Year in Review 2017: A look back at the year that was

Continued from last week…


• The city of Blaine transferred 2 acres of land to the Lummi Nation. A signing ceremony marked the final step in a years-long process to transfer the land after human remains and Lummi artifacts were removed from the site of a construction project at Semiahmoo spit in the late ’90s.

• Bruno Feldeisen, executive chef at Semiahmoo Resort, Golf and Spa, was featured on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” on July 6. Feldeisen competed against chef Michelle Gayer.

• The Pacific Arts Association hosted the week-long Drayton Harbor Music Festival in Blaine. The annual event featured outdoo

r concerts, a music camp and a student showcase.

• Blaine City Council voted on July 10 to allow developer Kim Wong to build a 39-lot subdivision on 10.5 acres located adjacent to Drayton Harbor, at the south end of Dodd Street.

• East Maple Ridge, a 349-unit subdivision planned for east Blaine, received a one-year extension from Blaine City Council on July 10.

• A large crowd attended a presentation at Pastime Bar and Eatery on July 13 to listen to Ellen Gamson, executive director of the Mount Vernon Downtown Association. She discussed how community events and diverse retailers helped revitalize Mount Vernon’s downtown core.

• Whatcom Land Trust purchased 11.5 acres of land in the Drayton Harbor Watershed in Birch Bay to eventually turn it over to Blaine Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 for public use.

• Droves of people attended the 34th annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest July 22–23.

• Washington state rolled out its new distracted driving law on July 23. The law fines drivers for using a handheld device, such as a cellphone or tablet, either while in motion or stopped in traffic.

• Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County finished construction of a home in Birch Bay.


• The Birch Bay Music Festival returned August 4-6. Bands from Washington were present, including The Groove Birds, The Replayzmentz and Arcade Cowboys.

• Drayton Harbor Days brought pirate-themed fun to Blaine Harbor on August 5 and 6. The event featured the Run to the Border, a pancake breakfast at the Blaine Senior Center, the Prestigious George Raft Race and the tall ship Lady Washington, offering tours and

• In response to new U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, the Blaine School District published a policy against “lunch shaming” to ensure no child is turned away for lack of funds.

• CHS Northwest announced on August 7 it would close its Ace Hardware Blaine location by the end of the month and that a liquidation sale was underway. CHS Northwest general manager Don Eucker cited a lack of Canadian shoppers as the main reason for closing.

• Primary election results allowed Blaine City Council at-large candidates Harry Robinson and Alicia Rule to move on to the general election.

• The Peace Arch Park International Concert Series took place from August 6 to 27.

• The Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce hosted the third annual Birch Bay Rollback Weekend at Birch Bay Drive August 12–13.

• Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 announced that it would ask Blaine and Birch Bay residents to vote on a six-year renewal of levy on November’s general election ballot.

• The Blaine school district hired a half-time mental health counselor, Kaatri Jones, to work in all district schools. Previously, kids in Blaine had to get mental health counseling outside of school.

• Bridges Plat, a 40-lot subdivision planned for east Blaine, received a one-year extension.

• Dennis Olason resigned from Blaine City Council, citing health concerns.

• The Bellingham Giving Circle, a program that provides school supplies and basic resources to kids who don’t live with their parents or guardians, planned to start a Blaine program.

• To expand its primary care offerings, Touchstone Behavioral Health hired Elizabeth Schnippel, a Naturopathic Doctor; she joined a team of a dozen licensed mental health counselors.

• A solar eclipse on August 21 dazzled audiences in Blaine, Birch Bay and across the US.

• Windermere Real Estate duo Jen Freeman and Leah Crews organized Summer Fun in the Park, an event at Marine Park on August 26. At dusk, guests viewed “The Lego Batman Movie.”

• Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) commissioner Carl Reichhardt, 81, retired.


• Discover Birch Bay Days took place September 2 and 3 at Birch Bay Drive.

• First responders, dignitaries and citizens from the US and Canada took part in a ceremony at Peace Arch Park on the 16th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

• Birch Bay duo Sandy Robson and Dena Jensen were named ‘environmental heroes’ by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. The two joined Bob Aegerter, Ellie Kinley and Jeremy Freimund, who were also named environmental heroes this year.

• Whatcom County Public Works Department hosted the fifth annual Run with the Chums 5K and kids 1K Smolt Sprint at the BP Highlands on September 16.

• The Vault Wine Bar and Event Space, 277 G Street, opened for business on September 21.

• Border Brew Espresso closed and Ferndale-based Curb Shots took its place on 678 14th Street.

• Meg Olson was appointed to the Blaine City Council on September 25. She filled vacant Position 3, representing Ward 2, left open by Dennis Olason.

