Fire damages historic downtown Friday Harbor buildings

April 7, 2022
Nancy DeVaux

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.

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Reuse, repurpose, re-imagine: mall properties are in transition

March 25, 2022
Matt Benoit

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.

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Recent robberies prompt renewed look at security for cannabis retailers

February 11, 2022
Matt Benoit

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.

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Blockbuster year for power outages pushes need to plan

February 2, 2022
Kenneth Duncan

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.

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Anticipated Salish Sea vessel traffic increases spark calls for more environmental protections

January 28, 2022
Clifford Heberden

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.

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21st century evolves from setbacks to optimism for developer David Syre

December 23, 2021
Matt Benoit

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.

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Half a century on, Syre influence continues in Whatcom County

December 17, 2021
Matt Benoit

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.

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Growth in local cannabis business amplifies challenges as well as revenues

December 16, 2021
Kenneth Duncan

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.

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Businesses open but not ‘as usual’ as pandemic continues to affect restaurant staff, management

December 9, 2021
Mallory Biggar

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.

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Small batches, partnerships and goats: family dairies evolve to survive

December 3, 2021
Lauren Gallup

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.

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Community Voices / How farmers can fight climate change

November 17, 2021
Stevan Harrell and Katherine Steensma

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.

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Southwest Airlines lands in Bellingham as Canadians welcomed back to the U.S.

November 5, 2021
Ralph Schwartz
Southwest Airlines, one of North America’s four major airlines, will begin offering flights to Oakland and Las Vegas from Bellingham’s airport next month, a major move in the view of the Port of Bellingham.
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Election 2021: Parties aim to influence Port elections; candidates embrace nonpartisanship

October 13, 2021
Ralph Schwartz

Port of Bellingham commission seats are nonpartisan, but that doesn’t mean the political parties aren’t trying to sway the outcomes of this year’s elections with endorsements and campaign funding support.

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‘Where’s the ferry?’ islanders ask as crew shortages stymie scheduled sailings

October 12, 2021
Heather Spaulding

In San Juan County, where ferry service is an integral part of the state highway system, recent cancellations of ferry sailings related to crew shortages have resulted in some residents unable to get home, to work or to doctor appointments, and have delayed arrival of groceries and other vital supplies.

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Election 2021: Candidates vie to drive the engine of Whatcom County’s economic development

October 8, 2021
Ralph Schwartz

Two of three commissioner positions for the Port of Bellingham — the county’s economic engine — are up for election on the Nov. 2 ballot. Along with speaking to the issues, candidates have found they need to explain the job’s impact whenever they knock on voters’ doors.

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Election 2021: Grassroots effort puts four People First Bellingham initiatives before voters

October 7, 2021
Ella Banken

Bellingham voters will determine in the November election whether they want to live in a city with expanded protection for renters’ rights, where police can’t use invasive technology, where the right to unionize is protected and where hourly workers’ compensation is protected when they vote on four initiatives promoted by People First Bellingham.

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