By Jack Louws
2015, aside from comprehensive new jail planning, was a year of technological advances and innovation for Whatcom County government.
Our fourth Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis began hearing cases in January. Our new mental health court also started processing cases.
Public works projects in 2015 included the Potter Road bridge replacement, completion of the full rehabilitation of the Hannegan corridor road surface (with the paving of 4 miles of Hannegan Road from Bellingham city limits to Hemmi Road) and new turn lanes and illumination at the intersections of Ferndale and Imhof roads.
The emergency medical services funding workgroup representing all EMS stakeholders met on a monthly basis. The EMS funding workgroup is tasked with recommending a funding strategy that will support and sustain a countywide emergency medical services system.
Planning and development services staff has prepared initial recommended revisions and amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan. The amendment process is lengthy with many public meetings, planning commission input and then review and approval by Whatcom County Council. This work must be completed by June 30, 2016.
County council will be reviewing amendments to the Point Roberts Character Plan as part of the 2016 long range planning work program. This will follow a proposal from the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee, submitted to planning and development services this year, to amend the character plan.
Our parks and recreation department has completed a draft Lookout Mountain and Lake Whatcom Park recreational trail plan and are now taking public comments regarding it. County council will review the plan in 2016. The charter review commission completed its work and those amendments were placed on the ballot in the general election.
Information technology has had a productive year. The county website was completely revamped; the phone system throughout all buildings and facilities has been replaced and new electronic document recording and imaging is available in the auditor’s office.
The general election results were certified in November. New terms start in January. The new jail bond levy proposition failed, council established the Incarceration Prevention Task Force, and approved the 2016 budget adjustments in November after a public hearing was held.
It has been a busy, challenging but very fruitful year for us. I wish everyone a very good 2016 and hope that all have a wonderful holiday season with friends and family.