Letters to the Editor: October 20 - October 26, 2011

Published on Wed, Oct 19, 2011
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The Editor:

I absolutely agree with Bill Becht in his letter to the editor published in the Oct 13-19, 2011, edition of The Northern Light.  First, I find it quite disturbing that Amtrak wants to demolish our station, and secondly I am even more disturbed that the City of Blaine has waited so long to consider such an environmental change. My concerns are not just about keeping our train station building because of its history but also, and more importantly, about transforming it into a profitable enterprise.  Anyone from White Rock, Lynden, Birch Bay, Custer or Ferndale must presently drive to Bellingham (Fairhaven) to board the train for Seattle (or even Vancouver). If our station were operational again, the increase in revenue for Blaine would be astounding. People would drive into Blaine at any time during the day or evening (not bypass us) and shop, eat or visit our city before or after boarding their train. A long-term fee-paying parking lot can be established to take care of any overflow parking problems. We can reinvent our parking structure and number each parking space on Peace Portal, H and G streets up to 3rd Street, which will put more money into the city. Fairhaven charges up to $6 per day and an hourly rate of $1. Been to White Rock recently? They charge $3 per hour to enjoy their waterfront and its shops and restaurants. Guess what – people pay it and enjoy themselves. Statistical data shows approximately 66,000+ people ride the Amtrak train yearly out of Fairhaven. I believe the convenience and the revitalization of the Blaine station would bring a great percentage of those travelers to Blaine for no other reason than the geographical convenience.
We have already increased our visitors to Blaine thanks to Jack and Christine Niemann and their Black Forest Restaurant.
Can you just imagine the business this would bring to Blaine? We could not only increase our daily population and visitors to our city, but also open the door to new businesses and increase the revenue of existing ones. It would be a total win-win situation.
Everyone should attend the meeting in City Hall on October 24 at 7 p.m. to voice their individual opinions. The City of Blaine needs to know exactly what the citizens of Blaine want them to do in this situation – whether “for” or “against.”
Bill and I will be there. Will you?

David Riffle

The Editor:

I would like to thank my customers, friends, family and The Northern Light for making my years in business and my birthday very special. It was a very happy day indeed. Thanks again.

Gladys Croft
Busy Bee Upholstery

The Editor:

I currently have been volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County. Working for this company has been amazing. There are lots of great opportunities and great people always on the work site. I have never enjoyed working so much in my life. As a women working in the construction trade, I feel so powerful.
I was hoping that maybe I could get more people from the Blaine community involved in volunteering. There are always plenty of things to get done and things for people to do, ages 16 and up. We have had people out helping at the age of 85. This would be a cool project for families to do together, learn together and make a difference in others’ lives at the same time. If you would like to volunteer please contact Habitat for Humanity at 360/715-9170. Come out – it is an amazing experience.

Meghan Schnackenberg

The Editor:

Hello Blaine!
I know this letter is overdue, but I am still thinking of you and really appreciate the time I spent there. When I was in journalism school I never thought I’d work at a small community newspaper. I had originally applied at The Herald in Everett for an editorial writing internship and made the top 10 out of 80, but as it turns out, I got hired in Blaine instead by two wonderful businesspeople who treated me like family. Not only did working in Blaine give me seven solid years of experience, it gave me a sense of community I never had before.
I loved hearing people’s stories; having coffee with regulars in the Little Red Caboose; going on kayaking adventures with my 80-year-old friend Guy Hughes and former city council member Marsha Hawkins; watching Ron Snyder and his wife, Cathy, milk goats; meeting 70-something world tennis pro Joyce Vanderpol; hearing Richard Sturgill’s stories of jumping in the middle of a pod of humpback whales; and having annual lobster feeds with my Filipino movie star/florist friend Adrianne Hanson and her super fun family. I could go, on but there isn’t room to list everyone I will miss.
In some ways, Blaine is more hip than Bellingham, and I’m convinced Blaine is the coolest little city in America. And yet it’s like a vacuum or a vortex, a self-sustaining utopia that only exists in the minds of those who live there. To the rest of the world, we’re a blip on the map, and the 30,000 Canadians who pass through each day on their way to Walmart have no idea they just missed the center of the universe. Perhaps that’s how it is preserved.
I’d also like to invite you to keep up with my adventures by
following me on Twitter  at
www.twitter.com/#!/Tara_Almond. Or just send me an email and say hi (taraalmond98230@gmail.com).

