Looking Back: A review of news from 2012 (Part Two)

Published on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 by The Northern Light Staff

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The Mayans said 2012 would be Earth’s last year, but it turned out to be a year of preparation not for the apocalypse, but for growth, as the Blaine and Birch Bay communities deabated and planned for big, and sometimes controversial, developments.

The Gateway Pacific Terminal, the Birch Bay Pedestrian Facility and the new Whatcom County Jail: these are some of the developments that percolated all year and should see progress in 2013. 

Local athletes gained experience, a president was reelected and the national economy continued a slow climb out of recession. All in all, 2012 seemed to be a year for building foundations. Let’s take a look back at the second half of last year’s headlines.

July
  • A B.C. woman who crashed her car on the Canadian side of the Peace Arch monument was airlifted to a Canadian hospital.
  • Local developer Brady Mayson bought an unfinished housing development on Shintaffer Road for $1.2 million.
  • Blaine City Council expressed support for the Blaine Harbor Square project, a proposed new community center, hotel and library at the site of the old city hall.
  • Ace Hardware reopened under new ownership as part of the Whatcom Farmer’s Co-op (WFC).
  • Crews completed the Peace Portal Community Trail.
  • Unsafe biotoxin levels were found in the water at Semiahmoo Spit, resulting in shellfish harvesting restrictions.
  • Whatcom County Health Department officials proposed stricter 
  • enforcement for septic owners county-wide.
  • Blaine local Jeff Coston finished sixth out of 312 competitors at the 45th PGA Professional National Championship.
  • The Washington State Department of Ecology issued a decision to include the Birch Bay urban growth area (UGA) in Whatcom County’s national stormwater permit.

August
  • Five WWU students released a study on the possible impacts of the Birch Bay shoreline enhancement projects.
  • The Sea Links driving range closed due to stolen golf balls.
  • The sockeye salmon fishing season was shortened to two weeks.
  • Construction crews began work on the H Street Revitalization Project.
  • The Washington Surveying and Ratings Bureau improved Blaine’s fire safety rating from six to four.
  • A joint operation between the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and federal, state and municipal law enforcement agencies led to the arrests of five Birch Bay residents and one Blaine resident on various charges that included possession of drugs and stolen property.
  • Six-year-old Alejandro Moser-Hernandez earned third place in the under-11 division of the Washington State Pepsi Championship Bowling Tournament.
  • The British Columbia-based investment group North America Chen’s Holdings, LLP purchased the Sea Links Golf Course, the CJ’s Beach House property and 38 acres of conservation easement between the golf course and Blaine Road.
  • The city officially opened the Peace Portal Community Trail. 

September
  • The city entered into a lengthy legal battle to acquire the Martin property as part of an easement to provide sewer service to east Blaine developments. 
  • Jack Niemann announced he would be reopening CJ’s Beach House, the 50th restaurant of his career. 
  • The Blaine Community Soup Kitchen changed its name and its approach, reinventing itself as Community Meals of Blaine and partnering with the Community Assistance Program. 
  • Two teenagers were arrested by Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies suspected of committing a June 27 burglary.
  • The city of Blaine said goodbye to its old quarters on H Street and began business in the newly renovated Banner Bank building on Martin Street.
  • The Borderites opened their football season with a 50-16 victory over the New Westminster Hyacks.
  • Washington State Department of Labor & Industries issued an $81,500 fine to the BP oil refinery for the February blaze at the refinery. 
  • Residents finally got the chance to have their voices heard regarding the Gateway Pacific Terminal project as the official scoping period began. The public meetings allowed county residents to show their support or air their concerns about the project, which will be a multi-commodity, dry bulk cargo-handling facility on nearly 1,500 acres in Whatcom County.

October
  • Aggressive raccoons in Birch Bay began making a name for themselves when they were linked to contamination in the water supply. 
  • An international film crew from Belarus came to study Blaine as part of their documentary on border cities. 
  • Mario Gobbato broke the Whatcom County career rushing record with 4,623 yards.
  • Blaine High School celebrated its 2012 Homecoming by crowning Palmer Sandel and Ashley Bolick as the Homecoming King and Queen. 
  • The SWAT team was called in to deal with an armed Birch Bay man who was despondent over a breakup with his girlfriend.
  • A lengthy period without rain prompted Governor Gregoire to extend the statewide burn ban well into October.
  • A Canadian border guard was shot in her booth at the Douglas border crossing; the gunman immediately thereafter committed suicide.
  • Things got a little sweeter in Blaine when the new ice cream parlor and coffee shop, We’ve Got the Scoop, opened.
  • The city of Blaine and the Martin family came to a tentative agreement on the property the city was eyeing for its utility and road corridor for east Blaine. 
  • A string of summer burglaries in Birch Bay were finally resolved after sheriff’s deputies made several arrests in  connection with the cases. 

November 
  • Birch Bay Square found a new owner who hopes to revitalize the long semi-dormant shopping center.
  • Semiahmoo Resort announced that it would close its doors, effectively laying off more than 200 employees.
  • Blaine High School started work on new science and life skills classrooms. 
  • A public meeting for the Gateway Pacific Terminal project drew close to 2,000 people to Bellingham’s Squalicum High  School.
  • Kenneth Martin Cassell was convicted of three counts of animal cruelty in the second degree and one count of violating the Washington State dog breeding law after Whatcom Humane Society animal control officers seized nearly 50 miniature Australian Shepherds from his property in April.
  • Local voters in Blaine, Birch Bay and Point Roberts pretty much mirrored the nation during the 2012 election with 50.8 percent casting their ballot to re-elect Barack Obama as President.
  • Mario Gobbato burned his name into the record books with a blazing single-game rushing record of 480 yards and a single-season rushing record of 2,821 yards.
  • Blaine city council approved a three percent property tax increase to help with the budget shortfall created by loss of revenue from Semiahmoo Resort.
  • The Port of Bellingham announced the hiring of its new executive director, Rob Fix.
  • For the first time in more than 50 years, the Blaine High School cross country team qualified as a team for the state championship meet. 
  • Snowy owls were found warming their feathers in Blaine. 

December
  • Whatcom County Council approved a $179 million budget and established the Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility Project Fund and the Birch Bay - Lynden Road/Portal Way Signalization/Improvement Project Fund.
  • Same-sex marriage became legal on December 6 after Washington voters approved it in the November election.
  • Semiahmoo Resort cleaned out its inventory and closed its doors on December 1. 
  • A new jail site was recommended for Whatcom County and was met with varied and passionate reactions by concerned citizens at the county council meeting.
  • Blaine wrestlers muscled their way to first place at the Mariner Holiday Classic tournament.
  • The first ever Holiday Lights Dash was held during the Blaine Holiday Harbor Lights festival.
  • Blaine chopped the 2013 BTAC tourism grant funding due to budget shortfalls, leaving many local organizations fumbling for funding. 
  • Birch Bay Drive was battered by high tides and high winds as seawater inundated homes and businesses. 
  • Ken Hertz was honored as the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 “Man of the Year.”
  • Blaine High School celebrated its 23rd annual “Roman Banquet.” 
  • Birch Bay ended the New Year with its fifth annual Ring of Fire and Hope, where flares turned the night sky red to mark the turning of another year.