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A Look Back at the Year That Just Was

Published on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 by Meg Olson

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My, my – where has the year gone? Just as we were about to refresh our memories of our 2012 resolutions, it’s time to start thinking about what we want to accomplish in 2013. But before we do, here’s a look back at the events that happened in our little corner of the world.

January

• Verizon Wireless representative Scott Charleston said their proposed cell phone tower on land leased from the local parks department would be completed “in the first half of the year.” County planning supervisor Tyler Schroeder said when their permits expire in March 2012 it would be “likely the last extension” for the project, on the books now for seven years.
• The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) took its first official action, recommending that Whatcom County spend gas-tax dollars on a streetlight at the corner of Johnson Road and Tyee Drive.
• Water district commissioners gave the go-ahead to a $429,000 bid to replace the worst of the Point’s failing water mains.
• The Point Artisan Guild gave their proceeds from their annual craft fair raffle, $1,901, to the local parks board for repairs to the community center’s leaky roof.

February

• Fire chief Nick Kiniski and fire district commissioners denied claims by a former firefighter that departmental policies discouraged local volunteers and led to delayed response times.
• Redistricting put Point Roberts in the second congressional district, along with most of Whatcom County and parts of Skagit, Snohomish and King counties, and looking at electing a new representative to U.S. Congress in November.
• Water district commissioners agreed to change the policy for obtaining a water availability certificate, necessary for county permitting. From now on, the entire $5,500 general facilities fee is due up front.
• TJs restaurant and lounge closed after decades in business on Tyee Drive.
• Local residents Jennifer Urquhart and Jeff Wilmot donated 15 digital cameras to the local primary school and led four classes teaching students to use them.
• Parks commissioners approved a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Friends of the Point Roberts Library, reserving Julius Fire Station for conversion into a new library. Voter association president Elizabeth Lantz offered an alternative: build a new library on Baker Field property, convert the Julius fire station into a gym and the current community center into retail space.

March

• PRCAC decided against lighting the Johnson Road and Tyee Drive intersection after the county came back with a requirement for four lights and $85,000 to meet county standards.
• In preliminary results from a February election, the proposed $3 million capital improvement bond for the Blaine School District was squeaking by with 62 percent of a needed 60 percent supermajority.
• The Small Business Development Center offered free professional advice for local businesses.
• Point Roberts water commissioners approved another rate increase, with use on the Point dropping and the cost of buying water from Vancouver going up.
• Whatcom County hearing examiner Michael Bobbink denied a request by local property owners to use rainwater harvesting as their only source of domestic water for their vacation home.
• Leap Frog Water Taxi began offering their services to Point Roberts, with a trip to Bellingham costing $85 each way per person, with an option for savings for larger parties.
• Ed and Virginia Lester announced they would be retiring as providers of medical care and laboratory services at the Point Roberts Clinic.
• Samantha Scholefield began fundraising to hire a local student as a summer intern promoting Point Roberts events and businesses.
• The group working to improve Baker Field presented parks district commissioners with a list of priorities for the facility, including resurfacing the playing field, a covered picnic area, trail development, a bandstand and disc golf.
• Point Roberts Fire Department launched a “mini-recruit academy” to promote greater local volunteerism.

April

• Fire commissioners disagreed on purchasing a vehicle dedicated to paramedic use, which was approved by commissioners Stan Riffle and David Gellatly, with Bill Meursing opposed.
• Water district commissioners approved a new policy requiring property owners to pay all their connection costs up front before they proceed with development plans.
• The Spring Fling talent auction raised funds for the newly-hatched summer marketing program by selling donated services.
• Longtime food bank volunteer Ernie Loreen was presented with a commemorative plaque honoring his years of service.
• County hearing examiner Michael Bobbink approved an additional one-year extension to the Verizon Wireless cell phone tower. Tower Co. stated they expected to complete construction by the end of May.
• Young adults in the community approached the local parks board about projects they consider priorities, including improvements to Baker Field, expanding the community garden and a climbing wall in the community center.
• Trinity Lutheran Church dedicated their new Schlicker pipe organ.
• The water district began replacing water mains on Shady Glen Avenue.