Tara Nelson

The Editor:

I am writing in regard to the letters and even radio interviews about the coal cars coming through Whatcom County after the state-of-the-art terminal is built at Cherry Point. There have been many concerns about the impact of the coal cars. What a lot of the people commenting don’t know or know and are not saying is the coal cars are here already. I see them every night at about 7 p.m. just south of Blaine. There are about 100 of them on that train. I don’t know if they are coming through at other times as well. It is interesting that I have never heard any concern over them or the impact they are already having. The train currently takes them to B.C. If the state-of-the-art terminal is built at Cherry Point, they will at least be diverted from Blaine. At least the Blaine residents will be safe from the coal dust they never knew they were breathing already.
As for the concerns a writer had over would it really create jobs: Economics 101 would teach you that anytime you build a terminal in an area such as that one, you will need more stores to support the workers and even more stores to support the stores – even if all the contractors were “marine deep sea terminal contractors” from out of town, as she stated. The reality of it is to build a terminal such as this you will need asphalt, cement, steel and concrete workers, pipe fitters, welders, painters, carpenters, landscapers, cleaning and security people. You’ll also need a lot of office people, and I’m sure a lot more than I mentioned. Well Vern, do you think they’ll hire any of them from around here?
This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for Whatcom County. If the people of Whatcom County want to blow this one like they did Chicago Bridge and Iron a few decades back, then don’t complain when you have 9 percent unemployment, and most of the jobs you do have are the minimum wage service industry jobs dominating our county.

Thomas Drake

The Editor:

We, the undersigned, urge support for Prop. 1, Northwest Park and Recreation District #2 levy on the November 8 ballot because $20 per year from a residence with an assessed valuation of $200,000 over a six-year period would provide predictable and dependable funding to allow the Northwest Park and Recreation District to establish and grow a robust program of classes, sports opportunities, recreation events and leisure time activities for all ages.
Especially targeted will be intra- and inter-community trails to provide safe bicycle and pedestrian connectivity between and around Blaine and Birch Bay. The establishment of readily accessible ball fields will be a priority. Additional amenities such as playgrounds, off-leash dog areas, Frisbee golf and the like will leverage the public use of existing parks belonging to Washington state parks, Whatcom County and the city of Blaine.

Marsha Hawkins
Doralee Booth and Kathy Berg
Birch Bay

The Editor:

This is in response to recent articles regarding the proposed condemnation of property owned by the Robert Martin family. In my opinion this intended action is not about “the greater good” for public use or benefit. It seems rather a complicit effort to benefit both the city’s and developer’s bottom lines at the expense of Mr. Martin and the public.
This use of eminent domain is not for a freeway easement or a Bonneville transmission corridor serving “the public.” It is to facilitate future development and the corresponding degradation of our watershed which, to me, is as important an issue as Mr Martin’s (as well as “our”) tenuous and subjugated property rights. It seems to me the term “public good” in condemning this property is a misnomer. Increasing the city’s future tax base and a developer’s bottom line by usurping property to aid in the destruction of our watershed is, in my humble opinion, not in “the public” good.
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” ... and drank bottled water.

Steve Smith

The Editor:

At the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild forum, Sheriff Elfo’s opponent claimed that gangs were not a serious problem in Whatcom County.
Gang activity is responsible for murders, assaults, drug-trafficking and firearms violations. The Texas Street and Lynden Fair shootings highlight the seriousness of the problem. Gangs have virtually taken over other communities in Washington and cannot be allowed to flourish here.
We moved here to raise our children in a safe and wholesome environment. That environment is now threatened by the emergence of gangs and the associated vandalism, violence and crime.
This summer, we met with Sheriff Elfo and learned of his strategies to deal with gangs. His office has identified over 30 gangs and 400 members!
Sheriff Elfo is leading efforts to eradicate gangs in Whatcom County. Working with local, state and federal law enforcement, resources are being shared, coordinated and directed toward eradicating this problem. Every police chief and our prosecuting attorney signed on to a formal agreement that recognized the gravity of the gang situation and agreed to work cooperatively to resolve it.
Our community needs Sheriff Elfo’s leadership, and I will be voting to re-elect him.

Ron Butcher

The Editor:

We’d like to add our voices to the folks who are writing in support of Proposition 1 for the Northwest Park and Recreation District #2 Levy.
The commissioners on this Board have done a fantastic job of managing the funds they’ve had to work with. We have the beginnings of a wonderful walking and biking trail that we hope will eventually link Blaine and Birch Bay, an off-leash dog park, and a great activity center with a newly refurbished gym. These are just a few of the things already accomplished.  There is more to be done, and unless we approve this levy, the work cannot go forward.  
We all know there are places in government where our dollars are not being well-spent – this is not one of those places.  We can see and use the results of good planning and great money management. If your home is worth $200,000, your cost would be $20 per year, that’s less than $1.67 a month or about 40 cents a week.  
If we want the Blaine and Birch Bay area to grow and prosper, we need the park and recreation enhancements this levy will provide.
Please join with us in supporting this levy.

Suzanne and Larry Conrad

The Editor:

Experience definitely matters. I know Debbie Adelstein to be an innovative, experienced leader who will continue to provide us with transparent and non-partisan leadership as our next Whatcom County Auditor.
Debbie has served as our chief deputy auditor for six years, demonstrating leadership skills in budget development and administration for four biennial cycles, assuring fiscal responsibility of the Auditor’s Office. She is a certified election administrator and has been responsible for directing 23 elections, serving us as an instrumental member of the leadership team that implemented the transition to vote by mail and the federally mandated optically scanned ballots.
While critical, the position of county auditor encompasses more than assuring that our voter privileges are met. Debbie has proven executive ability beyond the election and voter registration division. To her credit and our advantage, Adelstein’s on-the-job know-how involves active management of the recording division, the licensing and titling division of the Auditor’s Office, and supervision in placing all Auditor’s Office recorded documents online.
Whatcom County deserves Adelstein and the skills and integrity she brings to this office. There is no replacement for experience. Join me in voting for Debbie Adelstein for Whatcom County Auditor.

