2001:The Year In Review

Published on Thu, Jan 3, 2002
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2001:The Year In Review

Once again, it’s time to look back at the year just concluded and consider the events that shaped the year and our lives in the year 2001.

January
• Bank Northwest announced plans for a Birch Bay branch.
After four years as chief of the Border Patrol Blaine sector, Carey James headed off into retirement.
• Dieter Schugt was selected as mayor pro tem of Blaine by fellow council members, replacing Frank Bresnan Jr. who announced he would not seek re-election in the fall.
• The border patrol nabbed 13 South Korean citizens who illegally crossed the border east of Blaine.
• Members of the Native Youth Movement lit a ceremonial fire under the Peace Arch in support of efforts to free jailed activist and convicted murderer Leonard Peltier.
• U.S. Customs put plans to stop passenger trains at the border for inspection on hold after a request from the Washington delegation.
• Newly elected Congressman Rick Larsen toured border facilities and urged greater coordination of border agencies.

February
• Over 350 Birch Bay residents signed up for neighborhood committees to put in their two cents’ worth during the Birch Bay planning process.
• Bonneville Power Administration announced wholesale power rates could double within a year.
• Local garden designer Dianna MacLeod earned a spot at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle.
• Blaine chamber of commerce protested Blaine tourism and advisory committee plans to cut off city funding for events such as Skywater.
• The state parks commission approved a day use vehicle fee for state parks.
Dennis Ellis was sentenced to 90 days in jail for intentionally setting fire to his parents’ Adelia Street home.

March
• Blaine school district decided to take a $20 million dollar bond to the voters to fund new facilities and upgrades.
• City manager Gary Tomsic traveled to Washington D.C. is search of funding for a regional sewer project and came back empty-handed with the message to start early in the federal budget cycle next year. The city committed $10,000 to a study of alternatives to address sewer needs.
• Close to 200 people converged on Resort Semiahmoo for the first Bite of Blaine, a sampling of the best of local cuisine.
• The newest version of plans for a new border facility turned to the railroad rather than the park for room to grow.
• City planners asked for and got a third extension on back to back six-month moratoriums on manufactured housing.
• Interpretive signs went up at Blaine Marine Park.
• The airport capital facilities plan called for $5 million in improvements in the next decade.
• BP Cherry Point Refinery began the application process for an electrical cogeneration plant added to the refinery site.
• Ten Blaine students were selected to show their work at the Whatcom Museum of Art and History.
• Birch Bay chamber of commerce members rallied to get the Discovery Days ball rolling after a rash of resignations left few planners on the board.
• U.S. Census results showed Birch Bay was the fastest growing community in the county in the last decade of the twentieth century.
• Blaine city council approved a new tourism plan that channeled funding away from events and into capital projects.
• Blaine mayor John Hobberlin, after ten years at the gavel, resigned from council and moved to Florida. He was replaced by Dieter Schugt.
• The ARCO station on D Street reopened.

April
• Blaine welcomed 1,600 students from 175 Washington schools for the state math championship.
• Blaine officially endorsed an agreement between Amtrak and White Rock to stop the northbound Seattle train in White Rock. Senator Georgia Gardner, who had been lobbying to get the train stop in Blaine, was miffed.
• Blaine community theater held their first poetry reading at Blackberry House.
• Annie’s Place closed its doors and the Magners opened the more upscale La Bonne Maison.
• Mike Myers was appointed to fill the seat left vacant after the resignation of John Hobberlin.
• Ron Henley took over as the new Chief Border Patrol Agent for the Blaine Sector.
• Kiwanis club plans for an Olde English Faire were put off until next summer and the chamber started fundraising to keep Skywater and Fourth of July fireworks going.
• The GSA held another public meeting to try and find an expansion solution for the Peace Arch border crossing without taking a big bite out of the park or cutting off traffic into downtown Blaine.
• County council turned down a proposal to rezone 300 acres in Birch Bay to short term planning status to allow increased density. Council said they wanted to see the Birch Bay planning process complete first.
• Over 2,000 opponents of the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement gathered for a rally in Peace Arch Park. Hundreds of law enforcement officers stood by in case violence, which marked other anti-globalization rallies, broke out. It never did.
• A Blaine high school student was lucky to be alive after his car was creamed by a semi at the Boblett Street intersection.
• Work started on the new Blender youth center in the old Red Apple building on Peace Portal Drive in space donated by Brown and Cole Stores.
• The Blaine high school math team took first place in the topical problems division at the state math championship.

