By Jack Louws
2014 was a year of renovation for Whatcom County government. An extensive renovation of the judge’s chambers on the 3rd and 5th floors of the courthouse was necessary due to the addition of a 4th superior court judge starting in January 2015. The work will be completed by year’s end.
The first steps in a consolidation of county government offices were taken this year with the purchase of the building that currently houses the health department. The building will undergo some renovation and will eventually house planning and development, engineering and health department staff.
The Birch Bay-Lynden Road and Portal Way intersection was completed this summer and compact roundabouts have been installed at the I-5 and Slater Road interchange.
The biennial budget for 2015/2016 has been the focus for several months. The county council approved it at the November 26 regular meeting, after a public hearing was held. Other significant events this year were the election of the Whatcom County Charter Review Commission members, who will commence work in 2015; and the formation of four new watershed improvement districts in the county – the Laurel, South Lynden, Sumas and Drayton watershed improvement districts.
The new jail project is moving forward. The county is working with the city of Ferndale to obtain a Conditional Use Permit necessary to build the new jail. Whatcom County is also working with the other jurisdictions to develop a Jail Financing Interlocal Agreement. This will facilitate a very important and significant next step in acquiring the funds necessary to build the new jail.
It has been a busy and challenging but very fruitful year for us. I wish everyone a very good 2014 and hope that all have a wonderful holiday season with friends and family.