Letters to the Editor -- April 14, 2005

Published on Thu, Apr 14, 2005
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
On February 22, I was in Blaine. I had just left the truck border crossing after being told there was a 72-hour waiting period for U.S. customs to process the export papers, so that I could import an RV into Canada that I had bought in Alabama.
I was told by U.S. customs to find a storage facility or to go camping for five days. As Monday was President’s Day and there would be no staff to help me on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, I drove to a little plaza near the truck crossing. I went into the grocery store and asked for permission to park my RV for five days, with an explanation as to why I wanted to park there. This is where I met Leo Wegner. He had overhead my conversation as I explained it to the clerk in the store. He offered to store my RV for free at his home, which was located just a few miles from the plaza. He knew I was in need of a friendly gesture. I took him up on his offer.
Not only did Mr. Wegner store my RV for five days but he offered to drive me to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal in B.C. so that I could return home to Vancouver Island to be with my family. I offered to pay him for taking me to the ferry, which was a 45-minute drive, but he said no. I returned five days later to pick up my RV. I had decided to leave Leo a $100 check, as he wasn’t home. He called me on the day the check was dated and said he did not want to be paid for helping a person in need.
What our world needs is more people like Leo. Thanks, Leo, for being good people.
Harold Wiebe
Vancouver Island, B.C.

The Editor:
If you didn’t attend the concerts on March 22 and March 31 at Ferndale and Blaine high schools, each featuring an outstanding high school band from Japan, then you really missed something!! Some people merely said “wow!” and others said “I don’t know what to say to describe them other than great!” Mr. Richard Clark stated, “....these young musicians do more to promote international understanding and world peace than a whole barrelful of politicians!”
I thank the students from Takanawadai high school and Asahikawa commerce high school for sharing their music and their spirit with us, for visiting our classrooms to teach our students origami, games and language, and for sharing their hearts and souls with us even though it was for such a short time.
I need to say thank you to the wonderful families from Blaine and Ferndale who hosted these fine young musicians in their homes for dinner, to Greg Avery, manager of Blaine Cost Cutter and Cameron Rector of Haggen Ferndale for donating dinners for the directors and chaperones, Jensens Floral and Blaine Bouquet for donating the bouquets for the directors, Silva Gore and Mary Freeman from Seaside Bakery Café for desserts, Totally Chocolate for providing chocolate CD’s and bars as gifts, the city of Blaine for providing the “Blaine pins” for each band member, Blaine and Ferndale school districts for providing performance facilities, Bob Boulet of Smugglers Inn – dining facility, Starbucks-Ferndale and Blaine Fine Arts Assocation for providing coffee, Ferndale high school band directors Joe Dyvig and Steve Menefee, Blaine band director Bob Gray, Dorita Gray, Jim Kenoyer, Leroy Dougal, Deb Cummings (and the elementary school staff and students) and everyone who had any part in helping out – Thank you, thank you, thank you! Without all of you being so kind and generous this would not have been such a success!
The students played their hearts out, danced and sang for two very appreciative audiences and I know from speaking with them before they returned home to Japan, they left with great experiences and memories from Whatcom County and the United States!
Domo arigatou gozaimasu!
Leslee Smith
Blaine

The Editor and the Blaine community:
Each year the Blaine school district approaches the community for financial support, volunteers for extracurricular events as well as general support for academic and sporting events. Each year families in the community do a great service to the district by approving the levies and showing their concern for students through participation and attendance of events and activities.
The graduating class of 2005 and their families are no exception – throughout the years, as their children passed from grade to grade in the system, the parents and extended family of each student did their part in anticipation of the day when their child would make the final walk for their diploma.
Of course this is great cause for celebration and over the years the local wisdom has been to provide the graduating students a safe event for graduation night reducing the element of risk for over exuberant graduates. Once again the community is charged with supporting this worthwhile cause by digging into their pockets and helping in any way possible. Traditionally, the school district has provided buses for the graduation event with parents footing the bill and pitching in their time as chaperones. Additionally, the bus drivers donate their time – all with the intention of keeping our new graduating class safe on the eve of this exciting milestone in their lives.
Still, the cost for hosting such an event can be several thousand dollars – arguably, a small price when weighed against the possible accidental injury or loss of even one member of the class. However, it remains an expense all the same. This year the parents of the graduating class have asked for the school district’s assistance in providing the buses and were flatly refused with insurance concerns being cited as the reason for the refusal by our new superintendent. This will add in excess of $1,000 to the costs already being absorbed by the families that have given so much for so many years. Possibly we should all remember this the next time our school district comes to the community with their hand out.
Perhaps a few phone calls to the administration or school board members are in order as well. The board members are in the phone book, the administrative office number is 332-5881.
Len Beckett
Blaine

