Election 2021: Addressing homelessness is priority for city, county candidates — and there’s agreement on how to do so
Candidates for Bellingham city and Whatcom County councils share concern that there are not enough options for people living unhoused in the area, and incumbents and challengers both say they want to do more to address the housing crisis.
‘Where’s the ferry?’ islanders ask as crew shortages stymie scheduled sailings
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.
Election 2021: City, county candidates vary on police reform needs, approaches
Urgency around police reform and public safety has not brought people to the streets this year, but voters in Bellingham and Whatcom County have the opportunity to weigh in on what approach their local officials should take when it comes to local policing and public safety.
‘Food hub plus’ part of ambitious collaboration to meet housing and food needs
A complex housing and food resources proposal for the Bellingham waterfront aims to employ a fusion of community and economic development in “a once in a lifetime opportunity” to meet local food supply needs — with the help of local farmers and suppliers.
Vaccine mandate becoming latest COVID ‘new normal’ for work or play
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 ravages the unvaccinated population, killing some and filling hospitals, public, private, and government entities have renewed masking mandates, and more are enacting vaccination mandates and requiring proof of testing to stamp out the virus from places of both work and play.
Whatcom director among public health leaders stressed by threats, resistance re pandemic management
Email threats, irate officials and dealing with misinformation have become part of the job for stress-filled public health workers, including the director of Whatcom County’s health department.
Prepared for the worst, local agencies plan wildfire-fighting strategies while hoping for the best
Whatcom County’s emergency management teams will focus this year’s training on fighting wildfires, and are stepping up reminders to the community that most such fires are caused by human actions — and therefore preventable.
Community Voices / New police laws will make our communities safer
In response to “a clear call” for reforms in criminal justice and police accountability, Washington’s state legislature responded with several new laws. Now, 40th District legislators say they believe there has been some misinterpretation of the new laws, and hope that lawmakers and law enforcement agencies will continue to work to implement the new laws in good faith.
Whatcom council axes young adult social media COVID campaign despite vaccination success
In January, Whatcom County began an awareness campaign to engage young adults with information about COVID-19 safety. On June 29, a tie vote by the county council nixed an extension of the campaign.
Search for new police chief surfaces questions about transparency and the public’s role
As the City of Bellingham, city council and the newly formed Racial Equity Commission seek to address systemic racism in and out of policing, some community members looking to engage in the selection process for a new police chief in good faith have raised questions about the city’s commitment to transparency.
As gun death rates rise in Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties, state refocuses to public health approach
With the number of gun deaths in Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties on the rise and outpacing statewide trends, policy and law makers are stressing public health-focused solutions that could be more effective in prevention than legal tactics.
Law and order, alternatives to jail: Bellingham compiles a wide-ranging priorities wish list for new police chief
As Bellingham’s search for a new police chief moves forward, the community has weighed in on what priorities should be under new leadership: some say law and order should top the list, others say it’s time to reimagine policing.
Who’s getting their shots? Whatcom develops a new strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations
Whatcom County health officials are now reporting COVID-19 vaccine rates in the county by school district, enabling a new, more strategic approach to making vaccine opportunities available to reach the largest number of people and those with access problems.
Community Voices / Local team launches innovative approach to help curb climate change
We must act, not just worry, and use as many solutions as possible to curb climate change as we can, say a team of professors, graduate fellows, student interns and sustainability professionals working on one solution for Whatcom County — that can be replicated anywhere.
Doing the work of the people: Nooksack adjudication, Billy Frank, Jr., statue and a wrap-up of 40th and 42nd legislator success
How did bills introduced by 40th and 42nd District legislators fare in the session ending on April 25? See an update on the full list: planning for zero-emissions transportation, standardizing definitions around homelessness to help improve services, and more.
Caught in a web of causes: homelessness hits harder than ever
The growing presence of unhoused individuals and their expanding footprint into residential neighborhoods has shocked and bewildered others in the community, while the urgency of the problem threatens to distract from understanding the underlying realities perpetuating this crisis.