Elaine M. Lynch

The Editor:

Sheriff Elfo has been the leading advocate for a safe and right-sized jail, alternatives to jail, such as electronic home monitoring and improvements to the mental health system that can successfully divert minor offenders from the criminal justice system.
Sheriff Elfo was able to obtain a grant from the National Institute of Corrections for a team of experts to assist the county council-created Jail Planning Task Force with its work. His vision of a well designed jail maximizing the use of technology will ensure that jail capacity can be added without increasing staffing.
Please join me in voting for Sheriff Elfo.

Jason Hentz

The Editor:

In the next two weeks we’ll receive ballots for the November election. Voting in every race on those ballots could make a profound difference for our quality of life. Whatcom County has an incredibly beautiful natural environment, rich farmlands and abundant natural resources. However, we are now at a crossroads. Mayor Pike has taken an unequivocal position in opposition to exporting coal at the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) and has reached out to mayors along the rail route to raise awareness.
Ultimately, though, it is the County Council that must approve or deny two permits, without which SSA may not transform the previously permitted bulk commodities terminal into the largest coal export facility in North America. Christina McGinnis is a water quality expert, and Alan Black’s commitment to land stewardship would bring a much needed balance to our County Council as it balances environmental and economic impacts of current and proposed actions. And as GPT moves aggressively to galvanize support for the coal terminal in the northern towns in the county, Lloyd Zimmerman, as mayor of Ferndale, can balance the conversation.
The proposal to expand the terminal to export coal has galvanized our focus on what kind of community we want for ourselves and our heirs. Other key decisions await our elected officials. Will we support and protect our farmlands, forestry and natural resources by working to effectively avoid sprawl? Will we act to better protect our drinking water? Will we ensure that growing jobs for our community includes growing green jobs? If we do not elect those with a strong commitment to the environment, we may end up with inadequate environmental protections, additional delays in protecting our drinking water, urban sprawl and more damage to our incredibly beautiful environment. This is the kind of damage that cannot be undone. Is this the legacy we want for future generations?

Betsy Gross

The Editor:

Although I voted for Doug Ericksen in the past, I am disappointed in him, and will not vote for him for county executive. I supported his 2010 campaign for state senator, then watched his promises to serve constituents for four years go up in smoke after only six months in office, when he declared his intention to run for county executive.
Do his promises now mean any more than those he made just months ago?
Doug also indicates that he has the experience to be executive. What experience? Does working for Fish and Wildlife and legislating qualify him to effectively manage a business the size of Whatcom County? I question his definition of “experience.”
Then, a few days ago I saw campaign literature recently distributed by Mr. Ericksen that skews his opponent’s positions and misrepresents his time as mayor. Does Mr. Ericksen intend to use inaccurate information to make decisions? I question his below-the-belt party politics and, sadly, I also question his integrity.
Instead, I will be voting for Jack Louws, who has decades of true experience successfully running a large business and a city. His skill at reaching consensus between people will, I believe, serve our county’s best interests. Please join me in voting for Jack.

Phyllis Kramer

The Editor:

It gives me great pleasure to express my wholehearted support to see Pete Kremen on the Whatcom County Council. For the past 30 years we have been growing a local high-tech business, creating many direct and indirect jobs in this community.  In this growth process we have certainly encountered many challenges in dealing with all three levels of government.
With respect to dealing with the county we have had the privilege of dealing with Pete Kremen on numerous occasions, and we have seen his dedicated support for the county and a healthy business community. He has been extremely helpful, providing assistance and cutting through various issues with red tape for our alternative energy projects as well as the expansion of our facilities.  
It is based on that assistance that we have not only been able continue our operations here in Whatcom County, but maintain and even increase the employee base. On numerous occasions Pete has personally helped us with difficult and unusual problems related to codes and requirements. His personal assistance has been extremely helpful in resolving conflicts and expanding our environmentally friendly business. Pete has our fullest support.

Grace Borsari, CEO
Altair Advanced Industries, Inc.

The Editor:

It is no secret that small business has a direct impact on local housing and farming markets. Doug Ericksen has an unmatched track record of full support for local, forward-thinking, responsible development and business growth.
Doug Ericksen will provide more options and opportunities for our children to appreciate the unique qualities of life and values we all call home. I grew up in Whatcom County, and I’m raising four children here who need Doug’s visionary support. Now more than ever, we need Doug’s leadership and experience right here at home in Whatcom County.
Join me in voting for Doug Ericksen for our next County Executive.

David Verret

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