Year in Review 2015: A look back at the year that just was

By Meg Olson

January

• The community rallied with donations after a thief at the fire station stole the firefighters’ association boot drive funds, destined to help the local food bank. Spearheaded by Auntie Pam’s Country Store, a fundraising drive to replace the funds brought in thousands of dollars.

• The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) struggled with what, if any, role it should play in ensuring local compliance with county codes, following a backlash after the committee drew up and submitted to the county a list of violations.

• The Party on the Point at Kiniski’s Reef Tavern raised over $10,000 to help pay the legal bills for the Cross Border Coalition to Stop the Towers, while the proceeds from the annual artisans guild fair kicked in another $2,000.

February

• The Whatcom County Council voted unanimously to uphold the county hearing examiner’s denial of a conditional use permit to build an AM radio tower farm on the Point.

• Increased sharing of travelers’ biographic information between U.S. and Canadian border agencies raised concerns for Canadians who regularly travel to the U.S.

• The Cottages at Seabright Farm began construction of public access stairs connecting their bluff trail to the beach.

• Seeing a surge of code violation reports coming from Point Roberts, county staff turned to PRCAC for input about what should be community code enforcement priorities.

• A group of community members proposed a caregivers cooperative to help residents get in-home services they need.

March

• San Juan Airlines began offering regular service to Point Roberts.

• County code enforcement officer Garrett Faddis met with two dozen community members to address concerns the rules aren’t getting enforced on the Point.

• Fire commissioners unanimously approved emergency funding for new equipment to improve communications with county dispatchers.

• Voters approved a $45 million bond the Blaine school district will use for much-needed upgrades.

• Jayson Loreen became the newest resident deputy for Point Roberts, after a year of spotty coverage for the Point.

• Somebody ran down Whidbey Telecom’s courtesy phone booth on Tyee Drive.

April

• Fire district commissioners bumped the budget for radio upgrades from $50,000 to $70,000 after a study found the Point riddled with “dead spots” where firefighters were unable to communicate with dispatch.

• Efforts to get the law changed and give Point Roberts more flexibility in how it spends gas tax funds stalled in the state legislature.

• BBC Broadcasting took its appeal of Whatcom County’s denial of its permit to build an array of AM towers to Book2Skagit County Superior Court.

• The Tiny Art Show at Auntie Pam’s Country Store raised over $800 for charities including Dollars for Scholars.

• A Richmond, B.C. antique dealer was sentenced to 30 months in jail for attempting to smuggle rhinoceros horns out of Point Roberts.

• The public stairs to the beach opened at Seabright Farm, creating a loop route through Lily Point Marine Park and the new development.

May

Fire chief Christopher Carleton asked commissioners for a long-term contract. They approved the requested 15-year contract, which included hefty severance pay should he be let go.

• Concerns about limited law enforcement presence on the Point were heightened after a bar fight turned into vehicular assault and there was no response to a 911 call. It turned out the call, made from a Canadian cell phone, never made it through to Whatcom County dispatch, highlighting the importance of telling 911 operators where you are.

• Regular water quality testing began at Maple Beach.

• Jack Louws and Barbara Brenner were the featured guests at the Point Roberts Registered Voters Association annual general meeting.

• The new board of directors of the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce began working to revitalize the organization and increase involvement.

June

• Whidbey Telecom representatives attended the May 4 meeting of the Point Roberts Taxpayers Association to talk about the company’s intention to improve and expand service to Point Roberts.

• Less than a week after reopening most of the county’s beaches for shellfish harvesting, the Whatcom County Health Department closed all beaches to recreational shellfish harvesting north of Sandy Point, including Point Roberts.

• The community market and the Point Roberts Homegrown Coop farm stand got underway for the season.

• A group of Asian investors in Boundary Bay Investments LLC purchased the Point Roberts Marina.

• The fire district’s insurance rating was improved from a six to a five, giving homeowners the opportunity to contact their insurance company for a better rate.

July

• The Fourth of July was fantastic!

• After six years, the new dock finally went in at Lighthouse Marine Park.

• Lighthouse society members Dorothy and Darrel Sutton offered to put up half a million dollars to fast-track plans to get a real lighthouse at Lighthouse Marine Park.

• PRCAC asked the county to look at the feasibility of traffic circles at the Gulf Road/Marine Drive intersection and the Tyee Drive/Benson Road intersection.

• Bellingham City Council rejected a cost-sharing agreement to fund a proposed new jail for the county.

• Kiniski’s Reef introduced kayak and paddleboard rentals.

• Auntie Pam’s Country Store celebrated their third year.Pipers2

• Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office deputy Tom McCarthy joined Jayson Loreen as a resident deputy on the Point.

