Letters to the Editor
Sheriff Bill Elfo and Editor:
I have had the pleasure of being a taxpayer in Whatcom County for over 35 years. Throughout these years the sheriff’s department has not only grown in size but each sheriff has been successively more erudite in terms of their relationship to their troops, to the citizens of Whatcom County, and in their understanding and sensitivity to the laws of the United States. Sheriff Elfo has not only gone to great lengths in order to preserve the rights of the citizenry, he has also generated encounters to promote accord between those who view the world very differently.
Sheriff Elfo went to great lengths to ensure that even those alleged to be “hate mongers” were afforded their right to free speech and assembly. For a month the Minutemen were able to proclaim that they could “do their thing” in Whatcom County. The city of Bellingham, championed by councilwoman Barbara Ryan passed a resolution challenging the Minutemen action during this period.
What reward was received for the sheriff’s fair play and Bellingham’s proclamation? Ryan’s name, I was told last night at the Whatcom County Democratic Central Committee, is now among a list of enemies on hate websites. I’m told that the Bellingham police department has formally acknowledged this situation. It is neither idle or casual. I submit this information to you all so that we all have a better notion of what’s up.
The Minutemen took advantage of our openness and fairness and, instead of passing the word that officials in this burg were peacemakers and the populous law abiding, somehow conveyed to their friends that the leadership of this fourth corner was not entitled to respect, to say the least.
Recently, on two occasions in less than two weeks, I have seen deer crossing at Hughes Avenue and Peace Portal Drive. This has been in the early morning on my way to work.
Unfortunately one deer has been hit. Please be careful. I believe the deer are around here due to construction in the area.
A Curtiss-Jenny opened the air age for Blaine in 1921; the same plane and pilot initiated airmail service a year later. In 84 years of operation, Blaine airport (Dierks Field) has seen less than 10 injury accidents – no one on the ground has ever been hurt. Blaine’s sidewalks are infinitely more dangerous.
The main reason for our airport’s existence is as part of the general aviation (GA) system – like our highways, ports and waterways – a major transportation grid. (Not for the private benefit of the 40 odd pilots, that’s 40 – not five – who keep airplanes here.)
There are over 19,000 GA airports nationwide but only 487 commercial fields. Each year 22 to 30 percent of all air traffic passengers travel by GA aircraft – at a ratio of two-thirds business, one-third pleasure or tourist. Looking from another angle only 1/30 of one percent of Americans own a plane (88,000 individuals own 144,000 aircraft – GA figures), yet this same small fleet carries 22 to 30 percent of all air travel passengers.
The primary beneficiary of the GA system is the general public. This is why the state and federal governments are so willing to fund airports and why the state DOT chair declared Blaine airport an essential service two years ago. He also publicly vowed to block in court any attempt to close Blaine field – adding that the state has never lost a case of this nature.
Airports serve as economic engines for a community. Return on the dollar for infrastructure investment nationwide averages 200 to 500 percent per year. Locally, the Port of Bellingham reports a 400 percent return in each of the past two years on the GA sector of their field; they also state that they cannot meet demand. Since 9/11, GA has grown 40 percent while the commercial sector has grown less than 10 percent. I am frankly amazed that a growing community would even consider closing their airport.
Blaine’s airport – like all airports – is funded 90 percent by the FAA (feds), seven and a half percent by the state and two and a half percent by the city – but the city gets to keep all of the revenue. This is a bargain. The proposed field expansion will move the strip south, open more land for business (and revenue for the city), allow turbine light passenger and freight aircraft to land here and most important give Blaine all weather capability (via a GPS precision approach) for the first time – allowing scheduled service. It will also invest $15.8 million into Blaine’s economy and infrastructure at no additional cost to the city. (Blaine paid its share last year.) Another phenomenal bargain.
The attendant businesses are clean and provide a healthy percentage of high wage jobs; in marked contrast to the truck stop-bar-porno shop scenario which will give the city a chance to increase its police expenditure.
Selling the field will cost the city millions, plus all future revenues, and deprives the community of travel, freight, and emergency medical services – forever. The pool of beneficiaries is tiny and totally excludes the general public. Expanding the field costs nothing and offers a plethora of benefits for both the city and the community at large. It strikes me as totally irresponsible to stunt our future for the short-term greed of a few developers.
In a letter to the editor regarding the Community Assistance Program that was published in last week’s issue of The Northern Light, the phone number given for the Blaine Family Service Center was incorrect. The phone number is 332-0740.
Due to Thanksgiving next week, The Northern Light will be operating on an accelerated schedule. Ads will be due Friday, November 18. Thank you for your cooperation.
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.
send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.
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