May

• The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee voted to recommend three road projects to the county as a way to spend gas-tax dollars: a walking path along Marine Drive at Lighthouse Marine Park, painting the barrier at the foot of Gulf Road and a temporary radar sign to slow speeders on Gulf Road.
• Water district commissioners approved a resolution allowing them to place a lien on properties that fail to pay their connection fees.
• The Point Roberts Yacht Club officially opened boating season with the traditional flag-raising and sail-past.
• The Wackie Walkers completed their 1,000th walk.
• The Point Roberts Garden Club got a tour of the new Homegrown Co-op on Benson Road.
• The Friends of the Point Roberts Library split off a committee dedicated to fundraising to transform Julius Fire Station into a new library.

June

• Whatcom County Council members attending the annual meeting of the Point Roberts Registered Voters’ Association got a dose of squabbling and left telling the audience to build some consensus if they want the county to pay attention.
• Fire commissioners began a series of work sessions to address what commissioner Gellatly called “a disconnect” between the department and the commissioners.
• The water district appealed to residents to report leaks after a main break leaked 400,000 gallons of water as district staff scrambled to find it.
• Governor Christine Gregoire unlocked emergency funds to help combat a growing pertussis outbreak.
• A fuel spill in the marina’s boatyard spread to the canal adjacent to Marina Mist condominiums, leading to reports of health effects from residents.
• The visitor’s kiosk was given a facelift and moved to the community center as part of the summer marketing program.
• Local resident Carole MacRury’s poem “An Intimate Look at a Slug” was selected as one of 10 winners of the 2012 Sue Boynton Poetry Contest, earning her a spot in the Bellingham library’s annual poetry walk.

July

• Fire commissioners approved a weekday sleeper program proposed by chief Nick Kiniski to ensure better coverage during the week.
• New county executive Jack Louws visited Point Roberts with senior county staffers and heard requests to support local projects ranging from a lighthouse at Lighthouse Marine Park to repairs for the community center. Louws suggested community financial support was the way to get external funding.
• Water district commissioners explored ways property owners could disconnect their service.
• PRCAC got expert advice on transportation planning from Ellen Barton, non-motorized transportation specialist with the Whatcom Council of Governments. Committee members agreed to pursue the Complete Streets program to ensure local roads are safe and comfortable for all users.
• Dollars for Scholars awarded 17 scholarships to local students to help pay for college.
• Auntie Pam’s Country Store opened on Gulf Road, replacing McFrugals.
• The Fourth of July parade theme was “heroes.”

August

• After an hour behind closed doors, fire district commissioners came out with changes to chief Nick Kiniski’s job and overall department administration.
• Former Delta Chamber of Commerce president Ian Tait, the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Point Roberts Taxpayers’ Association, told the audience about a series of projects north of the border that would likely impact Point Roberts. Two major housing developments and two shopping malls are proposed in Tsawwassen.
• A rapid response by the local fire department saved a 19-year-old man’s life after he went into cardiac arrest while visiting a friend.
• County planners recommended denial of the Point Roberts Beach Club project after the state rejected the proposed sewer plan for the project.
• Prompted by comments from the state department of fish and wildlife about the potential for eagles to nest on a lattice tower, applicant submitted a new design for the cell phone tower: a monopole.
• Hundreds came out to honor Ed and Virginia Lester following their announcement they would be retiring from the Point Roberts Clinic.
• Point Roberts Radio, a non-profit volunteer internet radio station, began broadcasting.
• The Friends of the Point Roberts Library, with $28,000 in the kitty to build a new library, announced a $20,000 matching fund donation.