August

• The dock at Lighthouse Marine Park failed in moderate weather conditions, with county parks staff suggesting it was due to a design flaw. The dock was removed with no timeline for replacement.

• Visiting Point Roberts, congresswoman Suzan DelBene recognized the individuals and agencies who worked together to save the life of a man who suffered a near-fatal heart attack at the port of entry.

• County planning staff were featured at the Point Roberts Taxpayers’ Association annual meeting, where the focus was on code enforcement, or the lack of it.

• The Full Moon Boom drum circle brought together drummers of all ages and abilities to play and raise funds for Dollars for Scholars.

Water quality test results from Maple Beach continued to meet or exceed standards.

• Whatcom County code compliance staff had taken action on seven of the 14 code violations reported to them in November 2014.

• After 32 years in business, Liberty Wine Store on Gulf Road closed its doors.

• Three of five parks commissioners were opposed to incurring debt to fill any shortfall in funds for the new library without input from voters, and later opposed an proposed advisory vote as premature.

• The Trinity Church Summer Music Camp performed David and Goliath to a large crowd as part of the 20th Point Roberts Arts and Music Festival.

September

• Aaron Johnson became the new ranger for Whatcom County parks on the Point.PR-Homegrown-Co-op

• The revised character plan went to the county for technical review.

• The Point Roberts Park and Recreation District formed a new subcommittee to work on a comprehensive plan for local parks.

• PRCAC unanimously endorsed the Lighthouse Society’s proposal to build a lighthouse at Lighthouse Marine Park, calling on the county to work to expeditiously get the project built.

• McFrugals Parcel Service took first place in the Reef’s cardboard boat race.

• The fire department open house was an opportunity to learn about emergency services, preparedness and medical services on the Point.

• Another fundraising concert at the Cottages at Seabright Farm raised $15,000 for the Cross Border Coalition to Stop the Towers legal fund.

• The Welcome Marionettes performed “Popeye’s Picnic” at the community center.

October

• Character plan review committee members reported the county would not be completing its review of the revised plan until 2016, and PRCAC members agreed the community review should get underway parallel with that process.

Local deputies began issuing a barrage of $74 tickets to the owners of off-leash dogs.

Whidbey Telecom filed its objection to the renewal of BBC Broadcasting’s license with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unless the company abandoned plans for its tower farm in Point Roberts.

• The Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network offered training on the Point so a network of local responders could be formed.

• The fire department began the process of being officially licensed as an intermediate life-support provider.

• Parks district commissioners came up with a mission statement and a starter set of ideas for the future that will serve as a springboard for developing their comprehensive plan.

• The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and tribal police seized 674 illegal crab pots from Boundary Bay and Semiahmoo Bay.

   November

• Deputy Tom McCarthy told PRCAC the Point was “under new management” and pledged to continue ticketing off-leash dogs in public areas, stating that despite the outcry from dog owners, many community members had thanked him.

• PRCAC member John Lesow proposed that parts of Lighthouse Marine Park and Maple Beach be declared off-leash areas, and parks commissioners considered having a portion of the Baker Field property off-leash.

• A former firefighter landed in jail after lying about being on a firefighting call to use the NEXUS lane and jump the line.

• A nationwide computer glitch slowed the NEXUS lane to a crawl.

• The friends of the library announced they were close to reaching their fundraising goal for construction of a new library.

• A Skagit County Superior Court judge upheld Whatcom County’s denial of BBC Broadcasting’s application to build an AM radio tower array on the Point.

• A packed dais at the voters association’s candidates night was limited to county positions, while local candidates skipped the forum at their event and stuck to a “meet and greet” format.

  December

• County voters rejected the proposition to fund a new jail. Locally, fire commissioner Stan Riffle narrowly held onto his seat, beating challenger Judson Meraw by 13 votes. Arthur Reber defeated Wayne Knowles for a seat on the water district board.

• BBC Broadcasting told the FCC they would not appeal the Skagit County Superior Court decision, but the coalition opposing the project held off their celebration until the appeal period was officially over.

• Ian Tait, Delta Chamber of Commerce executive director and Tsawwassen Mills general manager Mark Fenwick spoke at the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting about development north of the border and the opportunities it offered the Point.

• For the first time in four years, fire district commissioners agreed to raise taxes.

• Parks district commissioners took their allowable annual 1 percent tax increase and were looking at enough carryover to build up their reserves.

• The Downtown Wackie Walkers celebrated 13 years and 92,000 miles of collective walking.

• The entrance to Lily Point Marine Park at the end of Cedar Point Drive was closed indefinitely due to erosion of the trail at the ravine.

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