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2010: The Year in Review

Published on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 by By Meg Olson

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January
• Fire district commissioners launched a campaign aimed at getting voters to back a tax increase that would see a doubling of the department’s revenue.
• The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) prepared to review two competing applications to provide garbage and recycling services: full curbside and drop-box services from Freedom 2000 and special pickup services from Point Recycling and Refuse.
• Stephen Hedlund opened Stephen’s Hair Design on Gulf Road.

 

February

• The WUTC ruled in favor of Freedom 2000 as the garbage hauler for Point Roberts, but chastised the county for imposing solid waste rules that were not sustainable given the unique situation of the community.
• The water district moved aggressively to replace several aging water mains after catastrophic main breaks along Cliff Drive wiped out a cabin.
• County council member Barbara Brenner introduced an ordinance that would loosen new septic inspection rules.
• Whidbey Tel crews laid new fiber optic cable as part of their efforts to enhance broadband capabilities in the community.
• The parks district made an offer of $98,000 for the old fire hall next to the community center on Gulf Road.
• More grades on the Point and a turnout bus and monitors on the school bus were recurring themes in what the community wanted for their schools. Hopes for better school facilities expressed in the school district’s long-range plan met with the harsh reality of another year of cuts to the Blaine school district budget.

March

• Freedom 2000, operating as CanDo Recycling and Disposal, got rolling, restoring curbside garbage and recycling services to Point Roberts homes and dumpsters to businesses.
• Whatcom County Council voted 5-2 to approve new regulations allowing homeowners to inspect their own septic systems if they took a class.
• Fire commissioners officially approved putting a tax increase on the November ballot aimed at improving staffing, establishing a reserve to replace aging equipment and improving emergency medical care.
• After evaluating the condition of the Julius Fire Station, parks commissioners voted to proceed with the purchase despite not having the funds to upgrade the building to a serviceable level.
• County executive Pete Kremen moved to form an advisory committee that bring together representatives from various local groups to provide a unified voice connecting the Point and the county.
• Elaine Komusi replaced Margery Biery as superintendent of the local hospital district.

April

The April issue of the All Point Bulletin highlighted the Point’s rich agricultural history, from the chicken farms, orchards and dairies of long ago to today’s hobby farms and local families efforts to produce more of their own food.
• U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced their second annual town hall meeting to discuss border issues.
• Kremen announced the members of the new Point Roberts Advisory Committee: Heather McPhee representing the chamber of commerce, Dwayne Hunt representing the voters’ association, Arthur Reber representing the taxpayers’ association and at-large members Marco Aurilio and Louise Mugar.
• Waiting to see what funding the state would provide for local schools, the Blaine school district heard community members saying they wanted to see cuts in other areas before the district started cutting staff.
• A tsunami warning for coastal areas was issued following a February 26 earthquake in Chile, but the waves that hit Lighthouse Park the next day were pretty standard fare.
• The local parks district started discussions with the county library system to see if the newly acquired Julius Fire Station next to the community center would be a feasible choice for a bigger library.
• A new community garden off Island View Lane was made available by Stella Abbey.
• Organizers of the Friends of the Skatepark group held a cleanup and paint day at the local skatepark.
• The local taxpayers group gave the thumbs up to the fire district’s proposal to raise their levy: The association board voting unanimously to support the hike.

May

In May the All Point Bulletin celebrated 25 years as the community newspaper of Point Roberts.
• Blaine school district administrators approved a proposal to add third grade at the local primary school for the following academic year.
• A meeting to discuss the proposed Point Roberts Beach Club project drew over 50 people, most of them asking for more protection of valuable forest habitat. Developer Anders Kruus said they had worked to preserve as much of the forest as possible while allowing the project to remain economically viable.
• The Rotary Club of Tsawwassen and Point Roberts paid for parking lot lights at the community center.
• Whatcom County announced they would hold two classes in Point Roberts for homeowners wishing to inspect their own septic systems.
• The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee held their first meeting, focusing on how gas tax dollars collected on the Point are spent.
• Verizon moved forward soliciting bids to build a cell phone tower on land owned by the parks district, but said they still had no timeline for construction.
• The local parent teacher organization’s epic Easter egg hunt at Lighthouse Park drew little hunters from the Point and neighboring communities.
• Firefighters got to try their hand at the real thing during a live burn practice on Kendor Drive.
• Two dozen people gathered at Lighthouse Marine Park to bless the Salish Sea with song and prayer readings.
• The local fire department started a “sleeper program” for firefighters from outside the community to enhance coverage during times when response is traditionally low.
• The water district continued to tap reserve funds to replace aged water mains suffering from repeated failures.

