Generic News Photo

Ferndale council candidates debate

One of the three Ferndale City Council positions up for election this year will appear on your Primary Election ballot, being mailed to voters this week.

Ferndale voters will choose between Kate Bishop, the incumbent, and challengers Haley Fimbres and Robert J. Pinkley. 

The League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County will hold an on-line forum of these candidates Thursday July 22 at 6 p.m.

Watch the forum live online, listen live on KGMI, or listen to the recording after July 22. Visit lwvbellinghamwhatcom.org for the link to the live forum and recordings.

Ballots must be deposited in an official ballot box by 8 p.m. Aug. 3 or mailed through US Postal Service with a postmark no later than Aug. 3.

Ferndale voters will also vote on the County Council at-large position on their Primary ballot. The League held forums for this and other Primary races last week and the recordings are also available at their website. 

Injured fisherman rescued from ravine

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 7, Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a missing person who had not returned home from a day fishing trip at Race Horse Creek in the North Fork Road area.

According to a July 7 media release from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, deputies found the missing person’s vehicle unoccupied on a remote gravel road, and then followed a trail nearby.

“This trail ended near a ravine about a quarter of a mile later,” the release stated.

WCSO stated that deputies located the victim, a 65-year-old man from Bellingham, at the bottom of a 100-foot ravine. The man was reportedly “conscious and alert,” but had “injured his ankle and was not able to get back up the steep ravine.”

Whatcom County Fire District 14 was called to assist. According to WCSO, one deputy “was able to make his way down to the victim to assess his injuries and stayed with him for several hours while waiting for more aid to assist.”

Wire/EMS arrived on the scene at approximately 3:30 a.m. and were able to rescue the victim from the ravine, WCSO reported. 

The victim had minor injuries and required no hospitalization.

One lane of northbound I-5 to close at Bakerview July 14-16

The right lane on I-5 northbound at Bakerview (near milepost 257) will be closed at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, July 14, according to a July 8 news release from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The right lane will be closed continuously until 7 a.m. on Friday, July 16, the news release stated.

The left lane and interchange on- and off-ramps will remain open during this closure.

Travelers should expect delays during this closure, especially during peak travel times. When possible, drivers should use alternative routes, travel outside of peak travel times, and allow extra travel time. 

Drivers can get real-time traffic information on mobile phones with the WSDOT traffic app at wsdot.wa.gov/Inform/mobile.htm, and by following the WSDOT_north on Twitter.

Chip seal road work on Slater Road July 15, July 19-22

Slater Road is scheduled for chip seal work on July 15 from Lake Terrell Road to Imhof Road, and July 19-22 from Ferndale Road to the Ferndale city limits at the railroad crossing.

Drivers should expect long delays and the road may be temporarily closed in order to complete the work.

If closed, detour routes will be posted. Please use alternate routes whenever possible.

Washington Lottery announces new games

Washington’s Lottery today announced the launch of three new Scratch games worth more than $15 million in prizes combined. 

The new games debut July 19.

Players can soon visit their favorite lottery retailer to find the new games.

Two games, Red Hot Riches and Puzzle Payout, are $5 per ticket with a top prize of $50,000. The other, Cash on the Cob, is $1 per ticket with a top prize of $5,000.

Washington’s Lottery offers Scratch games priced between $1 and $30, each with varying prize amounts.

Once a player wins, they have 180 days from the drawing date to claim their prize for a draw game ticket.

If the player won with a Scratch ticket, they have 180 days from the last day of ticket sales to claim their prize. Scratchgame closing procedures will be initiated when all top prizes have been claimed.

Scratch game closing procedures may be initiated for documented business reasons. These games may have prizes unclaimed, including top prizes. 

More information is available at www.walottery.com/Responsibility.

In-person docent-led tours return to Whatcom Museum

After a year and a half of closures or limited in-person capacity due to COVID-19, the Whatcom Museum is excited to bring back in-person docent-led tours of the exhibitions in the Lightcatcher building. 

Beginning July 11, visitors can participate in an English or Spanish language tour of the exhibition, El Zodíaco Familiar or a tour of the exhibition Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest.

