A Look Back at the Year That Just Was

By Meg Olson

January

• With close to $1 million sitting in the Point Roberts gas tax fund, the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) and the county began to prioritize what projects it gets spent on.

• The Point Roberts Hospital District put out a short survey to gauge what the community needed from the clinic in the wake of a drop in users.

• The driving force behind fundraising for the new library, Judy Ross, along with her late husband Ed Park, were recognized for their work by the Whatcom County Library System as construction on the new library moved forward.

• Residents of a Point Roberts home got out in time with their pets thanks to smoke detectors when fire destroyed their home.

February

• County parks plans for new playground equipment at Lighthouse Marine Park were shelved due to a budget shortfall in the boardwalk replacement project.

• The Point Roberts fire department announced plans to add a community paramedic program providing medical home visits.

• Both the food bank and the historical society asked the parks board for permission to use some of the space in the community center that would be freed up when the library moved to its new home.

• The water district had to find a new home after Best Time RV took over the office and property at 79 Tyee Drive looking to consolidate and expand their operations.

• High winds met high tides resulting in flooding at Maple Beach, power outages around the Point and flying patio furniture.

• New owners of the golf course, renamed Bald Eagle Golf Club at Point Roberts, stepped up investment in the property, renovating the course and buildings for a spring reopening.

March

• With a goal of implementation by January 2019, the county health department and PRCAC moved ahead with plans to eliminate exemptions from mandatory garbage pickup in Point Roberts.

• Brad Denson took over as port director at the Point Roberts U.S. port of entry.

• A jewel-encrusted roaming toilet was one of several fundraisers launched by community members rallying to help longtime resident Bradley Everett with the cost of fighting cancer.

• A report by Environment and Climate Change Canada concluded that adding a second container terminal at Roberts Bank would cause irreversible environmental damage.

• The Point Roberts water district relocated their offices to the former Liberty Wine Store building on Gulf Road. The move is expected to be temporary with the district intending to build a new office and shop on Benson Road in 2019.

• The Point Roberts Parent Teacher Organization cancelled their annual Easter egg hunt because of time conflicts with the spring break plans of too many of the association members who put together and hide the thousands of eggs.

April

• Point Roberts Hospital District superintendent Elaine Komusi resigned citing growing professional and family demands and the negativity that came with numerous “unnecessary and at times repeat” requests for records by Shannon Tomsen and Victor Riley, whose intent she stated was “a relentless pursuit to find negative things” about the clinic.

• The fire department began to offer home care services under a state law that allows emergency service providers to offer non-emergent care to community members with the goal of reducing dependence on 911 for routine medical needs.

• Paul Beauchemin joined the team at the Bald Eagle Golf Club at Point Roberts as the club manager and golf professional as the revitalized golf course prepared to reopen.

• The International Marketplace helped out efforts by the Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness group to get a new emergency response team trailer with a fat $1,000 donation.

• Former Lighthouse Marine Park manager Ben Van Buskirk was hired as the new program and facilities coordinator for the Point Roberts park and recreation district.

With leadership changes in the works at the Point Roberts Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Point Interface administrator Al Conahan took over the community electronic information service as a private enterprise that begun as a fundraiser for PAWS.

May

• The attrition continued at the Point Roberts Hospital District as commissioner Robin Nault, recognizing “the timing is not ideal,” submitted her resignation. Nault said she would be moving to Tsawwassen and no longer met residency requirements for her position.

• New PRCAC chair Jeff Christopher said that while solid waste issues have dominated the committee’s agenda for the last year, he wanted to see things like code revisions and economic development back on the agenda.

• Close to 100 people attended a downhill discussion hosted by PRCAC on the proposed mandatory solid waste pickup service for Point Roberts. While most attending supported making garbage collection mandatory, there was concern the base level of service being proposed, one can every other week, was too high.

• PRCAC members endorsed a proposal by the local garden club to use a portion of the Point’s one-cent gas tax to maintain plantings along Tyee Drive.

• Saturday Morning Market opened for the season at the Gulf Road community center parking lot.

• A smaller refurbished boardwalk was opened to patrons of Lighthouse Marine Park. The Orca Center was removed permanently and the ship play structure was also removed for upgrades.

• Whatcom County planning staff moved forward with a zoning text amendment to allow Best Time RV to construct a building for RV storage and repair at their new Tyee Drive location.