May
• The Blaine planning commission recommended a manufactured home ordinance that would ban the homes in residential neighborhoods, limiting them to special parks and subdivisions.
• Birch Bay water and sewer district released a feasibility study for a joint sewer system with the city of Blaine. The proposed system was very feasible, if the parties could come up with the $32 million to build it.
• Drayton Harbor Maritime premiered the documentary “Sockeye and the Age of Sail: The Story of the Alaska Packers Association,” the work of Point Roberts native and fishing industry patriarch Bob Thorsteinson.
• The fourth annual Peace Arch international sculpture exhibition got rolling, bigger and better than ever.
• BP Cherry Point applied to the state to build a 750-megawatt power plant.
• The Sigga Lyn II carried the memorial wreath to be laid in the waters of Semiahmoo Bay following the annual fishers memorial and the blessing of the fleet.
• Faced with skyrocketing power prices, Intalco agreed to shut down its Cherry Point aluminum smelter, while the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) promised to pay the 930 Intalco employees until October, 2003. The closure will be reviewed every six months until then to see if an improved power situation could merit reopening.
• The proposed $20 million Blaine school bond gained voter approval by the slimmest of margins.
• Fire district #13 chief David England proposed uniting all the northwest county fire districts into one larger entity.
• A new, expanded Blaine Marine Services opened its doors.
• Made up of representatives from twenty neighborhoods, the Birch Bay steering committee began to plan for a community of 12,000 in 20 years.
• Volunteers began preparing the beds for the reintroduction of oyster farming in Drayton Harbor. The community oyster farm is banking on improving water quality to allow them to harvest the oyster crop in three years. Proceeds from the farm will support water quality improvement projects.
• Birch Bay Water and Sewer District raised its rates by 3.5 percent.
• Blaine city council approved new rules for manufactured homes, limiting them to a 300-acre area in East Blaine.

June
• Shirley Reeder, former Blaine resident and treasurer of the Pacific Arts Foundation, was summonsed to appear in Superior Court and face charges she stole over $10,000 from the foundation.
• Two art galleries, the Blaine Open Studio and the Art Center, popped up in Blaine.
A plane flying from Point Roberts to Everett crashed in a field near Point Whitehorn, killing both occupants. Alexander Zuyev was a decorated Russian fighter pilot who in 1989 had defected from the Soviet Union in a MiG-29. Mike Warren attracted media attention in 1998 as the pilot who hung upside down from wires at Boeing Field. The cause of the crash remains unknown.
• Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic came back from a junket to Washington D.C. empty handed. Tomsic had been seeking funding for the proposed regional sewer but was told the city had started looking too late in the federal budget process.
• Under an agreement with BPA, the city’s largest power users agreed to cut back on power use and get paid for it.
• City council picked a stoplight at the Boblett Street intersection with the truck route as the top transportation priority for the next five years.
• The city switched law firms, selecting Chmelik, Sitkin and Davis to represent Blaine.
• The Plover veered off course to rescue a man who had fallen off his boat in Drayton Harbor.
• A tanker unloading at the Tosco refinery spilled over 1,500 gallons of crude, sparking a multi-agency cleanup.
• Drayton Harbor Community Oyster farm planted 300 bags of oyster seed.
• Canada Customs agents seized over 100 pounds of cocaine at the Pacific Highway crossing, the largest seizure on record at a western land border.
• The Lummi Nation and the city of Blaine signed a settlement agreement at the Semiahmoo wastewater treatment plant where Lummi ancestral remains were dug up.
• Proponents of an elected mayor petitioned to ask voters to reject the city manager system of government.
• Don Walter and Lila Young donated land along Cain Creek to for part of a greenbelt and protect the waterway.
The C-Shop celebrated 30 years catering to local sweet teeth.

