Letters to the Editor -- September 29, 2005

Published on Thu, Sep 29, 2005
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Letters to the Editor

The Editor:
The “T and G Show” was in fine form earlier this month when they conducted the neighborhood survey in preparation for making zoning recommendations in Blaine’s comprehensive plan. It was an expert engendering of feedback – sprinkled with a little humor – and this is as it should be with a city manager style of government that derives the brunt of its authority from the local residents.
While I did not attend the first session, I am not fully appraised of the horrors presented by whatever developers may have been in attendance, but I did detect from Gary on subsequent evenings concurrent with the neighborhood view that the condo being built at 3rd and Alder streets was “too big” and “blocking the view.” And I could see on Terry’s part that there was the insistence upon support for vested interests that compromise density problems in the lettered streets neighborhood, while completely abrogating any reasonable response to the density that will be necessary along Peace Portal Drive, if Blaine is to be utilized in the right way for its economic revitalization.
According to this outside observer, there needed to be more from T and G in the way of educating those with vested interests in the neighborhoods about the requirements newly built, high-end condos need for owner’s comfort and security. Also, there was no mention made of the proposed boardwalk being designed as a means of mitigating the expected density along Peace Portal Drive.
In addition, I caught Terry red-handed “throwing a sop” to the Salishan neighborhood in his recommendations concerning one particular block of Cedar Street. It will be up to the planning staff and the city council now to pare down this political grandstanding to sensible and reasonable expectations of buffered concessions in the transition zone – which should likely mean both increased density and ameliorative design.
Everett Barton
Bellingham

The Editor:
When Mount St. Helen erupted, the Toledo airport and Chehalis airport were heavily utilized during emergency response and disaster relief efforts. Similar events are occurring in the Gulf Coast. The availability of an airport facility next to one of the country’s major ports of entry is important.
I have seen military Black Hawk helicopters and numerous Border Patrol aircraft at the Blaine airport. There are many transient aircraft that use the airport. Pilots, from Lopez Island and Orcas Island land in Blaine and shop at Cost Cutter and Rite Aid. Air ambulance and life flight helicopter operations would be difficult, in Blaine, if the airport was shut down.
A committee is being established to study alternate uses for the airport property. Special interests have started a campaign to shut down the airport before any alternate land use proposals have been identified or examined for feasibility. The city planning department has already developed a master plan and should have developed a cost benefit analysis for various land use alternatives, which includes the airport property. Consistent with this master plan, the city has applied for a $16 million FAA airport improvement grant.
What will be the true costs associated with closing the airport? What about existing airport leases and recent improvements made by private developers? What will be the cost of litigation to resolve these issues and determine a fair cash settlement?
The airport is a public use facility. The role of government is to provide services, protect the people, and create a positive environment for economic growth. The airport itself is not supposed to turn a profit. The $16 million FAA airport improvement grant will create jobs and business opportunities. Bel-lingham Aviations Services is looking at the possibility of operating a fixed base operation and air taxi service in Blaine.
The airport expansion proposal has attracted interest. We need to examine the business opportunities created by the airport expansion, question the motives of the special interest groups, and determine the true costs and impacts associated with closing the airport.
Patrick Armijo
Blaine

The Editor:
As a private pilot and active member of the aviation community, it is imperative that Blaine City Council do everything in its power to keep the Blaine airport open and to make the necessary investments to ensure that it prospers.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, a 2001 economic study found that Washington state’s general aviation airports alone generate 7,600 jobs, $141 million in wages and $500 million in total sales each year. As critical links in the Washington state transportation system, general aviation airports should not be closed.
It is my understanding that the FAA is considering an investment of more than $15 million to improve the Blaine airport. Just imagine what that investment will do for Blaine’s tourism and recreation economy! In addition to the positive economic impacts, it should be noted that rural airports like Blaine provide essential services such as search and rescue, access to quality health care and the transport of trauma patients. Rural airports can also provide critical access in the event of a natural disaster.
Blaine airport is a valuable economic asset, which the city of Blaine must cultivate. If it is closed, Blaine will never get it back!
Colleen Turner
Renton

