Letters to the editor: September 26 - October 2, 2013

Published on Wed, Sep 25, 2013
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The Editor:
I am writing to express my support for Michael McAuley for Port of Bellingham commissioner, District 2. Those of us who know Mike know he is a rare and valuable politician – the kind who listens and does his homework.
For too long, the Port of Bellingham has seemed like a nebulous entity that conducts its business out of sight of the general public. Mike has been the only commissioner who has consistently pushed against the grain to advocate for better public access to port meetings, despite being voted down by the other commissioners each time.
He also lowered county-wide port taxes by 5 percent in his very first year on the commission, lowered mooring rates for local fisherman to get them in line with other harbors we were losing business to and saved taxpayers thousands of dollars with projects such as LED street lights at the Bellingham International Airport and the redevelopment of the index sensors and controls building, which is the port’s first LEED gold-certified building and provides taxpayers a 4.2 percent return on their investment.
Mike has been the strongest voice for a working waterfront that supports the men and women who make a living in industries there. He supports a new commercial boat marina that can be a catalyst to strengthen marine trades work and also better link us to Alaska.
Michael McAuley has already proven he will work tirelessly in the community’s interest and for the kind of economic development that’s best for Whatcom County. I hope you’ll join me in backing him this November.
Ray Wilkett

The Editor:
The Northwest Parks and Recreation District 2 (NWPRD2) tax levy will be put to a vote on November 5. I urge everyone to vote yes so that this organization can continue to provide the activities, classes and projects that are so vital to community health and well being. As a recent transplant from Arizona, I found that by involving myself in just a few of the many district offerings I was able to work on improving my health, meet people with my same interests, make new friends and feel at home right away. This is community building at its best and it’s what the parks district is all about.
The programs and projects that the levy will support are too numerous to list here, so in order to understand the importance of this issue, please visit the district’s website (nwparkandrec.org). NWPRD2 offers something for everyone, but this will not continue unless the levy passes. Please vote yes on November 5.
Sallie Cymbalski

The Editor:
As a 30-plus-year volunteer and the only Blaine volunteer firefighter still on the department who responded on the 1949 LaFrance, I believe that I have a pretty good understanding of the historical knowledge and significant value this fire engine had on our community. When the decision was made to surplus the ’49 fire engine, the city council decided that they could not donate it to the firefighter association, but they would sell it to us at a reasonable price. The volunteers paid for the engine out of funds they raised and personally donated. 
I agree that a piece of Blaine’s heritage is gone, but it will still be part of the Blaine community. Although it may not live within Blaine, it will be seen each year during the 4th of July parade, the delivery of Santa Claus and any other special community event that the Blaine volunteer firefighters are a part of. In addition to this, part of the agreement is that the fire engine will maintain the Blaine Fire Department stencil on each door, to show where this engine originated from when it is used during these events.
Over the past 10 years or so, the Blaine volunteer firefighters have tried to raise funds to improve the appearance and maintenance of the engine. This was done by asking for support and donations, but since we were unable to raise the money, and the volunteers could not afford the necessary improvements on their own, we had to make the tough decision. It took us four years to finally agree and part ways as the owners of the engine.
The new owner is a retired Bellingham firefighter and paramedic who has the passion to teach young kids about fire safety and plans on restoring the engine as he can over the next few years. In order to operate his non-profit organization, fire equipment and apparatus donations are needed. As members with emotional interest in this engine, we feel that the new owner will be able to bring back some of the historical and nostalgic significance of the ’49 fire engine.
Many may say that a piece of Blaine is gone, but I look at it as a piece of Blaine that is continuing to serve our community by promoting fire safety to hundreds if not thousands of young kids. Maybe one day one of those kids will be the next Blaine firefighter and say, “I could not have done this without the help of the ’49.”
Todd Berge

The Editor:
In the spirit of “Building Community,” (one of the four current strategic initiatives of the Whatcom County Library System,) the Blaine Library is celebrating the various cultures of its community’s residents throughout the year. Last week the spotlight fell on the Icelanders, and on Friday afternoon the library was magically transformed into a mini-Iceland. 
Many thanks go to the Blaine Icelandic Heritage Society members for sharing their amazing family photos and heirlooms, stories and books, and food and crafts. In their warm Icelandic spirit they helped enlighten us about the history and rich culture that had such an impact in the development of Blaine. Special thanks for Leona Olason, who coordinated the event so successfully, and for Rob Olason, for arranging the screening of the film, “Living with Lava,” which played to a packed house the previous evening. 
Next up will be a highlight on our Hispanic neighbors, with an open house scheduled for Dia de Los Muertos, Friday, November 1, from 2 to 5 p.m. Hope to see you then!
Debby Farmer
Blaine Library Branch Manager

The Editor:
I’d like to respond to the recent editorial written by Ferndale mayor Gary Jensen in the Bellingham Herald. He refers to concerned environmentalists as the extreme left on the issue of GPT, water quality and anything that deals with our warming planet.
It is a false equivalent to equate the environmentalists (who know that 97 percent of environmental scientists have proof that global climate changing is happening) with the “other side” of that debate stating that coal releasing mercury and arsenic in the air along with other greenhouse gases are not contributing to the heating of the planet. 
The facts are the facts. Mining, transporting, shipping and burning coal anywhere is a threat to the planet everywhere. It is not a debate that you can have because there is no other side to the truth. Would you listen to 97 percent of scientists or 3 percent?
Mayor Jensen’s editorial is why I urge everyone to vote for Carl Weimer, Rud Brown, Ken Mann and Barry Buchanan for county council. I do know that they understand that our environment is integral to why people come to Whatcom County to live, work, vacation and retire. 
Please don’t assume this election is no big deal because it isn’t a major election. Our nine county council members have the power to decide who will be allowed to use, preserve and manage our water as well as decide whether our community will be transformed into a major industrial county or not. The choice is in our hands.
Amy Glasser

The Editor: 
I recently met Rud Browne, a candidate for Whatcom County Council, and came away very impressed with his thoughtful intelligence and commitment to our community. 
Mr. Browne has a long track record for both creating local jobs while simultaneously committing to environmental protections. As a founder and CEO of Ryzex, his example rebuts the argument that creating jobs and protecting the environment are incompatible. 
Additionally, his experience as a businessman has provided him the opportunity to develop an array of creative ideas on how government regulations can be made more efficient. 
I am confident Rud Browne would bring an enlightened governance approach to the role of county councilman and urge you to vote for him.
Betsy Gross

The Editor:
Vote for transparency and accountability.
I am writing to express my support for Michael McAuley and Renata Kowalczyk for our port commission. Those of us who know Mike and Renata know they are the types of individuals who listen and do their homework. And that is exactly the kind of leadership we need at the port. 
Government works better when it’s transparent. And for too long the port has been a nebulous entity that conducts most of its business out of sight of the general public. Mike and Renata believe in transparency and accountability by, for example, rescheduling meeting times from afternoons to evenings or taping them for the web or TV. Each time Mike made these proposals during his current term, they were met with resistance from the other commissioners and staff. Yet, he vows to keep trying and with Renata’s help, success is within reach.
The port commission of next year will have a real and lasting impact on residents in terms of the type of development that occurs and the amount of public waterfront access that will be available. Mike and Renata have been endorsed by both labor and environmental groups. They share experience and dedication to ensure the best interests of the Whatcom County community at large. 
I hope you’ll join me in backing Mike and Renata when your ballot arrives this fall.
Ruth Higgins
Birch Bay

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