Letters to the Editor - March 10-16, 2011

Published on Wed, Mar 9, 2011
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The Editor:
With big coal possibly coming to town, you might want to look at the impact to Tsawwassen, B.C., from the nearby Westshore Terminal coal export facility and Deltaport at Roberts Bank, both to the environment and people’s health and well-being. You can expect these conditions to be replicated in your peaceful border community if this project goes through.
One bonus for neighboring White Rock though: No coal dust from passing BNSF freight trains infiltrating houses or polluting the beach, plus decreased rail traffic through the corridor.
The Tsawwassen First Nation reserve, which is located next to Roberts Bank, and the Delta Superport recently listed some of the negative aspects of being close neighbors with this large industrialized port facility. They include the following:
1. Coal and container trains running to and from the causeways that extends out to sea.
2. Airborne coal dust pollution.
3. Diesel particulate from ships, locomotives and trucks.
4. Black tide caused by coal dust and diesel particulate.
5. Stagnant seashore due to the flow of the current being impeded by the causeways,
6. Noise from coal and container ships.
7. The hollow banging of empty coal cars being shunted.
8. Port facilities illuminating the night sky.
Careful what you wish for in Blaine. You might be giving up a lot so that billionaire Warren Buffett can save a few bucks on his shipping costs.
Don Pitcairn, president
Surrey’s United Naturists (SUN)
White Rock, B.C.

The Editor:
We seem to have a dichotomous view of law and government. On one hand we recognize the need for order and protection, on the other we resent the assault on our perceived sovereignty. This was evident in the meeting held on February 16 to explain the mission of two of Department of Homeland Security branches: border patrol and the office of air and marine.
When we feel threatened, we often react to the agents of change by projecting our discomfort to them rather than to the change itself. It is quite normal to react in this manner; however, while we have rights, we are not sovereign.
We do not choose the laws that we will obey. For instance, we must drive our vehicles where directed by rules and regulations and we must meet certain health and safety codes at work sites and on our private property whether we like it or not.
The Bill of Rights guarantees the security of our persons, papers, dwellings and effects. Dwellings also include curtilage, which is the enclosed area around a dwelling or an area not enclosed pertinent thereto. For example; a detached garage next to a house is curtilage; a barn across a county road probably is not.
The law allows border agents access to all lands public and private but not dwellings up to 25 miles from the border for the purpose of patrolling the border. This is not in conflict with the Bill of Rights as “land” is not mentioned therein.
This having been said, this is not a police state. No one has the right to run roughshod over others, not even federal agents. Tact, courtesy and respect are hallmarks of a civil and civilized society. If these actions are observed by all parties, there is little doubt that our country can retain its national pride and integrity.
The world has changed, especially since 9/11. Change is upon us. With the advent of new technology, we can no longer be Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket or a knight errant (though I do have an affinity for Don Quixote).
If we are unable to embrace change and all its vagaries, it may be said in the future, “once we were here, now we’re gone.”
George Tranberg

The Editor:
Each year the senior class at Blaine high school has an alcohol and drug free graduation night event. The evening’s festivities include various types of supervised activities. The event takes place immediately after the graduation ceremony. The students will be transported via charter bus to an undisclosed venue where the senior parent committee has an evening full of fun and activities planned.
The senior parent committee has been fundraising in an attempt to raise the money needed to send the seniors on this exciting trip; however we are now running out of time and fundraising opportunities. The approximate cost to send a student on this trip is $125. The senior parent committee is asking if anyone in the community would be willing to help make this year’s trip a reality for our seniors by making a donation. Your donations are tax deductible and would be greatly appreciated.
If anyone has any questions or wishes to donate, please contact Tricia Johnson at 360/319-2132.
Tricia Johnson

The Editor:
I imagine that most of you reading this letter know that the Blaine school district is seeking to gain approval for a $32 million capital projects bond on April 26. I also wouldn’t be too surprised if not a few of you are rolling your eyes and thinking, “Here we go again, they’re asking for money during a serious economic downturn, and what’s wrong with the facilities we have anyway.” To be honest, my thinking on the subject ran along those lines even though the impact of the bond on our taxes would be relatively low, until I joined a recent tour of the school facilities. Our two sons had the benefit of an excellent education in the Blaine schools, but I must confess that my familiarity with the school facilities was limited to our excellent PAC and the football stadium. Taking the tour was a real eye opener. Here are my key findings:
1. The high school is ridiculously crowded and more or less falling apart. The school as is can accommodate 400 students, and now has to serve 600 with more growth anticipated. These are just numbers on a page but seeing the crowded classrooms, leaky ceilings and the congestion as the students struggle to use their lockers and try to navigate the congested hallways is much more convincing. Also, the cafeteria shared by the middle and high school is extremely crowded.
2. Some high school facilities are run down and antiquated to the point of being an impediment to learning in the case of the poorly ventilated and therefore overheated computer labs, to being a safety concern in the case of the science lab. Science and technology is and will be increasingly important to the economy of the future, and we’re simply not providing our students with the facilities they need to be competitive in that realm.
3. The high school has 46 doors to the outside. Given the increased awareness of security issues in recent years, fixing this situation would mitigate an important safety risk for the school.
In conclusion, I will be voting in favor of the bond. I urge all of you to take the tour of the facilities scheduled on March 17 at 7 p.m. I feel sure you will come to the same conclusion.
Mike Abrams

