2014 Year in Review: Looking back on the year, part 2

By Steve Guntli

 

During the second half of 2014, the first marijuana retailers in Whatcom County opened, the wheels started turning for a new playground in Marine Park and voters decided they like the name “Blaine” just fine.

July:

Overcoming the supply problems that held up stores in Seattle and Tacoma, Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham became the first retail marijuana shop to open for business in Washington.

BlueRidge Semiahmoo Point LLC, an investment firm in Los Angeles, filed permits to open a new luxury spa on Semiahmoo spit. The developers describe their business as being very different from  than their neighbors, the Semiahmoo Resort. BlueRidge is eyeing an opening in late 2016 or early 2017.

The Friends of Birch Bay State Park cut the ribbon on the BP Heron Center in Birch Bay State Park. The facility had been in the works for nearly 10 years.

A Blaine man was photographed while taking a stroll along the boardwalk on Marine Drive, carrying his pet Chihuahua and an AR-15 assault rifle. His image in The Northern Light opened up a local debate about second amendment rights and gun control.

August:

Blaine City Council decided how to spend an unexpected budget surplus of more than $500,000. The funds were the result of stronger-than-expected retail sales. The council voted to devote most of the surplus to shoring up the city’s general fund, and to use the rest to fund small public improvement projects.

Local residents tried to raise around $50,000 in two weeks to ensure that the nautically themed playground in Marine Park could be built in 2014. Fundraisers were able to make nearly $30,000, but the project was still held over to 2015.

Pungent purple algal blooms made life difficult for Birch Bay residents. County representatives assured citizens that the algal blooms are normal and safe, and the smell subsided by the end of the month.

An elderly Blaine resident accidentally crashed her car through the wall of the Blaine Public Library. No one was injured in the accident.

The Blaine School Board approved a proposed $45 million bond, which will now go on the ballot for the February special election.

September: 

Local residents filed petitions with the city to limit the power of labor unions. The group, working with templates drawn up by right-wing think tank The Freedom Foundation, filed the petitions too late to be included on the September ballot, so the city council voted to strike down the measures.

Jeff Carrington, director of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, unveiled his ambitious plan to revitalize Birch Bay in 2015. The plan includes revamping old festivals and introducing new ones, as well as pursuing state tourism grants and introducing an exclusive membership program for chamber members.

Representatives from the Salishan Neighborhood Organization petitioned the city to preserve the waterfront views along the west side of Peace Portal Drive. The group suggested the city try to raise $1.3 million to purchase the vacant properties along Peace Portal to maintain the views of the harbor, which organization members believe is a draw for tourists.

Federal agents seized nearly $500,000 in cocaine and methamphetamines from a storage locker on Grandview Road. Agents believed the drugs were on their way to Canada, where their street value would be upwards of $1 million.

October:

The Whatcom County Council approved the construction of the Birch Bay beach park on the Vogt property. The park is expected to open in 2017.

Edaleen Dairy opened its first store in Blaine. The Lynden-based dairy is expected to be a big draw for Canadians who travel to the U.S. to buy milk and other dairy products.

Two Canadian brothers were arrested at the Blaine border for selling counterfeit airbags. In a lab test, the phony airbags only deployed to about half strength and shot streams of fire from above and below the bag.

The Blaine school board heard a proposal from Birch Bay residents who want to build a school in Birch Bay.

November:

Blaine voters rejected the name change proposition 66–34 percent. Council member Clark Cotner and the other architects of the name change movement said they would not attempt to reopen the debate.

A man allegedly tried to commit suicide by burning down his house on D Street. Firefighters were able to pull the man out of the blaze, and he was sent to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital with minor injuries.

Border agents temporarily closed the Lynden crossing after they found unknown chemicals in the trunk of a car. Authorities believed the Canadian couple driving the car was operating a mobile meth lab. The two were taken into custody and the border was reopened in a matter of hours.

Evergreen Cannabis, Blaine’s first retail marijuana store, shot for a late November opening but missed the window. The store’s opening date is still to be determined.

December: 

An autistic boy’s Christmas wish went viral. William Thomas, 12, asked his mother, Kay, for mail this Christmas. Kay Thomas posted his wish on Facebook, and wound up getting international media attention and thousands of responses from all over the world.

Wild birds in Whatcom County tested positive for strains of the avian flu, which is harmless to humans but can be devastating to commercial poultry populations. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is monitoring wild birds in the area closely to prevent further spread of the disease.

Former Blaine city councilman Bruce Wolf was killed after being struck by a car. Well over 200 friends, family members and colleagues attended his memorial service and remembered him fondly.

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