July
• City council hosted a series of neighborhood meetings to get input on local priorities.
Fire districts three, five and 13 signed a consolidation agreement to form a unified fire and rescue service for the north county. District 13 chief David England was named chief of the larger organization and Mike Campbell, Point Roberts fire chief, was named assistant chief.
• Park fanciers formed the Friends of Birch Bay State Park organization to help improve and promote the park.
• A county sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a Birch Bay man suspected of assault after the man threatened the deputy with a knife.
The fishing boat Glory sank at the dock.
• A new antique store opened on Third Street and Olason’s Corkscrew Willow, a gift shop, opened on Peace Portal Drive.
• The three-day International Arts Festival in Peace Arch Park opened with rainbows created by Fred Stern with the help of local fire departments.
City council approved a 22 percent electricity rate hike for the fall to help cushion a 46 percent hike in the cost of wholesale power from BPA.
• Faced with tears from a potential property owner, city council voted to set aside the newly adopted manufactured home ordinance so she could put one of the homes on a city lot.
• City council adopted a new sign regulation reducing the size of signs, lowering them and banning billboards. City staff was directed to develop a plan for shared signage to fill in for the loss of pull from the highway.

August
David England abruptly resigned as chief of fire district 13 and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Services. He was replaced in that position by Mike Campbell, who then resigned as Point Roberts fire chief.
Eight candidates filed for a spot on the ballot this fall, vying for four positions on city council. Birch Bay resident Sharon Roy put her name in the ring as a county council candidate.
Birch Bay Water and Sewer District was honored by the state department of ecology for being one of the few sewer plants in the state with a flawless environmental record in 2000.
• The city’s manufactured home ordinance got another tweak as council adopted a provision to allow owners of older mobile homes a one time shot at replacing them with a new manufactured unit.
• Blaine police began fundraising for a canine unit.
• The day before state and local officials met to discuss Boblett Street safety concerns, five people were injured in a two-car accident in the intersection.
Birch Bay Water and Sewer district got the state go-ahead to serve the wastewater needs of the Cherry Point BP refinery and 10,000 feet of sewer line went in along Grandview and Point Whitehorn roads.
• City council officially endorsed a $1.6 million bond to build a new fire station to go before voters in September.
• A Canadian man was arrested for arson and attempted murder after he doused a local doctor and a patient with gasoline and tried to set them on fire.
• Congressman Rick Larsen toured Lister Bolt and Chain in Blaine after the company won a five-year contract to supply all the U.S. Coast Guard’s mooring chain.
• The Blaine Extreme Sports Club was founded to work towards a permanent skate park in the city.
• Volunteers with the Blaine beautification committee dug into their first project – cleaning up the vacant Costa Azul building on Peace Portal Drive.
• Department of fish and wildlife officers made one of their biggest seizures in recent years after busting a crabber for jumping the gun on the commercial crab opening and violating gear rules. Officers seized 1,200 pounds of crab.
• City council continued to water down the manufactured home ordinance by modifying it to again allow manufactured homes on all lots in the city if the property owner meets certain criteria.
• The city approved a lease with United Helicopters to establish a heliport at the Blaine airport.

September
• Trillium vp Ken Hertz and Blaine mayor Dieter Schugt were part of the welcoming party as an Amtrack train made a stop in White Rock, commemorating a newly signed agreement with Amtrak to reestablish the stop if White Rock meets certain conditions.
• Local law enforcement pursued and caught smugglers in fatigues and flak jackets to find they were only smuggling three pounds of marijuana.
• The National Marine Fisheries Service agreed to review the status of south Puget Sound orcas to determine their eligibility for endangered status.
• The Peace Arch celebrated its 80th anniversary.
• Following attacks that levelled the World Trade Center in New York and left a gaping hole in the Pentagon, a security clamp-down at the border resulted in long lines and community spirit saw lines at blood donation location. At the foot of the Peace Arch, residents from both sides of the border held a candlelight vigil.
• City council approved a special porn zone in Blaine, prohibiting adult businesses in any other parts of town. The ordinance does not allow non-conforming businesses like the Blaine Book Company to stay in their current location but gives them time to move.
• The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) terminated the PACE commuter lane program because of security concerns.
• Visiting the Blaine borders, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen and Senator Maria Cantwell pledged more resources to ease border congestion.
• Voters approved the bond for a new fire station but turned down the proposal to return to an elected mayor and drop the current council-manager form of government.

