News in Brief

Published on Thu, Dec 4, 2003
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News in Brief

Train breaks down, horn blows for 45 minutes
A southbound Amtrak train broke down at about 7 p.m. last Saturday after stopping for a U.S. customs inspection. The train experienced a mechanical failure for 45 minutes, locking up the train�s brakes and causing its loud air-horn to blow continuously. Passengers and several customs inspectors aboard the train were stuck inside. No emergencies occurred, but the fire department and coast guard were notified of the situtation during the blocking.

Alcoa gives county $309,000 for programs
Whatcom County executive Pete Kremen and Alcoa Intalco recently announced the approval of a major grant to Whatcom County government as part of the Alcoa-BPA community support program. The county will receive $309,000 this year for support within a variety of county directed programs designed to contribute to the quality of life. Funds include $15,000 for the Womens Care shelter, $10,000 for the YWCA-Lydia Place, $54,929 for the teen adventure program and $20,500 for the transportation planning.

Man obstructs traffic, tries to fight police officer
A 23-year-old man attempted to fight with a Blaine police officer after he and two friends were contacted while walking in the road, according to police reports. On Wednesday, November 26, a concerned motorist had reported to police that three people were walking and obstructing traffic in the 2500 block of Bell Road. When an officer arrived to warn them of their behavior, Mark Anthony Humphreys, of Axton Road in Bellingham, tried to fight the officer. Humphreys was arrested and booked into jail for disorderly conduct and other charges. The two other people who had been in the roadway apologized for their friend�s behavior, according to police.

Blaine boardwalk project moving forward
The Blaine boardwalk project is moving forward, according to community development director Terry Galvin. City staff hopes to have the project open for bidding by the first of March. The $1.5 million boardwalk is planned to be constructed on western Peace Portal Drive, between G and H streets, and will include viewing shelters and a promenade. Construction is hoped to begin next summer and completed the following fall. The city of Blaine plans to pay for the project through hotel-motel funds, economic development grants and loans.

County passes $124 million budget, adds deputy
The Whatcom County council approved a $124 million budget last month, bringing an additional deputy to the understaffed sheriff�s office. The addition means the department will have two deputies working on the increasing problem of methamphetamine, and a third will live and work in Kendall, an area that has experienced both significant growth and crime. The department had asked for six new corrections officers; however, that was not granted.

Regulatory panel approves natural gas pipeline
The Canadian portion of the Georgia Strait Crossing Project, a $248 million natural gas pipeline from Vancouver Island to the B.C. mainland, was approved last week by a regulatory panel formed under federal environmental and energy legislation. The pipeline would stretch about 37 miles from a location on the Canada-United States border east of Saturna Island, B.C. to an existing pipeline on Vancouver Island. The project still requires regulatory approval for the proposed Vancouver Island Generation Project facility near Nanaimo, B.C., as well as other conditions. The Georgia Strait Crossing Project is sponsored by both the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority and Williams Gas Pipeline Company LLC.

Christmas bird count set for Friday, December 19
Audubon invites local birders and nature enthusiasts to take part in the 104th annual Christmas bird count, Audubon�s longest-running winter-time tradition. The bird count is open to birders of all skill levels and will be held on Friday, December 19 aboard a ferry run from Anacortes, WA to Sidney B.C. During this year�s count, Audubon is highlighting the fact that many of the birds that will be counted are produced in the great North American boreal forest that extends from Alaska to eastern Canada. At the close of the count, Audubon will analyze the population status and trends of the birds of the boreal forests to see how these species are faring. Boreal species that appear to be declining that are commonly seen on Christmas bird counts include belted kingfisher, northern flicker, white-throated sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, purple finch, pine siskin, and especially rusty blackbird. The registration fee is $5. For more information, contact RB Porter at 332-6799 or email

County flood fee replaced with flood taxes
For the eighth year in a row, Whatcom County property owners will see no overall property tax increase; however, those with property over $700,000 in value will see an increase. The county council voted last month to replace the flood fee with two flood taxes, a new system collecting money for water resource projects and flood prevention. Property owners will be taxed about 30 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value. About two percent of county property owners are affected by the new flood taxes. The council decided to change the flood funding process because water districts were concerned that flood fees weren�t being spent in a way that benefits paying property owners.