Not taking it: the hows and whys of religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement

November 19, 2021
Matt Benoit

With some employees seeking religious or medical exemption from the state’s COVID-19 mandate, employers and workers both have continued to adapt over the past month to how that plays out in the workplace. Receiving a medical exemption is often relatively straightforward, but religious exemptions are less so, in the application and the approval processes.

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In country, town and city, treatment for drug addiction is urgently needed

November 18, 2021
Heather Spaulding

Harm reduction programs and collaborations among police, health professionals and society at large pave the pathways to treatment needed by those addicted to drugs, agreed an expert panel at the recent Ralph Munro seminar. Along with looking at why people turn to drugs and how to get them the help they need to overcome addiction, the panel offered ideas as to what’s needed in the way of policy.

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On the street and in the forum: tackling homelessness with meaningful solutions

November 12, 2021
Mallory Biggar

The complex and urgent problem of homelessness has been the focus of academics and policy makers as well as people with a firsthand knowledge of the experience, in two separate gatherings recently in Bellingham — and activists say that those most affected should be involved in creating solutions.

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Community Voices / East Whatcom parents say, ‘We want our youth to stay drug-free!’

November 11, 2021
Wa'Lynn Klein, Emma Giri, Kristi Slette and Matthew Thuney

East Whatcom County parents want their youth to stay drug- and alcohol-free. To that end, the Mount Baker Community Coalition engaged a local teen as a Summer Youth Prevention Fellow in a collaborative effort with alcohol and cannabis retailers, to increase safe storage and reduce youth access to those substances.

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The Gardenview Village tiny homes open avenues of hope for those experiencing homelessness

November 5, 2021
Lauren Gallup

Gardenview Village, a new community of tiny homes located off Lakeway Drive in Bellingham, will include 35 houses to serve unhoused members of the community when complete. The site already is providing homes to some residents since opening in mid-October.

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Community Voices / The loudest jets in the quietest park: How Growlers invaded the Olympics

November 4, 2021
Karen Sullivan

It’s good to take a rational look at how we came to have an electronic warfare training range for the loudest jets on the planet over the quietest national park in the lower 48, writes a Community Voices commentator.

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COVID-19 cases highest among 18- to 24-year-olds as students return to campuses

October 20, 2021
Mallory Biggar

At the same time students were returning to university, community college and technical college campuses that had been closed to in-person instruction for a year and a half — and where full vaccination against COVID-19 is now required — the 18- to 24-year-old age group was reporting the highest number of cases.

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Election 2021: Addressing homelessness is priority for city, county candidates — and there’s agreement on how to do so

October 14, 2021
Lauren Gallup

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.

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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: City, county candidates vary on police reform needs, approaches

October 7, 2021
Stella Harvey

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.

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‘Food hub plus’ part of ambitious collaboration to meet housing and food needs

October 1, 2021
Lane Morgan

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.

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Vaccine mandate becoming latest COVID ‘new normal’ for work or play

September 24, 2021
Matt Benoit

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.

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Whatcom director among public health leaders stressed by threats, resistance re pandemic management

August 11, 2021
Stephen S. Howie / Crosscut.com

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.

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photo: Matt Benoit © 2021

Prepared for the worst, local agencies plan wildfire-fighting strategies while hoping for the best

August 5, 2021
Matt Benoit

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.

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Community Voices / New police laws will make our communities safer

August 3, 2021
Sen. Liz Lovelett, Rep. Debra Lekanoff and Rep. Alex Ramel

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.

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Whatcom council axes young adult social media COVID campaign despite vaccination success

July 15, 2021
Ella Banken

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.

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