• PAWS volunteers worked to revitalize the organization following the departure of founder Carol Fuegi and launched their own electronic community bulletin board, PAWS Interface, to raise funds for the organization. The original Point Interface founded by Fuegi for that purpose was converted to a private enterprise by administrator Al Conahan.

June

• Whatcom County Council agreed to introduce an ordinance making garbage collection mandatory in Point Roberts and take it to a public hearing following a two-week delay requested by council member Barbara Brenner to increase time for public input.

• Kiniski’s Reef Tavern celebrated its 30th anniversary and owner Nick Kiniski gave up the idea of selling the iconic Gulf Road business. The business also made the switch to an all ages family restaurant.

• The garbage discussion got a little too raucous at the PRCAC meeting prompting local deputy Tom McCarthy to remind the audience that disorderly conduct is punishable by up to 90 days in jail. In an attempt to allay concerns that the proposed minimum service level of one can every other week was onerous for seasonal residents, county staff and PRCAC revised the minimum service language so that the 26 cans paid for annually could be put out at any time.

• Azure Coast, a proposed 14-home subdivision on the property across from the golf course known as Reno Ranch, moved to the permitting stage with Whatcom County.

• The Point Roberts Homegrown Co-Op was reorganized as Benson Road Homegrown Gardens, a community garden instead of a cooperative farm.

• Stephen Falk took Robin Nault’s spot on the Point Roberts Hospital District board of directors and Barbara Wayland was appointed as district superintendent, replacing Elaine Komusi.

July

• Whatcom County Council voted 5–2 to eliminate exemptions to mandatory garbage pickup in Point Roberts. Opponents of the change submitted a petition with 364 signatories and asked council to hold off on the change until a newly formed PRCAC solid waste subcommittee had time to review the Point’s solid waste system.

• After a one-year hiatus, the Point Roberts Arts and Music Festival was back on the water at the end of Gulf Road in collaboration with Kiniski’s Reef.

• Citing “increasing community turmoil” surrounding the Point Roberts Clinic, Unity Care NW decided not to renew their contract to operate the clinic.

• It was a garden tour year, highlighting eight unique local gardens.

• Water district commissioners approved a contract to provide irrigation water to the golf course. The golf course also asked the district to consider lowering their water rate, currently the same as other commercial users.

August

• Point Roberts library staff finished moving into the new library in the former Julius fire station in preparation for an August 1 grand opening.

• At the first meeting of hospital district commissioners after the local clinic lost its service provider, many community members expressed concern about the clinic’s future.

• With marijuana becoming legal in Canada, questions multiplied about how to stay out of trouble when crossing the border to the U.S.

• The dock at Lighthouse Marine Park failed again, and Whatcom County parks had no timeline to replace it.

• At the local taxpayers association annual general meeting, Whidbey Telecom chief marketing officer Chris McKnight outlined the company’s roll-out of fiber optic cable serving Point Roberts. The first customer online was U.S. Customs and Border Services at the port of entry.

• The parks district and the Point Roberts Historical Society began work on an agreement under which the historical society would use the room that previously housed the library as display and archival space. Parks board members were not in agreement on a food bank request for storage space at the community center.

• PRCAC members unanimously endorsed the concept of an 80/20 split of annual gas tax revenues, with the larger percentage being set aside for large projects and the smaller percentage being used annually for smaller projects.

• Prominent local developer Wayne Knowles, partner at the Cottages at Seabright Farm and vice president of development at the marina, died suddenly at home.

September

• Parks district commissioners began discussing a buyout proposal for their lease with the company that owns the Verizon cell tower adjacent to Baker Field.

• Whatcom County parks engineers struggled to figure out how to design a dock that would last at Lighthouse Marine in the wake of repeated failures of newer designs since the old wooden dock was taken out after 16 years in service.

• Savilla Cress was named the winner of the 2018 HaHa Cup at the annual Point Roberts Joke Contest.

• The Point Roberts Hospital District started looking for a new service provider to replace Unity Care NW, the board approving a request for qualifications for potential applicants. Commissioners also reassured new and existing patients the clinic was still open and Unity Care would continue to run it until a new provider was chosen or the decision made to go
it alone.

• The hospital district reported the legal and administrative cost incurred since April 2017 of responding to Shannon Tomsen and husband Victor Riley’s continuing records requests was $11,053, or over four percent of the district’s annual property tax receipts.

• The food bank was on the hunt for storage space again after parks district board members, after several months of discussion, decided to deny the food bank’s request for storage space at the Gulf Road community center.

