Letters to The Editor: February 1-7, 2024


Editor’s note: The Northern Light does not publish political support letters a week before an election. This week’s issue was the last week to have such letters published.


The Editor:

We can never let the chaos and injustice make us so blind with anger that we become part of the problem. Understanding, compassion and kindness are the only true revolutionary ideas. When we compromise those, we lose our humanity.

Nancy Hamilton



The Editor:

I read, then re-read several times your reporting on January 25 of the Blaine City Council meeting of January 22. I wasn’t sure if I was reading a review of a TV sitcom.

On what planet are recordings from anonymous “Professors” (who, in the age of AI, may not even be real people) allowed to be heard in a public hearing claiming city officials of malfeasance and in-person speakers claiming to be Star Wars characters allowed to make allegations?

Questions to power are the rights of citizens, and should be applauded, but if this city council allows this to be a joke, the Save Blaine is right for the wrong issues.

Jay Tyrrell



The Editor:

I would like to start a conversation with our community about the service challenges we are facing at North Whatcom Fire and Rescue. Our call volumes have almost doubled in the last 10 years. EMS calls have increased by 50 percent and now account for most of our calls. Multiple emergencies happening at the same time are also occurring more frequently. As a result, we are seeing longer response times.

Revenue from our fire levy has not kept up with demand for services, inflation and costs to provide services. We are limited by state law to just a one percent revenue increase per year, which is no longer adequate to meet the emergency service needs of our community.

We need additional emergency personnel to respond to higher call volumes and staff our fire stations adequately so we can reach you faster in an emergency. We also need to put into service an additional response unit for medical emergencies. Several apparatus have reached the end of their service lives and need to be replaced, all of which are crucial for better response.

Our busiest station in Birch Bay needs to be replaced to add additional space for responding personnel and meet current health and safety standards.

We are considering asking voters for a fire levy lid lift sometime this year to fund these service improvements. This will be a public process and the community will have an opportunity to provide feedback before a final decision is made by the Board of Fire Commissioners. Please learn more at www.nwfrs.com.

Jason Van Der Veen

Chief, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue


The Editor:

Is Blaine school district’s February 13 proposed $70 million capital bond premature?

From phone calls and emails to and from the school district, treasurer and Whatcom County Assessor’s Office, information I needed about the capital bond seems unavailable. I asked the school district to send me a line-item spreadsheet listing the various capital cost projects making up to $70 million and the timing and costs attributed to each item. That spreadsheet must exist. It was a reasonable request. Nothing was provided.

I was told the district is replacing their finance director, but I do not know why or whether the district still stands by their numbers.

I also asked whether the school district had considered applying for federal funds under any of the 2021 $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan stimulus bill, the $2.2 trillion Cares Act or the 2023 $550 billion Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act – apparently, there are pots of money that state and local agencies can still apply for to be used for specific projects such as upgrading school air quality and ventilation systems and other construction projects.

I was told the school district would add the infrastructure bill to a list of items to discuss with leaders.

$70 million is a substantial sum and I do not have the information necessary to appreciate the reasons or pricing for the projects or the probable increases in property taxes resulting from the bond.

By February 13, we won’t have our 2024 property tax bills. Every year, we face increases in our property taxes and yet, by February 13, we will not have the information we need to assess our desire/ability to pay even more.

As taxpayers, we are already paying for the federal infrastructure and relief bills, but it appears to me that no one here has attempted to apply for federal funds so that the local taxpayers do not have to pay twice.

The school board needs to complete its research and investigation. I will be rejecting the $70 million capital bond proposition.

Jack H. Grant


(Editor’s note: It was reported in the January 25 issue of The Northern Light that Blaine school district finance director Amber Porter was leaving to take a position at the Oak Harbor school district.)


The Editor:

The Blaine school district’s bond and levy request on the February 13 ballot deserves voter support.

The measures are straightforward. They are not extravagant. The levy pays for an assortment of academic efforts including smaller classes, sports and clubs, curriculum materials, buses and more – all additional services schools need to provide high-quality educational opportunities for students that are not covered by the state. The bond measure brings Blaine Middle School into the 21st century as well as revamping and replacing aging electrical and mechanical systems throughout the district. Changes in health and safety rules require updates. These projects tie directly into academic improvement.

The replacement educational programs and operations levy accounts for 17 percent of the district’s operating budget. It replaces the expiring levy.

Without levy funds, we will lose many teachers and support staff like our secretaries, bus drivers, custodians, lunchroom support, recess supervision and help with reading groups. The district supplements special-education services with levy dollars as it does with athletics and music and drama programs. The levy allows the district to provide educational opportunities not covered by state funds.

The levy does not raise property taxes; it continues the same levy rate. We get a smart return on our levy dollars.

A tour of Blaine Middle School alone makes the case for the capital bond. No updates have been made to the outdated school in 20 years. The school desperately needs better coordinated areas for student learning, safety and security; updated technology in classrooms; and revamped electrical and mechanical systems. The bond would update Pipeline Sports Fields and the Performing Arts Center, facilities used by the entire community, and cover playground and lighting improvements at Point Roberts Primary. Additionally, the bond will allow the district to develop preliminary designs for a future Birch Bay elementary.

Our school district has been a good steward of the money Blaine-area voters have provided. The two measures are essential to maintaining our excellent schools and staff. We’re fortunate our community understands this and has strongly supported our schools in past elections.

We urge you to vote yes for both measures.

Julie Creager and Dane Ulrich, co-presidents of Blaine Education Association

Shane Levetsovitis, president and Allison Miller, vice president of Blaine Chapter Service Employees International Union

The Editor:

How many readers know that Whatcom County has no representation on the PeaceHealth Medical System Governing Board?

How many know that health services decisions that affect you, your family, your neighbors, your doctors and our only hospital are made by people who do not live in our community?

PeaceHealth has medical facilities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. St. Joseph Hospital is the sole hospital for over 230,000 people in Whatcom County.

How can PeaceHealth justify the fact that we have no representation on the system governing board? Five of the seats are filled by three people from California, one from Denver and one from Chicago. What are we, chopped liver?

When PeaceHealth administrators in Vancouver, Washington announced last May it was shutting down outpatient palliative care (OPPC) and other services, a letter-writing blitz and other protests led to corporate management’s decision to reinstate OPPC. (However, we still do not know the operational details of the reinstatement.)

This untenable lack of representation on the system governing board can be easily rectified – as soon as PeaceHealth management exercises its will to make it happen.

I encourage readers to contact Charles Prosper, head of PeaceHealth’s NW Network in Bellingham, to request, on behalf of the community where he works and lives, to relay our “ask” of representation to PeaceHealth’s top management in Vancouver.

Sheri Lambert



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