to do than look for ways to pick on people who are trying to simplify an explanation. That’s lesson number one.

Number two: Cornell University’s All About Birds site says, “Leucism is not a genetic mutation, but rather describes defects in pigment cells that are caused during development. This may result in full leucism, where there is a reduction in all types of pigment. An animal with full leucism will appear paler than normal. Leucistic animals may also show irregular patches of white — this is referred to as partial leucism… Because the development of the eyes occurs separately from other areas of the body, eye color in leucistic animals is not affected and will be normal in color.” You may have noticed that, in albino animals, the eyes are pink or even red.

The story continues on Medium… If you enjoy it, please give a clap for it. I make like a fraction of a cent for each clap.

Searching for Sasquatch

Bigfoot of Stevens County's Will Ulmer investigates
Bigfoot of Stevens County’s Will Ulmer investigates

For some reason, I get chosen to cover all the Sasquatch stories for my local papers. I’m not sure why no one else seems to want to write about this, but now it’s kind of my “thing.” Luckily, the people I’ve met (okay, except for a couple) have been completely reasonable and skeptical in their approaches to investigating the mythical creature. Is it real? I dunno, but I’ve sure enjoyed following others along as they’re trying to find out.

Searching for Sasquatch

What do Sasquatch researchers talk about around the fire? Stories of finding footprints, hearing screams, and other mysterious encounters. I get a feeling that there is a little bit of competition in some cases, but for the most part, they all want the same thing: to know if Sasquatch is, in fact, real.

Of course there are the groups that already believe it is real and want to see it with their own eyes. There are others who are skeptical and want to prove — either way — whether it is real or not. Then there are the people who think there’s definitely something out there and want to know what it is.

Being invited on a Sasquatch expedition may sound strange to some, but to me, it was an honor because of the level of trust involved. I agreed to camp overnight at an undisclosed location. Eventually, I was told the address and asked not to reveal it in order to preserve the wildness of the place. Don’t bother asking me where. I won’t tell.

Will Ulmer of Bigfoot of Stevens County greeted me when I arrived. He had just returned to camp with visiting experts Stephen Major of Extreme Expeditions Northwest LLC, Larry “Bean” Baxter of Kenai Bigfoot Research Group, Amy Bue of Project ZooBook, and Josiah Martin of Martin Media. The group had brought thermal and infrared imaging that was really impressive. Their film crew — Josiah — had one of the most advanced drones available. If Sasquatch was out there, they felt pretty confident they’d be able to pick up on him or her…..

From the December 2019 edition of the Silverado Express newspaper. You can read the rest here. If you like it, please give it a clap. Thank you.

Buried Alive

Avalanche Rescue Dog Copyright KS Brooks
Avalanche Rescue Dog from Columbia Basin Search Dogs. Photo by K.S. Brooks

It’s white, but it’s dark. Your arms are pinned. You can’t move your legs. Are you up or down? You can’t tell. Muffled voices filter down through the packed snow, at least you think that. Do they know you’re there? You want to scream, but you don’t want to waste precious air. Terror overrules logic, so you scream bloody murder. Your heart is pounding in your ears so loudly that you’re not sure you’ll be able to hear anyone answer you. Tears pour down your face.

You jerk when something pokes you. “I’m here!” you yell.

“He’s alive!” you hear.

The sound of shovels cutting into the snow brings even more tears. “Hold on, we’re coming! Hang in there!” they call out to you.

From the March 2020 edition of the Silverado Express newspaper. It also was picked up in a January edition of the Chewelah Independent newspaper. Read the rest here. If you like it, please give it a clap. Thank you.


Levi Seitters at the NE Washington Fair
Levi Seitters at the NE Washington Fair. Copyright K.S. Brooks

When I arrived at Seitters Farms, a side-by-side sped past me and slid sideways to a stop on the icy and muddy driveway as if guided by the skill of a professional dirt track racer. When I put my truck in park, I looked over to see Levi Seitters behind the wheel of the UTV, a bright, toothy grin from ear-to-ear.

“That was pretty awesome,” I said.

“She said I should beat you here,” Levi spouted, referencing his sister, who was seated next to him….

From the January 2020 edition of the Silverado Express newspaper. Read the rest here. If you like it, please give it a clap. Thank you.