We began 2022 in flood recovery mode and ended the year with a flood watch on the Nooksack River and localized flooding along coastal areas throughout the county, as nature again reminded us of the risks associated with living in close proximity to water. Thankfully, damage from the king tides and storm surges was largely superficial, and the Birch Bay berm performed well. Whatcom County is assessing the damage from these recent events, and I will continue to work with state and federal partners to build community resilience to severe weather events.
The past year was a time of reflection, planning and action. As we learned to live with Covid-19, our eyes turned toward long-standing concerns. Whatcom County adopted a budget that expands the number of sheriff deputies by approximately 10 percent, creates new capacity to respond to people experiencing mental health crises, invests in broadband infrastructure in rural communities and bolsters our flood preparedness.
The county is also preparing to make significant capital investments in new facilities. Postponed investments are mounting, future construction costs are increasing and the public is being poorly served by our antiquated facilities, such as the county jail. This past year we engaged in extensive outreach efforts to gather public input and assess our community’s needs. I anticipate this will culminate in 2023 with a request to voters to consider funding for a new public safety and justice facility.
Last year, we said goodbye to ArriveCAN and hello to many friends and family members who live across the border. I am thankful for being able to gather once again, and my wish for all the people of Whatcom County is the opportunity to spend quality time with those you love in the New Year.
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