The Museum’s docents are a group of trained volunteers who work with the curator of art to gain insight into the themes, works and artists in an exhibition. They contribute many hours of their time to research and plan the focus and content of their individual tours.

Although the Museum is open at full capacity, safety measures are in place to limit group size and create an enjoyable but safe tour environment. Each tour can accommodate up to six people and pre-registration is strongly recommended. Walk-in visitors will be accommodated as space allows. The tours begin in the lobby of the Lightcatcher building, last 45 minutes to an hour and are free to members or included with admission for non-members.

The Museum’s docents are a group of trained volunteers who work with the curator of art to gain insight into the themes, works and artists in an exhibition. They contribute many hours of their time to research and plan the focus and content of their individual tours.

Although the Museum is open at full capacity, safety measures are in place to limit group size and create an enjoyable but safe tour environment. Each tour can accommodate up to six people and pre-registration is strongly recommended. Walk-in visitors will be accommodated as space allows. The tours begin in the lobby of the Lightcatcher building, last 45 minutes to an hour and are free to members or included with admission for non-members.

  

Job-readiness programs tailored for youth experiencing homelessness

Junior Achievement (JA) of Washington has partnered with YouthCare to provide work and career readiness curriculum tailored to the needs of youth experiencing homelessness.

With the support of a generous grant from Symetra Life Insurance Company, this collaboration allows YouthCare to significantly expand its employment training opportunities and increase financial stability for young people.

The Core Readiness Training Curriculum will break down barriers to employment and create economic mobility for young people through personal leadership and career discovery, as well as sector-based training opportunities and pre-apprenticeships.

Program offerings will be focused on high school completion, college access, financial literacy, and employment training.

YouthCare works to end youth homelessness and ensure that young people are valued for who they are and are empowered to achieve their potential.

JA’s work and career readiness programs will help young people experiencing homelessness develop socio-emotional, life, and employable skills to support in taking their first steps toward careers and sustainable wages. 

Young people will access the curriculum via YouthCare’s education and employment programs spanning the Greater Seattle area, from the University District to South Seattle. Training and content will include modules covering interviewing, resume-writing, financial literacy, teamwork, time management, problem-solving, and working through conflict.

Symetra identified an opportunity to connect the two organizations and is underwriting the initiative through a $105,000 multi-year grant to YouthCare, which will work with JA to develop and pilot the curriculum.

The curriculum pilot will launch in late summer of 2021 across YouthCare’s education and employment programs, including new job opportunities with the Seattle Kraken and the Climate Pledge Arena.

In this pilot stage, around 90 young people experiencing homelessness will access the curriculum. The focus during this time will be in assessing the curriculum in practice to ensure the programming is culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and youth-centric. 

For more information, visit jawashington.org.

Heat-related deaths in Washington state climb after historic heat wave

Resulting from the recent heat wave, the Department of Health reports a total of 78 likely heat-related deaths in Washington state. 

To compare, in 2020, there were seven heat-related deaths in Washington state from mid-June to the end of August. From 2015 to 2020, there were a total of 39 deaths during warmer months (May through September).

Extreme heat events (heat waves) are predicted to happen more often and last longer due to our changing climate. 

The majority of these deaths were in King and Pierce counties. The highest number of deaths occurred on June 29, with 33 reported deaths. Nineteen counties in total have reported heat-related deaths. More than 2,000 heat-related emergency department (ED) visits have been reported by hospitals that transmit data to the state between June 25-July 1.

Ninety-five percent of EDs transmit data to DOH. This data does not include Washington residents who sought care in Oregon or Idaho, or those who received care through the Veterans Administration or military.

These numbers are preliminary and are subject to change. Deaths are reported to the state by health care providers, medical examiners/coroners, local health departments, and others. For this reason, the statewide count of deaths often lags behind the counts of local health departments.

DOH is also waiting on a number of pending deaths to be given a cause of death. A near-final count for heat-related deaths will not be available for at least a month as the agency waits for the pending deaths to be reviewed and completed by local medical examiners and coroners.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Program awarded $28.6 billion

July 7, U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Guzman announces the closure of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) program. The program, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden, was part of the American Rescue Plan.