June

• The community advisory committee decided to send out a survey to gauge community opinion about transportation priorities and how the county should be spending tax dollars collected here.
• The county put off a hearing on the proposed Point Roberts Beach Club project to ensure all parties had been properly notified and given time to respond. Meanwhile the developer tried to tweak plans to address community concerns.
• The water district staff discovered they had been charging some businesses the residential rather than the commercial rates, and got ready to hand out the hard news that they were going to have to pay back the difference.
• Fire district commissioners approved using funds from the sale of the Julius fire station to replace the department’s 30-year-old engine.
• The Lily Point Marine Reserve officially doubled in size as the Nature Conservancy wrapped up the transfer of 119 acres to the Whatcom County parks
system.
• Commodore Ray Parent took over as head of the local yacht club on opening day of the boating season.
• The library and the parks district continued to look at options for expanding the library, with library system director Joan Airoldi suggesting there be more efforts to get community input about what kind of library people wanted 20 years from now.
• A sudden shift in policy in how visas are issued for seasonal workers from Canada caught local businesses off guard and many said the new more cumbersome process would impact the ability of their business to operate during busy summer months.
• Hundreds flooded to Kiniski’s Reef Tavern to say goodbye to legendary wrestler Gene Kiniski who died on April 14 at 81.

July

• Community garden members installed raised beds next to the Gulf Road community center with funding help from the local parks district. Parks commissioners also gave their approval for a new Saturday morning market at the community center.
• Tree retention and access surfaced as the primary community concerns at a county sponsored meeting about the permitting of the Point Roberts Beach Club project. The Point Roberts Conservation Society retained legal counsel to challenge the county’s environmental review of the project’s impact.
• Following a rate review, commercial users saw their base rate for water usage cut in half.
• County council approved $50,000 to help pay for local fire chief Nick Kiniski to become a paramedic.
• The Point Roberts primary school’s annual garage sale raised more than $2,000 for special programs and events.
• Unable to hire staff needed to run a full service restaurant after changes in visa policies for part-time Canadian workers, Brewsters Restaurant closed its doors and  reopened by owner Joan Roberts as a store featuring ready-to-go foods, wine, organic produce and fresh bread.
• Whatcom County Council wrote to federal legislators and bureaucrats asking for changes to visa policies to allow seasonal Canadian workers on the Point and protect local jobs and businesses.
• Dollars for Scholars awarded $14,000 in scholarships to local students at their 10th annual awards night.
• Can-Do Recycling owner David Gellatly added more recycling options, aiming for a “zero-waste goal” for the Point.

August

• The local fire district held an open house and information session to explain to taxpayers why the department needs to almost double its tax levy. Only two members of the public attended.
• The Blaine school board voted to go to the voters again in April for approval of a $32 million bond, primarily for infrastructure improvements to the crumbling high school.
• The Point Roberts Arts and Music Festival celebrated its 15th year.
• Several benefit events were hastily organized to help pay medical expenses for local firefighter Marco Aurilio after he collided with a deer while riding his bike. The deer left the scene of the collision with no apparent ill effects.
• Nine unique gardens and tea at Trinity Luther Church were the highlights of the annual garden tour.