October
• Local businesses reported 50 percent or greater drops in trade following the September 11 attacks as border traffic dropped by a similar figure, travellers deterred by long lines. In meetings with Larsen, they pushed for more border staffing.
• Touring the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District facility, state representative Doug Ericksen promised to help find funding for a regional sewer system, pointing to Pipeline settlement dollars as a possible funding source.
• City manager Gary Tomsic was short-listed for a job as Walla Walla city manager but opted against the move after learning that the change of government referendum had failed and he could keep his job in Blaine.
• State transportation secretary Doug MacDonald pledged to get a stoplight in at the Boblett Street intersection after state Senator Georgia Gardner brought him for a visit.
• Geographics announced plans to close its Blaine operation by February, resulting in a loss of over 100 local jobs.
• U.S. Representative Rick Larsen asked the INS to reopen the PACE lane with added security to ease the burden on cross-border commuters and businesses that depend on Canadian clientele.
• City council bumped the lodging tax rate by one percent.
• Public Utilities District #1 representatives came to Blaine to discuss plans to bring fiber optic data and phone lines to the area.
• As an offshoot of the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster farm, volunteers worked on a six-month water-quality monitoring program around the harbor.
• Ten additional INS inspectors were posted to local borders to try to keep more lanes open.
• The FBI did not find enough evidence to follow up on a local anthrax scare involving white powder in payphone coin returns.
• The Blender youth center on Peace Portal Drive opened its doors.
• Planning and fundraising moved forward to expand and improve Plover facilities at both ends of the historical ferry’s run, which could lead to an expansion of Plover service.
• City council approved a planned skate park behind the library.
• Santa rode into town in a storm of Harleys, bearing gifts for the local Giving Tree program.

November
• Local seiner Delta Dawn was a complete write-off after a fire gutted the vessel.
• The addition of 21 border patrol agents to staff manning local ports of entry led to more open lanes and lighter lines.
The Blaine Chamber of Commerce kicked off the Shop Blaine First program, rewarding local shoppers for keeping their dollars at home.
• At the autumn border business conference in Bellingham, INS representatives effectively sealed the coffin on the PACE program but said a higher security program, NEXUS, was a good possibility to replace it.
TechHaus, a German housing manufacturer, announced plans to open a 300-job plant in Blaine.
• City council incumbents thumped challengers in the election. Bruce Wolf was the only newcomer to the dais, alongside incumbents Marsha Hawkins, Mike Myers and Bonnie Onyon.
• The U.S. border patrol began installing cameras in Blaine as part of a line of surveillance equipment stretching from the Cascades to the sea.
• Kira’s Grill opened in the International Center and the Bordertown Tavern re-opened in a new location on Peace Portal Drive.
• Tight on money, city council voted to raise property taxes one percent and keep big capital projects on the back burner.
• Over 70 families signed up for help at Christmastime from the Giving Tree program.
• Volunteers cooked and delivered over 50 turkey dinners to local families in need of a little help.
• In response to threats on national security local water systems beefed up security
• State fish and wildlife officers seized close to $30,000 worth of gear from Canadian crabbers fishing on the wrong side of the line.
• A new breakwater for Blaine Harbor got final permits approved to schedule a spring start for the project.
• The Blaine food bank celebrated its 30th year.
• The state budget crunch put funding for new Plover facilities on the Semiahmoo side on hold.

Pictures
Sky Water (June)
Discovery Days (July)
Art Festivals/Sculptures (July)
Plover days, Lady Washington (July/August)
Lawn tractor races (August 16)
Peace Arch anniversary (September)
Make a difference Day (November 1)
Points of Light (Nov-22)

Favorite Headline
Devilish golfer runs amuck – Nov.8 p.3.

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