The Editor:
Yesterday after months of anticipation, I installed a sculpture named Sensei in your Peace Arch sculpture park. Experience with arts organizations dating back to the ’50s has given me a clear and cynical view of “volunteer” groups. Usually, well-intentioned and enthusiastic individuals bumble about trying to do the right thing but not succeeding and in most cases making a mess of whatever they touch.
I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am with the people who pulled off the sculpture exhibit installation yesterday. A team of focused, competent people headed by Christina Alexander performed so admirably that I think they should package their effort and sell it. I think that, and I would seriously propose it, were it not for one critical detail; this team’s efforts are powered by a critical ingredient, the power to help people understand something greater than themselves. Nowhere is this so important as in this border community. Christina actually used the phrase “promote peace between nations” in describing her view of the importance of this collaborative sculpture exhibit. She didn’t say this in the context of a grandiose speech to the gathered artists but to me as an individual. I became instantly resonant. How could it be that I had made this sculpture that recognizes the collaboration of Japanese and American people across border and boundaries and not understand until someone else articulated it?  These volunteers are as important to peace between nations as any high-powered ambassador.
Professional, organized, focused people have a great value in the achievement of goals and aspirations in our society. As value goes this team and their leader are at the very front of the line. Bravo! 
Allen T. Emhoff, artist,
allen@emhoff.com             
Seattle

The Editor:
Earlier this month, the staff of the Education Service Center completed the move into our new building. This wonderful new facility was made possible with the financial support of our local voters who passed the Capital Projects Bond.
On behalf of the staff, our board members and especially the students, we would like to express our thanks to the Blaine community. The new building provides us improved organization ability and larger work areas. We have already hosted a number of group meetings and look forward to holding a student workshop later this month.
We are planning an open house for April 20, from 3 – 6 p.m. and hope everyone will stop by to tour the new facility.
Mary Lynne Derrington,
Blaine schools superintendent
Blaine

The Editor:
This is in response to Ray Wilkett’s letter published in the April 7 edition of The Northern Light. I am reluctant to engage in a debate with Mr. Wilkett in the newspaper; however, I feel compelled to set the record straight for your readers.
Mr. Wilkett refers to budgets as though they represent costs to the city. While his budget totals are correct, he fails to mention offsetting revenues earned by the airport and what the net cost to the city was. The truth is that during the period from 2001 to 2004, the airport’s net profit from operation was $4,393.
In addition to the above, during the past few years the city has been involved in condemnation proceedings to acquire property to the south of the airport in order to remove trees that were hazardous to airplanes using the airport. These proceedings resulted in a jury award against the city that was far in excess of the amount estimated by the city’s appraiser and necessitated the borrowing of additional funds. The final cost to acquire Mr. Carruther’s property, including legal costs, will be approximately $500,000. This is partially offset by state grants totaling $170,000, leaving a net cost to the city of approximately $330,000 but the city ends up with a piece of property that was valued by the jury at $375,000. Assuming this value is correct, the property acquisition has not resulted in a loss for the city and it is our intention that the costs of servicing the debt will ultimately be paid from airport revenues and will not be a burden on the taxpayers.
Mr. Wilkett refers to a debt owed by the airport to the city in the amount of $782,533. That is born out of a theory developed by him that the airport owes land costs, rent and interest for roads covered by the airport that, through an oversight, were not properly vacated. That problem is being addressed by the city and is not likely to result in any amount being payable by the airport.
Mr. Wilkett states that the airport only serves five airplanes. I assume he is counting the airplanes that are tied down outside. The majority of the airplanes at the airport are kept in hangars to protect them from the elements. The actual number of airplanes based at our airport at last count was 27. In addition to those, many transient airplanes use our airport and, when they do, the pilots and passengers frequent businesses in our community and add to the economic well being of our city.
The airport is a vital link in our transportation network. It can provide stimulus to economic growth and enable essential services to respond in a timely fashion in times of emergency. Let’s stop thinking like a small border fishing village and embrace the vibrant future that awaits this city on the brink of an unprecedented period of growth, both physically and economically.
Doug Fenton, chair, Blaine
airport commission
Blaine

Letters Policy
The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank-you letters should be limited to 10 names. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please send your letter to:
225 Marine Drive, Blaine, WA 98230 or fax 360/332-2777.
E-mail:editor@thenorthernlight.com

Letters Policy

The Northern Light welcomes letters to the editor; however, the opinions expressed are not those of the editor. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters must not exceed 350 words and may be edited or rejected for reasons of legality, length and good taste. Thank you letters are limited to five individuals or groups. A fresh viewpoint on matters of general interest to local readers will increase the likelihood of publication. Writers should avoid personal invective. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication. Requests for withholding names will be considered on an individual basis. Only one letter per month from an individual correspondent will be published.

Please email letters to letters@thenorthernlight.com