I am speaking as a Birch Bay community member involved with the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce as liaison to Whatcom County. I have been a participant in the “fun at Birch Bay” all of my life, spending family vacations here every year, and finally purchasing property in 1972. After retiring we now call Birch Bay home.
I have been involved in community issues for the past 15 years and the Birch Bay Bible Church has partnered with the community of Birch Bay in a “scandalous” way. They have opened their doors year after year to large public meetings, small committee meetings and many Whatcom County public meetings.
Their staff sets up rooms that are scheduled for our meetings and then cleans them up. The ladies of the church often serve coffee and cookie refreshments to welcome the public. Never have they asked the community to reimburse them for the use of the church. They are always gracious and willing to serve the Birch Bay community in this way.
The Birch Bay Bible Church serves as a center of our Birch Bay community like churches did in the beginning of our country. It serves the local community as a gathering place not only to build and encourage people in their spiritual lives but also to help plan and build a better civic community. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how the planning work of this community could have moved forward without the use of this beautiful church facility, since we have no school or civic building in Birch Bay.
At this time of Thanksgiving I am grateful for Pastor Tim Thiessen, Vivian Wheeler, the church staff and congregation and would like to thank them for their involvement with and service to the Birch Bay community.
A November 20 article in the Bellingham Herald reported that the recent windstorm picked up and spread radioactive waste from a ground repository to within 40 feet of Route 4. Read the story at bit.ly/1YkKuMj.
In that article, Peter Bergstrom, spokesperson, said while there was a low risk of contamination from this event, it is not acceptable to find radioactive material where it is not supposed to be. That’s also true for coal dust contamination.
Given that the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) coal port at Cherry Point will have exposed, uncovered, open-air piles of coal that are expected to cover 80 acres and be 60 feet high; given that we have, over the past three years, experienced severe windstorms that appear to be more frequent and increasing in strength; and given that the recent windstorm picked up ground-level, pit-contained radioactive particles, it is clear that coal dust contamination from above-ground, 80-foot high stockpiles will be picked up by wind and spread across the county from Bellingham to Birch Bay and beyond.
Coal dust causes a variety of severe, ongoing medical issues, as well as life-ending disorders in young and old alike. Clearly, the relatively small number of jobs that would result after construction of the terminal is completed (some estimates suggest as few as 40) do not warrant threatening the lives of large numbers of people across the county.
We do not need, and should not want, the GPT terminal and its high level of risk in our neighborhood, or neighborhoods that adjoin ours.
The Voting Rights Act enhanced our democracy. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush signed its renewal. Before this act, registering to vote in some states meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar, the number of bubbles on a bar of soap. The Act protected the rights to register and vote. Recently the courts removed those protections and many states are making it difficult to register again.
If every new voter-suppression law was struck down today, America would still have one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples. Many citizens choose not to register or just don’t vote. How do we so casually discard our rights? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice in shaping America’s future? We grumble about feeling powerless when we could take the time to vote, together.
Historically, we were taught that pooling our votes and resources to hold this country together for its citizens was socialism. We are so well trained that we have allowed the few to dictate our fate, economically and even culturally. The only way we can empower the citizenry of this nation again is through the vote.
Socialism is just a word, social action of the citizens is an act. When voters participate in decisions, we will be far better served as citizens of this great nation.
We are not only “Children of a Common Mother,” we are children of a common water source. I hope Blaine residents are aware of the proposed mega truck parking project just north of the border.
Councilor Gill of the city of Surrey has made a promise to trucking companies to find parking for up to 1,300 semi trucks and provide the facilities to service them. Ignoring their own environmental report, the city of Surrey is trying to fast track the facility, already acquiring 77 acres.
This project has the potential to cause ground water contamination of the Mount Baker aquifer and harm the salmon-bearing Little Campbell River flowing into Semiahmoo Bay. Thirty years ago the area avoided greater Vancouver’s garbage dump greatly due to American protests.
Please direct your voices again to the city of Surrey; urge them to find a different location for this project. For more information go to Facebook, Friends of Hazelmere-Campbell Valley; Twitter, @fhcvalley, hashtag #fishntrucksdonotmix or #notjustagravelpit.