Year in Review 2020: Whoosh! A look back at a year that just was

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January

• The Point Roberts Water District adopted a new rate structure designed to make users with the biggest impact on the water system pay the biggest slice of keeping it operating.

• Local firefighters started helping out at the library with story time.

• In her last meeting as a member of Whatcom County Council, Barbara Brenner unsuccessfully tried to get council approval for a review of charges at the Point Roberts transfer station. Brenner also pushed council members to undertake a full review of garbage service on the Point. Council also heard from several Point Roberts residents who asked that the minimum service level in Point Roberts established by county ordinance be reduced.

• After sitting vacant for several years the building that was home to Brewsters Fine Foods reopened as Brewsters Business Center with UNIQ Destinations as its first tenant.

• Dan Schroeder was appointed to the Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District board of commissioners to fill the space left vacant after the resignation of Arthur Reber.

• Registration opened for Point Roberts Race Week, the first year the event would take place on the Point after a 30-year stretch on Whidbey Island.

February

All Point Bulletin sources revealed a bulletin in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers were instructed to conduct enhanced vetting on individuals who had travelled to Iran, leading to up to 12 hours of questioning for up to 200 American citizens and permanent residents returning home. The whistleblower revealed the instruction came from local CBP managers.

• Incoming county executive Satpal Sidhu opted to delay any further appointments to the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) until he had a chance to meet with local groups and community members to discuss their concerns. about the advisory committee.

• Race Week organizers announced the July event, newly relocated to Point Roberts, would be host to the Corsair Nationals and International 6-meter North American Championship.

• The parks district started looking for another new board member after the resignation of Chwynyn Vaughan.

• Cando Recycling and Disposal started ramping up a new plastic film recycling program and county staff moved ahead with plans to replace the operations trailer at the transfer station.

• PRCAC continued to work with county staff to get 15 proposed changes to county code, developed during dozens of community meetings and work sessions in 2018 and 2019, ready to go before county council for approval.

• Rebranding itself as Sustainable Point Roberts, GarbageinPR.com collected 190 responses to a survey about environmental concerns, waste management and sustainable practices. There was strong support for community cleanup events and educational events.

• The Point Roberts food bank and the local fire department teamed up to begin delivering Meals on Wheels in Point Roberts.

March

• Representatives from Orca Shores, majority shareholder and developer of the Cottages at Seabright Farms, said they were making catching up on a quarter million dollars in overdue property taxes a top priority.

• Newly elected county executive Satpal Sidhu emphasized the need for community consensus at a town hall meeting on the Point attended by 40 people.

• Former Point Roberts resident John Lesow gathered signatures to get an advisory vote on the November 2020 ballot asking Whatcom County voters to support the sale of Point Roberts to Canada.

• The International Marketplace and local volunteers from Sustainable Point Roberts brought the Foster Love program to the Point, collecting luggage and backpacks for foster kids and youth in transition.

• The boards of the local voters and taxpayers associations pledged to work together more on common goals. Voters association president Allison Calder was already serving on the board of the taxpayers association and at their annual general meeting the voters association elected Mark Robbins, president of the taxpayers association, to their board.

• The Blaine school district’s $26 million maintenance and operations levy was approved by 58 percent of voters.

• Stephen Falk was reappointed to the parks district board, after choosing not to run for his position in order to run for a seat on the hospital district board. Candidates can only run for one position in any given election.

• The Point Roberts Historical Society began applying for funds to implement an interpretive signage program and self-guided tour.

• Whatcom County Council members agreed to put the mandatory service ordinance on the agenda for the public works committee.

April

• The Whatcom County Health Department reported 86 confirmed cases and four deaths as of March 26 from novel coronavirus. Fire chief Christopher Carleton started working on how to ensure the Point had access to needed supplies and services in the event the epidemic escalated.

• Governor Jay Inslee issued a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, shuttering non-essential business to on-site shopping and dining. Schools were also closed and the school district scrambled to provide online learning to students by March 30.

• The community center was closed to the public but the Point Roberts Senior Center and the local for bank continued to provide drive-up services.

• Fishing and shellfishing seasons were closed statewide in response to the pandemic.

• The U.S./Canada border was closed to all non-essential travel.

• As businesses closed down in the face of restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus epidemic, The All Point Bulletin turned to readers asking for financial support as advertising dollars disappeared.

• The Point Roberts clinic suspended wellness exams and routine checkups and discontinued walk-in visits

• Whidbey Telecom looked to the community for help in securing grant funding to bringing a gigabit powered fiber network to the Point.

May

• The Whatcom County Health Department reported 304 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 28 deaths as of April 30. The county lagged behind the rest of the state in testing, with only 1.1 percent of the population tested compared to 2.4 percent statewide.

• Management at Cando Recycling and Disposal Services anticipated no interruptions in service following the sudden death of owner David Gellatly.

• The county health department recommended the cancellation of summer events. Race Week organizers announced the event, scheduled for Point Roberts after 30 years on Whidbey Island, would be cancelled for 2020.

• Point Roberts was slow to respond to the 2020 census, with only 18 percent of households responding by the end of April, compared to 62 percent in the county.

• The local fire department in cooperation with the clinic began to offer Covid-19 testing.

• Despite $10 million to hand out, Working Washington grants to help small businesses were only able to help a fraction of the businesses that applied.

• The Circle of Care “Our Finest Hour” program offered emergency funds to residents to cover small expenses government assistance didn’t cover.

• Lighthouse Marine Park’s new ranger Meghan Kelly had a lonely start to her assignment, with the campground remaining closed and the camp hosts let go for the year.

• Blackfish Resort was listed for sale at just shy of $8 million.

• Sally Roberts and Ernie Loreen both celebrated their 90th birthdays with friends and family treating them to drive-by parties.

June

• Asian Giant Hornets, dubbed “murder hornets,” were reported in Whatcom County.

• An anti-microbial coating product developed by Allied BioSciences, a company founded in Point Roberts, began to be used by hospital and transit systems to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

• With regional food banks changing procedures in response to Covid-19, the local food bank had to rely more heavily on local donations to ensure clients could continue to get a healthy variety of food.

• The closure of the U.S./Canada border to non-essential travel was extended for another month.

• Local clothing and costume designer Savilla Kress turned her talents to making cloth masks, selling them from her home as a fundraiser for local firefighters.

• Local groups and boards took their meetings online. At their May virtual meeting the board of the taxpayers association heard from Canadian property owners frustrated and not being allowed to come to the Point to check on their properties under the Covid closure of the border to non-essential travel.

• Local residents began circulating a petition to the governments of the U.S. and Canada asking that residents of Point Roberts, where there had been no reported cases of Covid-19, be allowed to travel to and from the mainland.

(To be continued...)

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