Letters to the Editor: November 27 – December 3, 2014

The Editor:

This is in response to Donna Starr’s letter in last week’s issue of The Northern Light. I totally agree with her opinion, but there is an error in the medical facts. Hepatitis C is not food borne, but Hepatitis A is. Hepatitis C is only communicated through contact with blood or bodily fluids.

I am a retired public health nurse who has  lived with someone with Hepatitis C and I’ve never tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus. There are vaccines for Hepatitis A, B and C, but the cost is prohibitive for people without good medical insurance. I just thought it was important to clarify this point. For more information, check online or contact the Whatcom County Public Health Department.

Karen Howard
Blaine

The Editor:

As far as I know there is no organized effort to “de-industrialize” Cherry Point, as some suggest. But Birch Bay-Custer neighbors will be affected by the proposed coal terminal and overwhelming train traffic.

To that end we are gathering factual information and doing what we can to provide truth to the neighborhood. BP, Intalco and Phillips can stay right where they are with the stipulation that oil transport by rail and ship will be managed with the best practices of safety and environmental care.

I fail to understand why BP or Phillips would welcome an adjacent coal terminal.

At 1,600 acres it will be the largest coal terminal in North America. Coal dust from 88 acres of open coal piles will land on BP and Phillips, playing havoc with their work environment and instrumentation, which in turn makes it more difficult to prevent accidents.

Arrival and departure of 18 coal trains a day will create a bigger traffic headache and noise in Custer and Birch Bay. We already hear the oil trains echo from the other side of the hill. But what of the rest of the state as these trains roll from Wyoming through Spokane to reach us? Traffic at every arterial meeting track will have to wait, including school buses, fire engines, ambulances and commuters. The railroads are not obligated to spend more than 5 percent on road crossings.

We, the taxpayers of Washington, will be stuck for the cost of overpass construction. One overpass can cost more than the taxes paid by the coal terminal in five years. Are the projected 214 jobs worth the expense? Demand for coal is weakening. Goldman-Sachs withdrew from the GPT project. The original GPT permit was for a grain terminal. Help the farmers and stick with the plan.

Alice Brown
Birch Bay

The Editor:

There was an article in last week’s paper that has many people in the community confused about Blaine’s Christmas Giving Tree program. The article said the Blaine Chamber of Commerce is endorsing a Bellingham-based holiday charity in lieu of the Christmas Giving Tree, which the chamber has opted not to hold this year.

The truth is the Blaine chamber has never held, coordinated or sponsored the Blaine Christmas Giving Tree program. What they have done is handled the bank account during the time the program was run by Good Samaritan Society-Stafholt. Last year when Good Samaritan Society-Stafholt stepped down after over 15 years, the Blaine Christmas Giving Tree was continued by the Boys and Girls Club, with Cheryll Wydur as the coordinator and the chamber handling the bank account.

This year the Tree of Wishes, the new name for Christmas Giving Tree, is in full swing with a non-profit status. Tags have already been placed throughout Blaine businesses, churches, community spaces and with individual families. The program has helped families in need with Christmas gifts specifically suited to their children for more than 20 years. It is my sincerest hope that the Blaine community continues to participate by taking tags available on trees at many of the Blaine businesses, churches or by making a donation for the Tree of Wishes team to purchase gifts. For information call Cheryll Wydur at 927-9585.

Does the chamber still have the money that was in the Giving Tree bank account? Do we, as a community, want a change in a program that has worked for many years? Who made the decision to change – was it all the members of the Blaine chamber?

Marsha Hawkins, former coordinator of the Blaine Christmas Giving Tree
Blaine

The Editor:

I read the article about having a conversation about smoking with your kids. It is a very good article, but how about an article on drinking and drugs?

I am 74 years old. I used to smoke but that was my choice. I am sick and tired of this smoking issue.

How about statistics on drunk driving and drugs? How many people have been killed by drunk drivers or drugged-up people? For instance, a family coming home from a night out is hit head-on by a drunk driver. The driver is fine but the whole family is dead. The family had no choice, but the idiot drunk did. But he wasn’t smoking. What’s next? The drunk driver gets a slap on the wrist and a “Don’t do that again,” while the friends and family of the dead bury them.

Or the young man who killed four of his friends driving drunk gets put in rehab because his parents didn’t teach him responsibility for his actions. It’s sick the way drunks and drugged-up people are not held accountable.

I see the younger generation “going to hell in a hand-basket,” as my mother used to say. Most kids care about nothing. If my children talked to me the way kids do today they would be standing for quite a while, because they would not be able to sit. The good kids are overshadowed by kids who drink themselves stupid or drug themselves brainless.

Is there something wrong with this picture? Before I close I must say, before we have prohibition of smoking, we need to add drunk driving and drugs. I even have your first banner to hang: “Ban cigarettes and all tobacco products in this free country but legalize pot, and tell drunks and drugged-up people, ‘Do not smoke!’”

Janet Zagloba
Custer

The Editor:

The next few weeks will bring two major deadlines to our community. One deals with the 4,200 percent increase in oil trains in the last five years. An effort is underway to try to control this increase in transporting crude oil by rail in Washington. If you are concerned, let our elected officials know. December 1 is the deadline for comments to “The Department of Ecology on Oil Transportation Study.” (re-sources.org/sfi)

Our second challenge has a December 4 deadline. This is the date for comments on the Department of Natural Resources draft for the Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plan. It is important to let this organization know that you care about Puget Sound, the health of our aquatic environment and its restoration. Without your voice, the powers that be will think you don’t care.

After a 10-year study, this agency is about to draw up a draft plan to address protection of species, their habitats and the various uses of public and private aquatic lands. We need to be heard, because the voices of the fish are disappearing. Cherry Point herring spawning numbers have declined from 14,000 tons in 1975 to less than 1,000 tons in 2013. Without a vibrant local herring population, our orcas and salmon will decline. The food chain will be broken. If you care, please post your concerns to re-sources.org/hcp.

Naomi Murphy
Ferndale

The Editor:

We know service jobs don’t pay enough to support families, and we know raising the minimum wage still won’t be the cure-all for a path to prosperity. We need a balance of all kinds of jobs here, and we shouldn’t rely on just one sector, like retail, to produce that balance.

It’s clear we need a more vibrant economy than what we have now. I read about homelessness in Whatcom County. Many people struggle just to survive. When an opportunity like the Gateway Pacific Terminal project (or before that, Chicago Bridge and Iron) comes to our community, we should embrace the possibilities. The people who are so opposed to any development at Cherry Point are not the people at the bottom of the economy who need work to put food on the table. Where is the concern for the poor?

Despite the egregious broadening of the scope of the environmental impact study for Gateway, I hope the decision-making agencies base that decision on facts, and fairly evaluate all aspects of the proposal. Do that soon, and let’s get on with welcoming a project of this magnitude to our community. If we don’t, you can be sure that no other industry will set foot in our job-averse county.

Chet Dow
Bellingham

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