The Editor:
I read with interest the article in last week’s paper concerning Walsh Marine taking over the Westman Marine site in Blaine Harbor. I have had calls from several customers asking what is going on, and I think it is important that you set the record straight.
While I wish Norm well in his bid to run this site it should be known that he is in there on a month-to-month basis only. Blaine Marine Services and two other established companies have also submitted proposals to the Port of Bellingham for this facility and the Port should be deciding in the next week or so as to whom they will lease the site.
Blaine Marine Services is looking to clean-up the site and immediately move our larger Travelift there so we can haul sailboats and larger powerboats as we did when we operated the boatyard at Semiahmoo. I spoke with Bob Gudmunson and he confirmed that Norm is just leasing the equipment on a monthly basis until the port decision is made.
I mean no harm to Norm or his fledgling business, but I would appreciate it if you would clarify this matter so the boaters of Blaine know the true facts.
Bob Brooks

The Editor:
At the February 28 meeting, the Blaine school district board of directors was pleased to acknowledge Governor Gregoire’s formal recognition of two employee groups during the month of March.
In an official proclamation, the state of Washington has recognized the dedicated individuals that serve our students, staff and communities as classified school employees. They are crucial partners with teachers, parents, administrators and schools boards in our public schools. We are thankful for their support to every aspect of the educational program.
A second proclamation urges all citizens to join in recognition of school retirees. Many of these past employees serve as volunteers, working for the educational benefit of current and future staff and students. They support numerous charitable projects and activities, sponsor scholarships and remain interested in the improvement of the general welfare of our schools.
Governor Gregoire has designated March 14 – 20 for the recognition of these groups. The Blaine school district would like to urge everyone to join them in applauding their contributions to K – 12 education.
Ron Spanjer, superintendent
Blaine School District

The Editor:
On President’s Day Weekend, February 19 – 20, Blaine Youth Basketball hosted its annual boys basketball tournament. Over 200 fourth through seventh grade boys on 26 teams from Whatcom and Skagit counties and the B.C. Lower Mainland participated. Blaine’s 7th grade team coached by Shaun Pile were the champions of the 7th grade division, and Blaine’s 4th grade team coached by Mark Adams took second place in its division. The players, coaches and families of kids which participate in Blaine Youth Basketball are grateful for the support of Blaine school district, who allowed us to host the tournament, for our tournament sponsors Sports Unlimited, Cost Cutter Grocery, Subway stores, Pizza Factory, the Hot Spot, Little Caesar’s, and MRA Properties LLC, and also for the many, many family members, Blaine high school students and other supporters who volunteered time out of their weekend to help make the tournament a success. It was very enjoyable to witness the positive energy generated by the volunteering businesses and individuals of this community work together to make an event happen that so many kids were able to enjoy. Our sincere thanks to all who helped.
Janell Kortlever, treasurer
Blaine Youth Basketball

The Editor:
With the current exchange rate of the Canadian/U.S. dollar, it is not difficult to understand the increased flow of traffic over the border from Canada to Bellingham. I feel sure Costco and other retailers are enjoying the increased business.
However, is it too much to ask that some of these visitors show the same kind of courtesy they would expect us to show to them when we are visiting their country? I refer to the unreasonable speeds (80 - 90 mph appears to be very common) on I-5, as well as aggressive behavior in some of our stores.
The practice of filling both their vehicle’s tanks and additional portable gas tanks appears to be a potential accident. What happens if a large SUV, loaded with children, groceries and 80 gallons of gas is rear-ended while waiting in line to return to Canada? Is there not a limit on the amount of gas a vehicle can carry?
Please don’t think I do not like Canadians. My sister and brother-in-law are both Canadians, and I have liked all those I have ever met. I am just concerned there may be a tragic accident if a little more courtesy is not shown. Perhaps we can communicate this concern to our friends over the border?
Trevor Hoskins



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