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Education, Governance, Public Health

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

November 19, 2021
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.
Matt Benoit
Education, Public Health

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

November 18, 2021
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.
Heather Spaulding
Governance

Housing and growth issues surround Skagit County consideration of ‘fully contained community’ proposal

November 18, 2021
Mostly rural Skagit County — with a population density about half of Whatcom County to the north and one-sixth of Snohomish County to the south — has a big-county problem: housing. Planners are looking at solutions including a comp plan amendment to allow “fully contained communities,” or FCCs, to create urban villages in currently rural zones.
Lauren Gallup
Agriculture, Climate, Commerce, Community Voices, Environment

Community Voices / How farmers can fight climate change

November 17, 2021
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.
Stevan Harrell and Katherine Steensma
Education, Governance, Justice, Public Health

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

November 12, 2021
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.
Mallory Biggar
Transportation

Traveler beware: lack of food service at Lopez landing adds challenge to wait for a ferry

November 12, 2021
Remember to pack those snacks: cars leaving Lopez Island by ferry load on a first come, first served basis, and the wait can be hours-long when traffic is heavy and ferries are delayed or runs cancelled. The landing features a ticket office, waiting room and portable toilets … but a lone vending machine is the only option for food.
Gretchen K. Wing
Community Voices, Public Health

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

November 11, 2021
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.
Wa’Lynn Klein, Emma Giri, Kristi Slette and Matthew Thuney
Public Health, Justice

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

November 5, 2021
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.
Lauren Gallup
Commerce, Transportation

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

November 5, 2021
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.
Ralph Schwartz
Community Voices, Governance, Public Health

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

November 4, 2021
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.
Karen Sullivan
Climate, Community Voices, Environment, Transportation

Community Voices / Electric vehicles and the Tesla experience

November 4, 2021
With the state legislature and some local governments contemplating a future without fossil fuel-powered vehicles, Northwest Washington car buyers are beginning to ponder what it’s like to drive an electric vehicle — a computer on wheels — and some already are behind the wheel.
William Dietrich
Climate, Environment

Nooksack Tribe and partners face up to climate change challenge on South Fork Nooksack River

October 29, 2021
Since long before more than 2,000 chinook salmon died this summer before they could spawn in the South Fork Nooksack River, the Nooksack Indian Tribe has been working with a wide range of partners to plan for supporting at-risk habitat and species. A new report from the tribe aims to translate the science and put boots on the ground.
Kimberly Cauvel
Climate, Environment, Governance, Justice

Voters to have their say — amid controversy — on San Juan County charter amendments

October 28, 2021
San Juan County voters will have had their say by Nov. 2 on hotly debated amendments to their charter proposed by the Charter Review Commission. The amendments have raised controversy, with one group launching a campaign encouraging voters to reject all the proposals.  
Heather Spaulding
Climate, Governance

Whatcom County to consider climate change goals in delay of natural gas franchise renewal

October 28, 2021
The Whatcom County Council voted to reschedule until early January a decision renewing a franchise agreement with Cascade Natural Gas, following testimony by climate activists regarding the franchise’s effect on climate change goals — and after spirited discussion among council members.
Mallory Biggar
Justice

Continuing case backlog slows wheels of justice for Whatcom public defenders — and their clients

October 22, 2021
Public defenders report having hard conversations about what they see as “completely unfair” options with in-custody clients, as the pandemic-driven halt to jury trials keeps people who are denied or unable to afford bail incarcerated and unsure of when their days in court will arrive.
Matt Benoit
Culture, Environment

Fictional whale tale underscores real-life role of kinship in orcas’ survival

October 21, 2021
In the newly published novel “Beyond the Human Realm,” Lopez Island scientist and author Gene Helfman draws on the real-life intelligence of orcas in a fictional story that affirms that preservation of the species requires the adoption of an approach characterized by kinship.
Gretchen K. Wing

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