September

• Bellingham paramedic Chris Carleton took over from chief Nick Kiniski while Kiniski completes his paramedic training.
• Bellingham lawyer Greg Boos dug up a 1984 Immigration and Naturalization Service memo outlining a visa policy specific for the Point that would solve many visa problems faced by local businesses. According to the Department of Homeland Security the memo is no longer relevant as new ones have superceded old policies.
• The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee heard from community members that their transportation priorities were focused on making it safer for people walking or riding.
• The first family games night at the local community center was a huge success.
• Marine biologists and naturalists led an exploration of beaches and bluffs during the Point Roberts Conservation Society’s benefit walk.
• Respondents to a community survey said they valued the Point for being rural and serene yet close to a large metropolitan area. Topping the list of changes respondents wanted to see was more trails, and border waits or NEXUS were the primary issues of concern.
• A bluff collapse at Lily Point left a trail that used to be 15 feet from the edge dangling in the air

October

• A Ferndale AM radio station filed with the Federal Aviation Administration in the early stages of seeking approval for a five-tower transmission array proposed for the corner of Tyee Drive and Mackenzie Way.
• An unusual summer storm pounded Maple Beach, sending many moored boats into the seawall.
• Bankers moved ahead with foreclosure on the eastern parcels of the proposed Point Roberts Beach Club project. The property was sold at auction on the steps of the county courthouse to high bidder Monte Clark for $1.8 million. However, the official trustees deed conveys interest in the property to Jimmy Soo Hyung Lee.
• Record salmon runs meant a busy marina and happy fishermen, but also an alarming rise in the number of dead seals washing up on local beaches, many shot in the head.
• After learning they had made a state list of recommended projects eligible for low cost loans, water district commissioners were waiting to see how much funding, if any, the program would get in an anticipated tight budget.
• The sun came out just in time for the Point Roberts Marina Seafood and Music Festival.
• Children’s librarian Rose Momsen announced plans to expand offerings for kids, especially teens, and put out the call for volunteers.
• Birders flocked to local beaches to watch as migrating gulls drew record numbers of Parasitic Jaegers, providing a thrilling acrobatic show of cat and mouse.
• Whatcom Physical Therapy began to offer physical therapy services through the local clinic.

November

• The water district geared up to seek federal grant funding that could support a comprehensive multi-million dollar water main replacement program.
• The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee and county staffers heard from the community about priorities ranging from a dock at Lighthouse Marine Park to the possibility of a ferry system connecting the Point with Bellingham and the San Juans.
• Fire commissioners put in the last push before voters decided on their request to double fire taxes in support of enhanced emergency medicine and staffing of the fire station.
• Climatologists promised more wet and cold than usual this winter, and winter delivered.
• Jim Sarkissian and Darren Eremenko won the Ron Nielson Fall Golf Classic, a benefit that raised $5,000 for the local clinic.
• Candidates came to the Point to make their case to voters at the Point Roberts Registered Voters Association candidate’s night.
• Assistant state archaeologist Gretchen Kaehler raised some eyebrows and ires when she stated in an e-mail that even digging a fence post in Point Roberts required an archaeologist and a permit.
• The Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness Committee sponsored a three-day training for members of the Com-
munity Emergency Response team.

December

• Assistant state archaeologist Gretchen Kaehler apologized for upsetting community members by making comments specific to a certain area appear to apply to the whole community, acknowledging most activities in most areas don’t need an archaeologist.
• Voters gave healthy support to the proposed doubling of the fire tax levy, with 60 percent of voters casting a yes vote.
• Parks commissioners agreed to let a group using Baker Field for football on Wednesday nights plug in their lights, and commissioner Marco Aurilio suggested they should make a plan for comprehensive upgrades to the field to encourage more community use.
• Countywide the election went to the Republicans for state seats but the Democrats held on at the federal level. In Point Roberts, as usual, votes heavily favored Democrat candidates.
• The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee asked the Port of Bellingham for help replacing the dock at Lighthouse Marine Park and got “probably not” as an answer.
• Point Roberts water district turned down a request from developers of the Point Roberts Beach Club to refund their water connection money.
• Gordon Downer was seen gliding around town in the newest prototype of his Ridek experimental vehicle.
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