“The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund provided desperately needed relief to more than 100,000 restaurants and other food and beverage businesses across the nation with significant funding going to our hardest-hit, underserved businesses,” said SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman. “Restaurants are at the center of our neighborhoods and propel economic activity on Main Streets. As among the first to close in this pandemic and likely the last to reopen, many are still struggling to survive. The SBA will continue to work hard to ensure they get the resources they need to recover, rebuild and be resilient.”

As of June 30, the RRF program received more than 278,000 submitted eligible applications representing more than $72.2 billion in requested funds, and approximately 101,000 applicants have been approved to restaurants, bars and other restaurant-type businesses.

Amtrak to offer multi-powered modern trains

WASHINGTON – Amtrak is contracting with California-based Siemens Mobility Inc. to manufacture a new fleet of up to 83 multi-powered modern trains that will be leveraged for state and northeast services, with further options for up to 130 additional trains to support Amtrak growth plans.

The new fleet will offer modern rail amenities that better serve Amtrak customers. 

The new equipment will operate on the Northeast Corridor, long distance Palmetto and various state-supported routes that will replace Amtrak-owned Amfleet, Metroliner, and state-owned equipment on certain routes throughout the country. 

The $7.3 billion investment includes the purchase of equipment and a long-term parts supply and service agreement, facility modifications and upgrades, and other program expenses.

A long-term service agreement for technical support, spare parts and material supply will accompany the contract to manufacture the trains.

The new trains include remote monitoring and fully integrated digital diagnostics for increased reliability.

These advanced features will enable Amtrak to test and develop new technology and introduce new maintenance approaches to drive efficiency, increase availability and reduce long term costs.

The latest trains will feature more comfortable seating, individual power outlets and USB ports, onboard Wi-Fi, enhanced lighting and panoramic windows, larger vestibules, a more contemporary food service experience, including self-service options, as well as state-of-the-art customer trip information, digital seat reservation system and navigation display systems.

The trains were designed with the latest health and safety standards, including enhanced HVAC, touchless restroom controls, and automated steps. The trains meet all the latest safety regulations and standards, providing improved structural safety.

With expanded capacity and the ability to shorten trip time, Amtrak expects the new equipment to add over 1.5 million riders, annually.

These trains will also provide a substantial environmental benefit through reduced criteria pollutants compared to the existing fleet.

They will be designed with Amtrak’s new standard of enhanced accessible features, including inductive hearing loops, accessible restrooms and vestibules, an accessible Food Service car, and lifts for customers with reduced mobility, including wheelchair users.

Two arrested in Pierce County operation

As part of a collaborative multi-jurisdictional effort, two people were arrested June 29 for alleged crimes against children and human trafficking related crimes.

A Tukwila man that was arrested this past January in a similar operation in Pierce County was arrested again in Tacoma.

The latest arrest occurred when he arrived at a location where he arranged to meet and allegedly attempted to have sex with two children ages 10 and 12.

In the previous operation, he arrived at a location to allegedly have sex with a 13-year-old. This person had no criminal record before the first arrest in January.

The second arrest was for a subject that transported an 18-year-old-female to a location to allegedly be paid for sexual favors. He was charged with second-degree promoting prostitution. The female was not charged and was offered advocacy services before being released.

She was previously contacted in a similar situation two years ago when she was 16.

According to Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste,  WSP’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF) is “one way we can help protect children that are at risk of being victimized.”

MECTF’s primary mission is to proactively target those persons involved in child abuse and child exploitation via the internet.

The collaborative effort involving more than 20 dedicated law enforcement officers, agents and staff led to the success of this operation. Those agencies involved include Seattle and police departments, Washington State Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations.

Eastern Washington counties implement fire restrictions for public lands

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Spokane District will increase fire restrictions on public lands administered by the BLM and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) in eastern Washington.

The fire restrictions order has been modified to prohibit the building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, including charcoal briquette fires, even when contained within provided metal rings.

The temporary ban took effect on July 8 in the following counties: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, and Yakima.

The new restrictions are expected to be in effect until fire conditions change. The agency is encouraging target shooters to visit local private and public target range facilities during this time. 

