In Brief: Blaine City Council

New public defender appointed

Blaine City Council voted 6-0 on November 13 to appoint Sharon Westergreen as the city’s new public defender. Westergreen is an attorney at Everson-based Westergreen Law and has more than 20 years of experience as a prosecutor, according to the firm’s website. In her new role, she’ll provide indigent defense services to the city.

In Washington, both cities and counties are required to provide legal aid to those who cannot afford or obtain them. Westergreen will implement new standards established by the Washington State Supreme Court and Washington State Bar Association that define the duties and the rights of defendants in criminal cases.

According to a city staff report, a new public defense contract needed to be signed to ensure the standards were met. The contract will require that the city provides the infrastructure, training and services that are required for the indigent defense counsel to comply with the standards.

Two attorneys submitted a proposal to the city of Blaine. City attorney Jon Sitken said the city of Everson was looking for a new public defender simultaneously; both Westergreen and another attorney, Tom Lyden, submitted proposals to both cities. The city of Blaine and Everson conducted joint interviews prior to making a recommendation to respective city councils. According to the city, an increase in legal aid services is expected.

City to purchase new equipment following voltage transformer failure

Blaine City Council voted 6-0 to authorize the purchase of $40,000 in switch equipment after a voltage transformer failed last week. The switch is located at one of the two substations in Blaine and Semiahmoo that power the Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility on Marine Drive.

“This is really critical to the operating of this facility,” public works director Ravyn Whitewolf told council Monday. “I’m ready to hit the buy button now.”

The city had to declare an emergency to the public sewer system to allow for relief of public bidding requirements for the switch equipment’s repair and replacement, which will be paid out of the wastewater fund.

The substations provide backup power to the water reclamation facility. While the likelihood of both substations failing is “remote,” the city felt it was necessary to purchase back-up switching equipment for use during repairs. The only way to repair switching equipment is to send it back to the manufacturer.

“Since we don’t want to be without a switch this time of year, we need to order a new switch and then send in the old one for repair, which will provide a backup if there are problems in the future,” read the city staff report prepared by Whitewolf.

“Because the operation of this switch is critical to supplying power to the facility and without it a critical threat to the proper performance of our essential public sewer system exists, the need for this work met the emergency requirements of RCW 39.04.280.”

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