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Kelli Scott | Wenatchee in the spotlight over pot, snakes

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This might be a good time to set up a Google News Alert for “Wenatchee.”

If you run a Google News search for the words Wenatchee and Marijuana, you’ll find that the city’s ban on recreational marijuana sales and the lawsuit filed in response to that ban have caught the attention of folks in far off places. From The New York Times to Al Jazeera America, Wenatchee’s pot prohibition is making headlines in papers across the country and is being framed as a major battleground over legalizing the drug.

The World’s digital department intern, Paige Schoengarth, spent some time on the WVC campus recently talking to students about the marijuana ban, and we posted her video interviews on The World’s Facebook page last week. You can find Paige’s work in the video slider on The World’s homepage, wenatcheeworld.com. Paige, who has studied videography, also posted a Father’s Day video to Facebook on Friday, and she will be shooting weekly video interviews for us until she leaves in August for her senior year at Washington State University.

The other local story making the national news rounds this week comes from World reporter Michelle McNiel. On June 11, Michelle wrote about a nest of at least a half-dozen snakes spotted by a remote camera in a downtown Wenatchee sewer line back in May. That story and accompanying video (on wenatcheeworld.com) was picked up by The Associated Press and ran last week on news websites in South Carolina, California, Texas and Kentucky, among other places, usually filed under a “Weird News” heading.

Also last week, The World posted an item on our Facebook page about a 1974 tank car explosion at the Appleyard Terminal in South Wenatchee. Reporter Dee Riggs is working on an article about the explosion and wanted to hear from folks who lived in Wenatchee at the time and have memories of the accident. The post generated more than 60 comments from people who remember that day well.

Rick Kettering wrote: “I remember it clearly. Feeling the explosion and seeing the cloud from it.

Then my mother picking me and my brother up and rushing to the hospital. I remember seeing pictures of grandma and grandpa’s house gone — nothing but a hole in the ground.”

Sandy Burns wrote: “I remember this vividly. I lived on Viewdale Street. I was 10. (The explosion) shook the entire house. My mom ran a day care from our home. Kids like me were scared to death, screaming and crying. The local law enforcement started driving up and down the street ordering evacuation. We — including all the childcare kids — were loaded up into two vehicles and went to a friend of my parents on Western to wait to see what happened. One thing I will never forget is running inside the house and asking my mother what evacuate meant. I had never heard my mother use questionable language until that day. She said: It means get the hell out!”

Look for Dee’s story in early August. If the gripping details and personal recollections from online commenters are any indication, it should be an interesting piece. It is also an example of this newspaper’s ability to tap into our network of 22,000 friends on Facebook to help us tell compelling, crowd sourced stories.

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