In addition to prohibiting all campfires and target shooting, restrictions on the use of off-road vehicles, and smoking are also prohibited on public lands administered by the BLM and the BOR in eastern Washington.

The complete modified fire restriction order is attached to this release and can be found online at https://www.blm.gov/orwafire.

Federal awards for Sound Transit Light Rail projects

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, announced two new Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program awards, administered by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA), for Sound Transit’s Federal Way Extension and Lynwood Link Extension light rail projects.

The funding for the award comes from the American Rescue Plan.

The awards include $158 million for the Federal Way Link Extension project, and more than $94 million for the Lynnwood Link Extension project.

This funding will supplant part of the local share of funding for the projects that was required for the Full Funding Grant Agreements that Sound Transit had entered in to with the FTA for each project, saving local taxpayers millions.

With many transit agencies struggling during the pandemic, Senator Murray fought to include funding specifically to help alleviate local match requirements for transit projects with Full Funding Grant Agreements in the American Rescue Plan.

The CIG program is a discretionary funding program for the construction and expansion of new and existing fixed-guideway public transit systems such as heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, streetcars, ferries, and certain corridor-based bus systems.

Agencies applying to the CIG program work closely with the FTA through rigorous project development and engineering phases, after which the FTA decides whether to give the project a grant agreement and the corresponding federal dollars.

In 2020 and 2018 respectively, Sound Transit and FTA entered into Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA) for the Federal Way Link Extension and Lynnwood Link Extension projects. These agreements include federal commitments to help fund these projects along with a local funding match. The grants announced today will go directly to Sound Transit to continue work on these projects and come in addition to previously committed federal funding for the project, saving Sound Transit a combined more than $252 million they originally would have had to spend on the projects.  

Sound Transit’s Federal Way Link Extension Project will receive a grant for $158,583,550 in American Rescue Plan CIG funding to supplant part of the local share in the FFGA that Sound Transit originally agreed to pay for the project.

The project is a 7.8-mile light rail transit (LRT) line that will extend from the existing Angle Lake Station to the Federal Way Transit Center in south King County.

FTA entered into a FFGA with Sound Transit for the project in in January 2020.

Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link Extension project will receive a  grant for $94,047,724 in American Rescue Plan CIG funding to supplant part of the local share in the FFGA that Sound Transit originally agreed to pay for the project.

The project is an 8.5-mile extension to the light rail system from the Northgate station in King County to the Lynnwood City Center Station in Snohomish County. FTA and Sound Transit entered into a FFGA for the project in December 2018.

New projects launched for Lorenzan, Fish creeks

Construction of two fish passage projects along State Route 20 gets underway soon in Concrete.

One project at Lorenzan Creek begins later this month and another at Fish Creek starts in September.

Contractor crews from Bellingham-based Strider Construction, working for the Washington State Department of Transportation, will install two new concrete fish-passable culverts.

The existing culvert at Lorenzan Creek will be replaced with a new three-sided, bottomless fish structure that is 16 feet wide by 48 feet long.

The existing culvert at Fish Creek will be replaced with a new four-sided box structure that is 19 feet wide and 44 feet long that will allow fish to pass underneath SR 20. 

What can travelers expect:

As crews work in the area along SR 20 near Dalles Road they will temporarily occupy the Cascade Trail and reroute SR 20 traffic around the construction work zone for up to three weeks. During construction, approximately four-tenths of a mile of the trail will be closed to the public to ensure safe travel in and around the construction area. Bicycles and pedestrians will use a two-thirds of a mile detour along town streets and sidewalks. 

Additionally, travelers along SR 20 between the area of North Superior Avenue and E Avenue should expect single-lane alternating traffic with a flagger or a temporary signal seven days a week, 24 hours per day during construction. 

Lasting improvements:

Once construction at Lorenzan Creek and Fish Creek is complete, the temporary paved area on the Cascade Trail will remain for the benefit of future trail users, making it easier for bicyclists, pedestrians and other non-motorized equipment to utilize this area.

State highways cross streams and rivers in thousands of places in Washington state, which can impede fish passage.

WSDOT has worked for nearly three decades to improve fish passage and reconnect streams to help keep the state’s waterways healthy.