Letters to the Editor - March 3-9, 2011

Published on Wed, Mar 2, 2011
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The Editor:
I just read your piece in The Northern Light on Marjan Eicher and wanted to compliment you on the quality of the article. It was delightful to read and the transitions between time and place were seamless.
It gave me an entirely different perspective of Marjan as a young woman making a life for herself in a foreign and dramatically different country.
I am glad you were able to use one of my photos – I thought it was the perfect choice and thanks for giving me photo credit.
Bud Hardwick

The Editor:
As a relatively new senior citizen to Whatcom County, I would like to say that my move here proved fortuitous. What a great community!
In the first week of November, just two months after my arrival, I had an almost fatal heart attack and for an unknown reason, I called the Blaine Senior Center instead of 911.
I spoke with Sheila Clemens, the activity programmer at the center. Sheila very promptly notified the Blaine fire department and their paramedics were at my door in a matter of minutes, transporting me to St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham; in effect saving my life. Under St. Joseph’s care, I have made a full recovery.
Accolades are to be given to the city of Blaine, the senior center, the fire department and the paramedics and to St. Joseph Hospital’s very competent and helpful staff. Last, but certainly not least, to my daughter and her husband, who have taken my pets and me into their home.
I am able to write my thank-you letter due to the caring efforts of all the above-mentioned people. I am proud to call Blaine my home.
Frances Ellison

The Editor:
The U.S. Border Patrol and their  air and marine division got an earful from angry border residents at their recent town hall meeting.
Complaints varied from impersonal agents who parked their vehicles and blocked driveways to stories of low flying Black Hawk helicopters that keep people awake at night for hours.
There were a handful of people that showed up to defend and support the border patrol including law enforcement representatives from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department and the Blaine and Lynden police departments.
I don’t disagree that our border patrol is a vital asset to our community, but I don’t recall ever having town hall meetings with over 200 people questioning our sheriff and local police.
We have 322 border patrol agents and 22 agents of the office of air and marine. It’s really clear that chief Bates of the border patrol and chief Powell of the air and marine department need to take a look at their agents and get out and see just what their agents are doing on a daily basis.
Chief Powell said that they use the Black Hawk helicopter to fight terrorism and fly low when pursuing terrorists. They flew 2,500 hours last year and didn’t apprehend one terrorist.
This forum was a powerful meeting, and unfortunately we weren’t allowed to comment on the Wayne Groen case. Please send your letters to support him as he faces jail time for pointing a hand-held spotlight to identify what turned out to be a loud Black Hawk helicopter flying over his home this last September.
His spotlight beam distance was 164 feet while the border air and marine agents claim their helicopter was flying at 500 feet.
Send letters to:
U.S. Department of Justice, Attention Jenny Durkan, 700 Stewart Street, Seattle WA 98101-1277.
Dennis Hill

The Editor:
On February 27 I went through NEXUS at the Pacific Crossing.
My boss had been on a bus bound for the Bellingham airport. He had cleared customs but the remaining people and the bus had not. He was afraid he would miss his flight so he called me for a lift to the airport.
When I got to the NEXUS booth the female customs officer asked me where I was going. I told her I was picking someone up at the border to take them to the airport. She responded, “This isn’t a bus depot, you know.”
I pointed to my boss who was standing on the road waiting for me. She then asked how long I was going to be and I told her I would be coming back right after dropping him off. She then allowed me to go.
I have no trouble being asked questions by customs. I do have a problem when they feel the need to make snide comments such as, “This isn’t a bus depot, you know.”
This is just one example of how these people lack people skills. I cross the border frequently for fuel, etc. I am always friendly and courteous. It would be nice to be treated with the same respect.
This is just one example of rude and snide comments that have been spoken to me by customs officers at this crossing.
I am a 61-year-old Canadian male with no criminal record. I am sick and tired of being treated like a criminal or terrorist every time I cross the border. Perhaps a sign should be erected at the border saying “Canadians not welcome.”
Name withheld by request
Surrey, B.C.

The Editor:
I must say, I appreciate the folks who have spoken up and written in a positive way concerning our border patrol. We bought a home near the border nearly three years ago, and proceeded to introduce ourselves to and become acquainted with these fellows who maintain vigilance in our behalf.
We have yet to meet a single officer who has not been courteous, informative and yes, friendly, even when checking on us a couple of times when we were new here to be sure we belonged! To a man, they have appreciated our interest in learning what to expect and how to be aware and responsible neighbors.
Their activities sometimes amaze us and are always interesting, especially when they must capture someone hiding in the woods. We have not actually seen a single intruder, which speaks to their skill and effectiveness.
I was astonished to read in the article about the meeting (which I attempted to attend but missed due to car trouble), that someone was fearful of them.
They are, I have learned, generally family men, who are simply doing the job they trained for, which is not to intrude into the lives of law-abiding citizens but to protect them. If someone is fearful, I would wonder why they feel they have reason to fear.
I do pray that no executive order ever turns these men’s duties against us, but as long as the U.S. remains the land of the free and the brave, the border patrol agents are not our enemies!
As Mike and Laura Lucas stated, we sleep well (even smile over the passing of the helicopters, I’ve always liked planes and such), and we enjoy an occasional conversation with professionals who appreciate our respect.
P.S. I would suggest that anyone who is at all uncomfortable with the border patrol, simply wave one down or stop near their vehicle and roll your window down and ask a few questions.
They are not unapproachable. In fact, you’ll find that they are very decent people.
Nita Shipley

The Editor:
Thanks to John Bates, sector chief for the border patrol in Blaine for confirmation at the public meeting at Blaine on February 16, that the government of Canada, especially the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was providing excellent co-operation with all U.S. authorities along the border. The R.C.M.P. was originally commissioned as an army, and still is, along with the traditional Canadian Forces, army, navy and airforce.
Jay James, president
Northwest NAFTA
Trade Association
Vancouver B.C.

The Editor:
It’s over for another year, the Academy Awards, that is. So many lovely shoulders and dazzling gowns, cadenced speeches and thank yous. Remarkable.
Well, I have another annual event you can be a part of this Friday. The participants are global; the audience is God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen), the scriptwriters are the women of Chile, who share their story of profound suffering and faith, titling the drama “How Many Loaves Have You?” (Actually, they took the words from Jesus, but that’s okay.) The local venue in Blaine is St. Anne Catholic Church at 6th and H streets at 1 p.m.
World Day of Prayer 2011 is a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women who come together to pray each year on the first Friday of March. Please join us, people from the community of Blaine who believe (still) that we can pray for our rather wobbly world.
Sometimes I think CNN’s Anderson Cooper checked in with Jesus for the evening news scoop: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars... there will be famines and earthquakes in various places,” Jesus was recorded as saying by Matthew, the Gospel writer (Chapter 24). But the really good news (loud applause, please) is that God’s ancient text message is that He is a firm foundation and a refuge and that he cares for the poor and the orphaned.
Hooray! A special bonus for our brief time together will be the delicious bread purchased from the high school transition program.
Come break bread with us. We’d love to have you.
Margaret Gibson



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