Child care shortfall frustrates families, hampers local economy
Demand far outstrips the supply of available and affordable child care locally. The problem is multifaceted, as solutions also will need to be: Part 1.
Local unionization efforts aim to raise wages, lower burnout
Unionization efforts in retail, healthcare and journalism have become more frequent since the pandemic heightened awareness of risks and hazards for workers.
‘Not normal’ high prices, low availability challenge car shoppers
In a semi-post-pandemic world, the automobile market is among many businesses suffering from factory shutdowns, computer chip shortages and inflation, leaving prices rising and inventory low.
Retail theft surge prompts varied responses
As the presence of security guards grows in response to increased retail theft, some residents say de-escalation is a better strategy.
Fire damages historic downtown Friday Harbor buildings
No one was injured in an early-morning blaze on lower Spring Street in Friday Harbor that was reported when it drew the attention of a passing driver at 3:43 am. At least four businesses sustained damage.
Reuse, repurpose, re-imagine: mall properties are in transition
What’s next for once-major shopping malls in Skagit and Whatcom counites that are among others nationwide seeing vacant storefronts on the rise? Some are empty shells possibly facing demolition, while others seem to be in the process of reinventing their roles in real-life brick-and-mortar.
Recent robberies prompt renewed look at security for cannabis retailers
An uptick in brazen robberies and burglaries of regional cannabis retailers since November has prompted local dispensaries to reinforce security, while the cash-only operations — legal here for eight years — remain stifled by banking regulations related to marijuana’s federal illegality.
Blockbuster year for power outages pushes need to plan
Electrical power was out due to severe weather almost three times more hours in 2021 than in 2020 for customers of one of the state’s largest utilities, prompting some customers to look at fallback plans — and for insights as to how outages are managed.
Anticipated Salish Sea vessel traffic increases spark calls for more environmental protections
Fossil fuel and terminal expansion projects up and down the Salish Sea are estimated to boost annual shipping vessel traffic by at least 25% in the near future, and the projected increase has raised concerns about increased risk to the environment.
21st century evolves from setbacks to optimism for developer David Syre
Despite success in the 1980s and 1990s, Whatcom County real estate developer David Syre and the company he founded faced setbacks at the turn of the new century. These days, he looks forward to countering misinformation through a local news project.
Half a century on, Syre influence continues in Whatcom County
Local real estate developer David Syre was a driving force behind some of the most high-profile Whatcom County construction over the last 40 years. His vision evoked both applause and dismay, not only locally, but from Alaska’s Kodiak Island to the tip of South America. Now spending his time primarily as a painter and philanthropist, Syre has turned his focus back on Whatcom County.
Growth in local cannabis business amplifies challenges as well as revenues
Cannabis industries in Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties have experienced a large increase in both revenue for retailers and excise tax proceeds for governments over the past two years. But sales growth means competition for supplies and workspace, and smaller, more locally based businesses are struggling to keep a foothold among the bigger players.
Businesses open but not ‘as usual’ as pandemic continues to affect restaurant staff, management
Restaurants are open for business but definitely not back to normal, as management and staff work their way through post-pandemic-shutdown changing realities. While federal support dollars helped many owners to carry on and stay in business, the industry is seeing a trend toward workers leaving, prompted by concerns for their physical and mental health as well as newly difficult social interactions in an already stressful work environment.
Small batches, partnerships and goats: family dairies evolve to survive
Whatcom County is one of the top milk-producing counties in the state — and nationwide — but the business of dairy has changed, with increasing costs for land, equipment and labor; new technology; and competition from the world market. But family farms remain in the county — and many are surviving changes in the industry by making changes of their own.
Community Voices / How farmers can fight climate change
Farmers are in a powerful position to help curb climate change, and many locally already are taking steps to do so, note dairy farmer Katherine Steensma and author Stevan Harrell. While this bodes well for the future of agriculture here, there is more to be done to stop “wasting and poisoning the good and beautiful things of the world”: natural resources.