• Whatcom County officials announced they were slated to postpone the Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility, also known as the berm, due to a lack of permits and property easements.

• Residential mixed-use development project Horizon at Semiahmoo edged forward. North America CC Chang Jiang Investment, LLP planned to maintain ownership of 31 lots to build single-family homes, while the remaining 42 residential lots will be sold, the company’s rep said.

• Subway, located at 429 Peace Portal Drive, closed September 26 after owners sold the building.

• On September 28, Blaine Planning Commission approved permits for a project to construct 57 multifamily units in two, three-story buildings at Peace Portal Drive and Madison Avenue.

• The Pastime Bar and Eatery closed at the end of September and Peace Arch City Café, formerly located on H Street, announced plans to move into the space at 658 Peace Portal Drive.


• After more than four years of business, Vonna’s Purple Fin Restaurant closed on October 1.

• Chemical-free clothing company, Rawganique, announced plans to open at 429 Peace Portal Drive. The company sells handcrafted organic, chemical-free clothing and household products.

The Northern Light, Waterside, Pacific Coast Weddings and Mount Baker Experience received 25 awards for ad design, editorial, photography and web design at the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual meeting in Olympia, October 12-14.

• October 31 marked the final day of work for Blaine police chief Mike Haslip. He was honored by the city and fellow officers on October 23.

• The city unveiled results from a survey that aimed to identify funding priorities for citywide projects and programs. Overall, 270 residents participated and 43 action items were identified.

• Local organic food manufacturer Nature’s Path announced it would invest approximately $30,000 to help the city of Blaine restore and purchase land along Cain Creek as part of a settlement agreement reached with the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE).


• Peace Arch City Cafe opened in the former Pastime Bar and Eatery location on November 3.

• The November 7 general election ushered in new faces to elected office positions serving residents in Whatcom County. On Blaine City Council, incumbents Harry Robinson and Paul Greenough lost their seats to Alicia Rule and Eric Davidson; Charlie Hawkins and Bonnie Onyon retained their seats.

• Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) commissioners passed a 2018 budget on November 9 with a recommended 4 percent rate increase. Last year, rates were raised by 3.77 percent.

• Blaine City Council voted November 13 to approve a 1 percent increase to the regular property tax for 2018. The hike was expected to generate $11,000 in additional revenue for the city.

• North Whatcom Fire Rescue (NWFR) fire chief William Pernett announced plans to start a new resident program to boost the volunteer base at station 62, located at 9001 Semiahmoo Parkway.

• James Patrick Kelly, 51, was arrested November 17 on suspicion of theft in the third degree after he dismantled and attempted to drive away with crab pots that had been used to build a Christmas tree at Blaine Marine Park. Volunteers built the tree for the Holiday Harbor Lights festival in December. The night prior, 70 crab pots were stolen.

• Community Assistance Program and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue volunteers on November 22 prepared turkey dinners with all the trimmings to families from Blaine, Birch Bay, Custer and Point Roberts who were without the means or ability to cook up a meal of their own. They distributed meals to an estimated 265 families at the Cost Cutter mall in Blaine.

• Port of Bellingham commissioners approved a 2018 budget with expected revenues of $47.5 million and expenditures of $58 million, resulting in a $10.5 million deficit.

• The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 86 hosted a Thanksgiving dinner on November 23 at the Blaine Senior Center. A total of 75 volunteers served and delivered 726 meals.

• Blaine City Council voted on November 27 to pass a legislative goals agenda for 2018. The agenda requests funding for the I-5/Exit 274 project and an east Blaine utility extension.


• Blaine’s annual Holiday Harbor Lights festival took place December 1-2. The event featured an arts and crafts bazaar, Holiday Lights Dash, Santa and Mrs. Claus, tree lighting and caroling.

• Representatives from Chuckanut Bay Foods purchased 2.28 acres of city-owned land located at the former site of the Blaine Municipal Airport for $396,644 on
December 5.

• Blaine City Council voted to approve the 2018 budget on December 11. The budget plan for the fiscal year totaled $42,240,759; last years was, $38,206,515.

• The Whatcom County Public Works department hosted a “Shellebration” on December 15 to mark one year of open shellfish harvesting in Drayton Harbor and honor volunteers.

• State senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) and District 42 state representatives Luanne Van Werven (R-Lynden) and Vincent Buys (R-Lynden) stopped by Blaine City Hall discuss the city’s legislative goals agenda for 2018 on
December 15.

• The Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce hosted the Ring of Fire and Hope on December 31.

Note from the editor: An earlier version of this story reflected the incorrect name for Leah Crews. We regret the error.

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