September

• In a series of special meetings, fire district commissioners Stan Riffle and Bill Meursing fired chief Nick Kiniski, commissioner David Gellatly resigned and Christopher Carleton was handed the chief’s job. More than 100 people turned out to protest the decision to fire Kiniski.
• Looking to lower rates through controlling water costs, water district commissioners explored the possibility of a pipeline to Blaine, considered more likely than getting the Greater Vancouver Water District to amend their contract and allow the Point to only buy the water it uses.
• During Great Change Month, change donated to raise funds for a new library was rolled and counted at Sterling Savings Bank.
• PRCAC officially recommended the county improve 200 feet of the shoulder of Marine Drive at the Lighthouse Marine Park curve to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Audience members also put forward concerns about parking at Maple Beach and the possibility the gas-tax dollars could be used to create public parking there.
• A busload of visitors from Iceland came to the Point to visit the church and the cemetery and explore the Point’s Icelandic heritage.
• County parks crews working to improve or eliminate trails at Lily Point came up against users who don’t want the trail system disrupted or changed.
• The Arts and Music Festival at Lighthouse Marine Park brought together local and visiting talent for a weekend of fun in the sun.

October

• The Point Roberts Seniors Association brought together more than 20 community groups for an open house celebrating improvement to the community center, including new chairs and tables the association purchased.
• New fire chief Chris Carleton announced emergency medical personnel from the county would be coming to Point Roberts to help beef up weekday coverage, and a recruitment process to hire more firefighters.
• Test results at the Blaine School District were down, with math and science scores mostly below state average. Test results for high school seniors were more encouraging, with Blaine’s biology scores 16 points above state average.
• Ann Callaghan, U.S. Consul General in Vancouver, visited Point Roberts and met with community members.
• The International Marketplace joined efforts to raise funds for a new library by giving one percent of whatever shoppers spend if they hand in their receipt.
• Fire district commissioners faced criticism over transparency and adherence with state laws governing open meetings, and chief Christopher Carleton accepted revisions to his contract that reduced his vacation and sick leave.
• Fire commissioners appointed Jeff Wilmot to replace David Gellatly.
• Alexandra Hunt joined the Point Roberts Clinic staff as the health care provider replacing Virginia Lester.

November

• Fire chief Christopher Carleton increased compensation for volunteers and moved to increase staff by five, picking from a pool of 38 applicants.
• Faced with a strong Canadian dollar, water district commissioners had to boost the balance in their Canadian account to pay the water bill from Vancouver.
• Voters’ association representative Dwayne Hunt stormed out of the PRCAC meeting for the second time, following a heated exchange with committee chair and taxpayers’ association representative Arthur Reber.
• Jeff Wilmot shook things up at his first meeting as a fire commissioner, proposing a larger and unpaid board of commissioners, and opposing an increase in the chief’s discretionary account. The increase was approved later in the month,  commissioners Riffle and Meursing did not support Wilmot’s proposal for a larger board.
• Candidates for state and federal offices came to woo local voters at the voters’ association’s candidates night.
• Fundraising efforts for a new library rose to more than $70,000.
• Puget Sound Energy contractors were on the Point working with local homeowners and businesses to improve energy efficiency.
• The Wackie Walkers celebrated 10 years of walking the Point’s roads and trails.

December

• Fire district commissioners agreed not to take the one percent increase in their levy allowed under state law.
• PRCAC, two members short of a full slate, agreed to form a committee for planning a Complete Streets plan for transportation improvements.
• The annual Christmas craft fair at the community center took on an Icelandic theme.
• The Point Roberts Garden Club installed new landscaping along Tyee Drive.
• Whatcom County’s library system recognized the local friends of the library group for their fundraising efforts.
• Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District commissioners presented a budget that was focused on preserving parks facilities, specifically the Gulf Road community center.
• The Reef Tavern’s kitchen was given new life by chef Alex Furno.
• Water district commissioners considered a rate survey on the marina sewer system with an eye to raising rates to cover maintaining the system.
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