The Editor:
Four residents of the lettered streets neighborhood met September 20 to take steps toward organizing a viable association, perhaps along the lines of Salishan.
The attendees, wishing to build membership, have scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, October 18 at 6:30 p.m. Location will be determined according to the number of neighborhood residents who express their interest by telephone. Call any of the following residents of the lettered streets neighborhood: Pam Free, 332-3219; Margie Rasmussen, 332-7244; Maureen Scott, 332-5550; or Richard Clark, 332-5175.
Each of the neighborhood residents listed above believes it is highly worthwhile to organize and hold regular meetings. The group hopes every Blaine neighborhood will successfully organize.
Richard Clark
Blaine

The Editor:
Kathy Berg is the chair of the Birch Bay steering committee. Since she had another letter published this month, she asked me to respond to Jo Slivinski’s letter of September 21. While it seems she greatly exceeded her 350-word limit, she erroneously signed her letter indicating her affiliation with the Birch Bay steering committee. Both Kathy and I were appalled at this inappropriate reference. The Birch Bay steering committee has no political role in the current elections. Anyone connected with this committee should not misrepresent themselves as endorsing a candidate and giving the inference that it is the Birch Bay steering committee’s endorsement.
As a result of Jo Slivinski’s inappropriate letter, Kathy Berg has contacted all members emphatically emphasizing that no member endorse any political candidate with a reference to our committee.
Anyone connected with the steering committee certainly can write a letter as an individual endorsing or recommending a vote for their particular candidate. Regrettably, she made a serious error in judgment and we trust that she will write another letter to your paper clarifying her very lengthy speech about her candidate.
Mickey Masdeo
Birch Bay

The Editor:
The war between the opponents and supporters of the airport is heating up, fueled by the erroneous information real estate salesman Dennis Hill has been providing the local newspapers and the citizens of Blaine.
His ignorance as to the “value of an airport,” how it’s funded and its internal workings is of no consequence to him as all he sees is an opportunity to be the person to finally put an end to the financial burden the airport puts on its tax-paying citizens. He had portrayed himself as Blaine businessman, but doesn’t have a Blaine business license and as I know, doesn’t even live in Blaine nor does he have a right to vote here. He has since retracted the title “local businessman” to finally admit he is only a real estate salesman – the Pied Piper of Blaine as I see him.
Why does this person have such a vendetta against our airport, when if the airport were to close, he doesn’t know what a better use of the airport property would be, he just knows it shouldn’t be an airport. One quote in the Bellingham Herald on September 10 says “… After 30 to 40 years of squabbling over it, the majority of people in Blaine are asking why they are planning to put $16 million into it.” To me, he is suggesting the citizens of Blaine are having to foot the bill. Well, now that sure is misleading!
If the FAA were to approve the master expansion plan, which is now up for review by the FAA, they would be paying the bills, not the citizens of Blaine. Citizens have already spent the required percentage of money required for the expansion, as I know it. How can Hill say the majority of the people are asking this question and when did we put this matter to a vote? We haven’t! What we have done three times in the past is to vote to keep and expand the airport – by the majority. I can only hope that the citizens of Blaine can see how misleading Hill is and that they have the foresight to see why he is stirring up such contempt and hatred in our city – personal greed. He is not even waiting to have all the facts in from “alternative airport use studies” before launching a campaign to close the airport that will eventually “be costly to the citizens of Blaine, not him!”
I think the majority of Blaine citizens will make the necessary steps to research the value of an airport, what’s an airport worth?” by logging onto websites provided by such agencies as aircraft owners and pilots association, and experimental aircraft association, Washington department of transportation, federal aviation administration and more. With additional information, they will be able to better make a mature and rational decision. Get the facts prior to sentencing and condemning our airport to death.
Clarence M. Ranck
Blaine

