Late last fall my husband and I saw and identified two gorgeous male Bramblings at the Bow rest stop on I-5 (exit 238). Since I didn’t have a camera with me, I couldn’t prove my sighting, nor be completely certain that they were Bramblings, since they only rarely visit Washington state. But I feel certain now, thanks to your “Photo of the Week” by Robert and Virginia Small. Thank you!
The following is a quote from The Bellingham Herald lead story of November 21, 2012: “Whatcom County’s unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in nearly four years, with the private sector adding 2,400 jobs in the past 12 months.”
How interesting that 2,400 new jobs were added to our local economy with no fuss, no fanfare, no new infrastructure, no public expense, no coal dust and no Cape-sized vessels dumping ballast water full of Chinese marine organisms into Puget Sound. That’s about 12 times the estimated 200 or so permanent jobs the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) would provide at full build-out.
Here’s a thought – if Whatcom County is really as desperate for those 200 jobs as GPT proponents would have us believe, why don’t we simply build a couple of new elementary schools? Lots of new family-wage jobs would be created, with lasting benefit to Whatcom residents, and it would be a lot cheaper than the rail upgrades we’d all be stuck paying for with a coal terminal.
Let’s use our heads and not be taken in.
There is an old saying: “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Sometimes when something bad happens, it’s not always easy to find the silver lining. But in the case of Via Birch Bay Café and Bistro employees, it was easy to find that silver lining. It was our community.
For those of you who are unaware of what happened December 17, high winds and a “king tide” combined to do a lot of damage to Via Birch Bay Café. It has been closed for repairs ever since. But the good will of our community showed in so many ways. First our employees and their friends and families came down and helped clean up the seaweed, rocks, gravel and other debris deposited in the building. Other people brought heaters, tools, coffee and cookies. Whatcom County roads department staff did a fantastic job of quickly cleaning Birch Bay Drive and the parking areas.
On January 5, a fundraiser was organized by Peter and Ann Vanderzalm and Ken and Janet Russell, owners of CJ Wijns at Birch Bay. A spaghetti feed and silent auction was held for the benefit of Via Birch Bay and Birch Bay Consignment & Thrift employees. The staff at Via provided tables, chairs and cooking skills. So many different people provided things for the silent auction that it is impossible to thank everyone individually. But the main people to thank are the citizens of our community. They packed the house from 5 to 9 p.m. and over $8,500 dollars was raised.
On behalf of the employees at Via Birch Bay Café and Birch Bay Consignment & Thrift, we want to say thank you to all the community for the support and simply opening their hearts to us. Thank you!
Steve Hendricks, general manager
Via Birch Bay Café and Bistro
It bears repeating. Thank you Birch Bay, Blaine and Custer for your overwhelming response to our $25,000 challenge. Last August a local resident pledged to match donations to the Blaine Food Bank (BFB) up to $25,000 if our community would come together and donate an equal amount. BFB spread the word and soon donations began trickling in. By December 1, we raised over $20,000. When December 15 arrived, the checks were coming at a rapid pace. We succeeded. In four months, the volunteers raised over $30,000 in donations and our benefactor very happily donated his share of the challenge. As a result of your extreme generosity, BFB collected more than $35,000 by year’s end.
Although BFB’s 2013 budget increased by $60,000, our volunteers realize there are never guarantees for financial stability. In 2012, BFB served 2,353 more families than in 2011. In total, 16,412 families received aid from our agency. The total number represents 58,147 individuals who sought help in 2012.
It is a given that the economy is uncertain. There is no doubt these struggles will continue. What this means to BFB is there will be more people needing help in 2013 than in 2012. There will be more unemployed and working families relying on us as well as those who have needed our help all along. So BFB gratefully accepts your donations and the volunteers promise to use these funds for the benefit of our families.
BFB is taking this opportunity to issue its own challenge! We are challenging another local resident who has the wherewithal to challenge us back. Better yet, gather a group of financially solvent individuals to challenge the BFB. One person can make a difference but a collection of people who implement successful outcomes could also create a goal worthy of BFB’s ability to match funds. See you in August 2013!
In the meantime, BFB volunteers humbly express deep gratitude to our community for all you have done to help us help you.
Robin Kendall and the BFB volunteers
I was very grateful to read the article regarding the GPT’s wording from their “official application” and the “single large, open-air stockyard.”
Four years ago, I wondered, why did Birch Bay need an electrical substation? Then a year or so later, why were the two huge laminated power poles being erected? There did not seem to be any plausible reason. Was there some big business coming into little laid back Birch Bay? Even the restaurants couldn’t make it. The housing bubble had hit. Unemployment was becoming a fact that was hitting home.
Then a couple years later there were rumblings of a coal export dock. There would be maybe 600 to 800 jobs for the first couple of years while it was being built, then the jobs would drop back to just barely over 200. The job promises kept getting bigger. The big business people started laying out more and more statistics and spin. As all the spin and statistics increased, so did the confusion. It is at this point when the digging begins. Kind of reminds me of the old saying, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bull ...”
Why does the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce deem it unnecessary to hear the other side? At least the person had the gumption to admit that they had not read the official application due to length and being too busy. Perhaps this person should step down from the chamber when something such as this is so important, and has the lives of so many people at stake.
I also think about those huge ships from China waiting just off our coast, releasing their dirty ballast water into our seafood-laden waters. Ships of that size do not just “float in and float out.” They are scheduled, and in order to meet their schedule, they may have to sit waiting for a week. My oh my, won’t it be nice to walk the beach of our little community of Birch Bay and discover all kinds of ugly little things from the China Sea. Every day will be red tide day!
The following is a quote from a letter written by Paula Rotundi, and published in this paper dated January 3 - 9, 2013:
“Equally concerning is that many, perhaps most, GPT supporters seem to have been deliberately deceived into falsely believing …”
Deliberately deceived into falsely believing. Those words describe perfectly those that voted Obama back into the presidency. Don’t think for a minute that the U.S. government is not behind this whole thing. Thank you, Paula Rotundi, whoever you are, for digging into the facts and confronting the labor and business leaders with their own words – what they say and what they do are two different things. By the time it’s done, and done wrong, it will be blamed on someone else. Probably President Bush.