By Steve Guntli
As we look back on 2014, it’s almost hard to believe that so much could have happened within one 365-day span. This was the year we legalized recreational marijuana, battled Ebola and dumped buckets of ice water on our heads. We said goodbye to Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joan Rivers, Maya Angelou and Robin Williams. The country became obsessed with “True Detective,” “Serial” and a gun-toting raccoon from outer space.
It was a year of highs and lows all around the world, but our little corner of Washington has thrived. Through tragedy, joy and lots of spirited debate, Blaine and Birch Bay came out of 2014 stronger than ever and ready to face the new year.
• Officers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stopped an illegal crabbing operation in Blaine. Officers spent months monitoring the perpetrators, who made tens of thousands of dollars selling illegal, undersized crabs out of season.
• After seven years of planning, the improvements to the stormwater infrastructure in Birch Bay’s Cottonwood neighborhood were completed.
• Harry Robinson and Paul Greenough were re-elected mayor and mayor pro tem of Blaine, respectively.
• After nearly 30 years in business, the Birch Bay Hostel closed its doors.
• Blaine High School’s wrestlers won the 1A state championship, narrowly beating out Forks with 110 to 109 points. Borderite Mike Antczak was named heavyweight champion of Washington.
• The Seattle Seahawks easily won their first Superbowl victory, defeating the Denver Broncos by a whopping 43–8.
• The Port of Bellingham completed a $38.6 million terminal expansion project at Bellingham International Airport. The project was more than five years in the making. The terminal was expanded from 27,000 square feet to 105,000, and added a new ticket lobby and a sit-down restaurant.
• A mudslide in Oso, Washington, claimed the lives of 43 people.
• Birch Bay and Custer residents were spooked by sightings of cougars in the area.
• The park and recreation district officially changed its name to Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2.
• Lions Camp Horizon acquired the former Birch Bay Hostel property to use as a dormitory for camp volunteers.
• Blaine City Council voted to reinstate the city’s development impact fees.
• Blaine resident Trevor Hoskins suggested changing the name of Blaine to Blaine Harbor at a city council meeting. Council members Clark Cotner and Bonnie Onyon threw their support behind the proposition. This was the second time the name change had been proposed: a measure in 2000 lost by a margin of 57 to 43 percent.
• Blaine mayor Harry Robinson received big laughs and a few angry letters in The Northern Light when he suggested changing the stop signs to read “Stop, Eh?” to encourage Canadian visitors to obey traffic laws.
• A 54-year-old man killed himself by driving his truck at high speed off the pier into Drayton Harbor. In doing so, he struck 7-year-old Urban Albright, seriously injuring the boy. Later that week, Blaine firefighters and police officers volunteered their time and materials to add a new wheelchair ramp to the Albright’s house until Urban could fully recover.
• The county parks commission selected the Vogt Property in Birch Bay as the site of a future beachfront park.
• A Blaine woman was implicated in a burglary and attempted murder in Ferndale. Lesley Villatoro allegedly drove her boyfriend Chad Horne to the scene of the crime, where Horne broke into a woman’s home and held her at gunpoint.
• A measure to change the name of Blaine to Blaine Harbor was put on the ballot for the November general election.
• The parks and cemetery board first heard a proposal for a new nautically themed playground for Blaine Marine Park.
• The school board considered placing a $45 million bond on the ballot for a February 2015 special election. The bond would go to pay for significant upgrades to the high school, as well as improvements throughout the district.
• Iain Buchanan of the Birch Bay Waterslides offered students from the mudslide-ravaged community of Darrington a free day at the park.
To be continued next week