When it comes to Washington symbols, you probably can’t beat an apple for conveying state pride.
Before Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, his office secured hundreds of the new Cosmic Crisp variety of apples and had them distributed in the House chamber where the speech would be made. One for each senator and representative, and on the chair where each statewide elected official and Supreme Court justice would sit.
The new apples, developed by Washington State University, were partly a prop for a portion of his speech where he was “shining the light on how great Washington is” and some of the people who helped develop it were in the gallery to wave when Inslee introduced them.
They also provided a laugh line later in the week at a news conference, when Inslee suggested the speech was at least successful enough that no one threw an apple at him. Considering the Republican criticism of the speech, it may be more accurate to say they were leery of wasting a perfectly good apple on such a long throw.
The fruit came to the governor’s office from PVM, the firm marketing the apple for WSU, state Agriculture Director Hector Castro said.
Staff made sure they were waiting in the House chamber when lawmakers and justices arrived. They had a few left over that were put in a bowl on the counter in the governor’s office for anyone who came in. Tara Lee, Inslee’s spokeswoman, said the governor’s legal office is checking to see whether it will have to report the value of all the apples, or if they can be considered just the pass-through to other legislators and other officials, who could skip reporting the value of a single apple.
But Cosmic Crisps were not the only apples of note as the Legislature opened.
Sen. Curtis King, a Republican from the apple-growing regions of Yakima, brought Inslee, new House Speaker Laurie Jinkins and some other leaders a box of Autumn Glory apples, another new variety being grown in the state. The apples are mainly grown for sale in Europe, King told reporters who happened to see him carrying a box into the speaker’s office on Opening Day.
They’re sweeter than Gala apples, another variety grown in his part of the state – or at least that was his impression when he did a taste test with a local grower, he said. But he hasn’t eaten a Cosmic Crisp yet, so he couldn’t compare them.
King’s box of apples came with a nice note about working together in the 2020 session, Lee said. She dodged a question of which apple tasted better, the Cosmic Crisp or the Autumn Glory.
“They’re Washington apples, so I’m sure they are all amazing,” Lee said.
After some significant snow in Eastern Washington in recent weeks, Spokane residents might have raised eyebrows at reports that West Side schools were out for a few days after several inches fell.
While predictions of Snowmageddon 2020 didn’t materialize in the central Puget Sound, the snow was no joke in the mountains, and Stevens Pass was closed for nearly two days because the weight of snow was bringing down trees onto roads and highways.
At one point, the state hired a private helicopter to fly low over some forested areas near roadways so the downward rotor wash would blow snow off the branches and lighten the load.
The town of Skykomish was cut off for about three days with roads closed by snow and downed trees. Inslee took some criticism for not calling out the National Guard to rescue Skykomish from the ravages of the storm.
“We respond to local requests,” he said. “I’m not going to tell the mayor of Skykomish how to run his town.”
People who live in mountain areas are used to helping out their neighbors, he added. “I don’t think the frontier spirit of Washington has absolutely dried up and blown away.”