• The front door of Auntie Pam’s Country Store was smashed during an early morning crime spree that included several car prowls. A suspect subsequently came forward and worked with property owners to fix damage.

• Congresswoman Suzan DelBene spoke about what’s up in the “other Washington” at her annual town forum sponsored by the local taxpayers’ association.

• PRCAC was willing to listen to community members calling for a lowering of the minimum service level in the newly adopted mandatory garbage pickup rules, but were not going to take up the issue again until it had a chance to be implemented.

October

• Circle of Care sponsored the Point Roberts Apple Harvest Festival as a way to celebrate the Point’s farming heritage. Circle of Care, the food bank, Benson Road Gardens and the garden club purchased a cider press to make gallons of juice from the abundant harvest of local apples.

• The hospital district signed a letter of intent with SuperTrack, a Bellingham-based urgent care company, to take over operation of the local clinic.

• Whidbey Tel began offering DISH satellite services on the Point.

• With a growing call volume for fire and emergency medical calls, fire chief Christopher Carleton reiterated the importance of Canadian firefighters who come to the Point to gain experience in maintaining good service levels for the community.

• Small Business Development Center business advisor Asche Rider was the featured speaker at this month’s PRCAC meeting, offering a variety of technical support service to local businesses.

• Theresa Coe replaced Jacquelyne Everett as manager of the Point Roberts marina and Steve Levine was promoted to manager of the engineering department. A pressing challenge facing new management was firefighting infrastructure which the local fire department has deemed substandard.

• CanDo Recycling and Disposal Services applied to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) for a review of proposed new rates in light of recent county legislation that mandates garbage pickup for all developed properties on the Point.

November

• U.S. border policy regarding admissibility of people who had used pot or worked in the legal cannabis industry continued to evolve, leading to a “traveler beware” situation at the border.

• The WUTC delayed their decision on CanDo Recycling and Disposal Service rates to allow for greater notice to stakeholders.

• The fire district purchased a 2018 mini-pumper demonstration fire truck to add a new rapid and flexible unit to their firefighting fleet.

• Whatcom County planning and development services shelved a proposal to eliminate a loophole in the Point’s tree retention rules to give the community more time to bring their concerns about the changes to PRCAC.

• Unity Care NW announced they would stop providing care at the Point Roberts clinic on December 31, 2018, a decision hospital district commissioner Stephen Falk described as “disappointing” given the organization had initially offered to serve the community past the end of their contract period to insure there was not a lapse in service. The contract between the district and new provider SuperTrack was reported to be nearing completion.

• Water district commissioners weighed their options after bids to build the district’s new shop and office came in over $2 million more than twice the project budget.

• PRCAC voted 2-1 to recommend to Whatcom County that if Guy Garbo’s unpermitted RV storage facility on Tyee Drive came into compliance with county code his application be approved.

• Candidates for state and county office crowded the stage during the annual voters’ association candidates night in the lead-up to an election marked by hotly contested seats.

• Whatcom County public works crews were busy doing shoulder work on the Point in anticipation of a big season chipsealing local roads in 2019.

December

• Tsawwassen residents brought their concerns about unpermitted land clearing and potential development of the Guichon Farm property across the border to the Point Roberts taxpayers association meeting.

• New rates for garbage service in Point Roberts were in front of the WUTC for approval again.

• PRCAC scheduled a series of meetings to get rolling on their long-delayed review of county zoning codes specific to Point Roberts. The fast-tracked review was spurred by enforcement actions aimed at overnight parking at 1480 Gulf Road.

• A winter clothing drive brought in almost three tons of used clothing to help families in need on the Point and beyond.

• Kelli Wallace replaced Gigi Reeves at the front desk of the Point Roberts water district.

• Parks district commissioners Linda Hughes and Sonia Liu resigned prompting the district to invite interested community members to throw their hat in the ring.

• With the results too close to call, races for state senate and representative in the 42nd legislative district went to a hand recount.

• Jennifer Fields replaced Paul Beauchemin as manager of the Bald Eagle Golf Club. The restaurant at the golf course filled a long-standing gap for local diners, offering Italian classic food on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

• After years of successful fundraising and unsuccessful lobbying at Whatcom County, the Point Roberts Lighthouse Society board voted to dissolve and transfer their remaining funds to the Point Roberts Historical Society to be used on the new museum at the community center.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.