The Editor:
As a retiring county council member, I first want to thank all of you from district three who supported me during my campaign and during the four years of my public service. I worked hard to serve you well. I am proud of the council’s record during my tenure. I sincerely hope you feel your support was worth the effort.
There are two candidates vying for my open position on the council. As the incumbent, I feel an obligation to let you know where I stand. I truly dislike the polarization that is the norm in both local and national politics.
Both Mr. Kent and Mr. Weimer are honorable people. Both possess personal qualities which would fit well with the current council’s ability to work together regardless of political affiliation. My vote however, will go to Mr. Carl Weimer, and I do urge voters in district three to follow my lead and vote for the man who has the most outstanding qualifications I have ever seen in a local candidate. Mr. Weimer has spent the last 20 years working in the public service arena. He served as director for a work program for the developmentally disabled. He is an experienced businessman, starting the RE Store in Bellingham which is a major employer in the area and has become a national model.
As the director of resources, Mr. Weimer initiated the Baykeeper and Watershed Pledge programs. After the horrific pipeline explosion in our county, Carl Weimer stepped up to help. He was recruited by both the state and federal governments to work on pipeline issues. He collaborated and negotiated with industry representatives and federal legislators on both sides of the aisle to craft and pass national pipeline safety legislation.
Your county council makes decisions that affect your life on a daily basis. We vote on issues that make a difference in your quality of life. We set the county’s priorities. You will live with those decisions for the next 50 years. Mr. Weimer’s experience and character make him a perfect fit for that challenging job.
Sharon Roy
Birch Bay

The Editor:
Thank you to all our many friends that helped to make the celebration of Les Willmore’s life so wonderful this past weekend at the American Legion in Blaine. So many friends helped with so many things since Les died, it is impossible to name you all – but we thank you very much.
We would also like to thank the U.S. Border Patrol and the Blaine police department for sending out officers to participate in the gun salute ceremonies to honor Les’s service in both those departments in the city of Blaine.
We hope to place a plaque down at the harbor in memory of Les, where you all can go to visit him, over the years. Donations towards the plaque can be made to the “Les Willmore Memorial Fund” at the Banner Bank in Blaine.
It was nice to see the old pictures of Les that friends brought to the celebration, and we look forward to seeing the other pictures that friends are still looking for. Our phone number is 332-5773, or email stories and pictures to: BarbWillmore@hotmail.com. Thank you for sharing your memories of Les.
Once again, thank you for all your help. I am sure Les enjoyed the party. Your kindness and thoughtfulness is very much appreciated and will always be remembered.
Barbara, Laura & Pat Willmore
Blaine

The Editor:
The purpose of this letter is to clarify the position of the Whatcom County sheriff’s office with respect to activities announced by the Minuteman organization. The Minutemen contacted law enforcement agencies and revealed plans to monitor the border and report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol.
The stated purpose of their activity is to deter violations of federal law and draw Congressional attention to what they see as inadequate border security. The Minutemen stated that they will not detain or attempt to detain anyone and their activity will be limited to the immediate area of the border.
I agree that law enforcement at the border is best performed by professionally trained law enforcement officers.
However, so long as the Minutemen abide by their stated objectives, the activity they propose is lawful. Law enforcement lacks authority to intervene unless and until someone abandons these objectives and commits a crime. I have clearly communicated to the Minutemen that any such criminal conduct will not be tolerated and will result in swift enforcement action by the sheriff’s office.
Neither the sheriff’s office nor the Border Patrol invited the planned activities of the Minutemen. However, from a public safety perspective, it is prudent that the sheriff’s office maintain communication with the leadership of the Minutemen, human and civil rights advocacy groups concerned about their activities and our partners in federal and local law enforcement. Towards that end, we have met with representatives from all these groups and also hosted joint meetings between the groups. Voluntary compliance on a number of issues designed to protect the public have been secured. This includes agreements that participants not trespass on private property, possess or consume intoxicants, openly carry firearms (by law they may carry concealed firearms pursuant to a permit) or engage in any unlawful conduct.
The sheriff’s office will work with the Blaine police department, other local law enforcement, the U.S. Border Patrol and citizens to monitor activities and protect the rights and safety of our community.
Bill Elfo,
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