Ski to Sea returns Memorial Day weekend
Race passes through downtown EversonBy Elisa Claassen For the Tribune
WHATCOM COUNTY — The creme-de-la-creme athletic event of Whatcom County is coming soon.
Ski to Sea is a 93-mile course across snow and water and other surfaces, with biking and running along cliffs, as many as 600 volunteers, and as many as 500 teams.
Ski to Sea racing is something so incredible as it involves massive volunteers available for multiple dates, public officials, closure of roadways and many emergency teams on standby. The annual race returns on Sunday, May 28 for its 50th year of the modern race as we know it today – with a few tweaks and changes along the way and a halt for COVID-19.
According to the organizer’s website’s history page, the race was first run in 1973 as today starting at Mt. Baker and ending in Bellingham Bay. The team needs those able to take one, or now more legs: cross country ski, downhill ski or snowboard, run, road bike, canoe (two paddlers), cyclocross bike, and sea kayak. The last leg had once been sailing.
Originally the region had Mount Baker Marathons 100 years ago which has incited books and movies as this race wasn’t especially noted for safety. When it reappeared in 1973, the race was 35 miles and had three legs. A baton
WCFD celebrates moms in the fire serviceBy Rachel Carlson
Rachel Carlson is chief of Whatcom County Fire District No. 1, which serves Everson, Nooksack, Deming and the Nooksack Indian Tribe.
WHATCOM — The fire service has been a second family to my children and me for the past 11 years and I remain grateful for the fantastic people with whom we are privileged to work.
This Mother’s Day, Whatcom County Fire District wants to express our thanks to the moms who bring passion and dedication to the fire service in Whatcom County.
Thank you, moms, for all you do in dispatch, our administration offices, our peer support
groups, and all the moms who respond to our communities’ calls for service.
Motherhood prepared me for this challenging career in fire and EMS with South Whatcom Fire Authority.
It’s an honour and a privilege to provide comfort and care to those in need in my community.
The reward is knowing you helped someone through their hardest moments.
Hello, I’m Justina Bass. I’ve been a volunteer EMT/FF with Whatcom County Fire District No. 16 for 11 Years.
I have three grown sons, two
Brittney Nick: I feel like a mother’s touch in EMS is such a valuable tool. I love caretaking for my patients so much that I am continuing my education and am on the path to becoming a paramedic.
of which are also volunteers with District No. 16 along with my husband.
I also have two daughters-inlaw and three grandchildren.
I started volunteering when my oldest son was a sophomore in high school, in 2014 he became a student volunteer and then in 2017 my youngest son and husband became volunteers.
I became a volunteer after talking to some other women who were also volunteers on other departments in Whatcom County.
I have always had an interest in emergency medicine, and it seemed like a good way to help in my local community.
Since that time my passion for Fire and EMS has grown personally and professionally.
I recently left my previous job and now am a part-time employee for the district.
I love being able to be out
helping and teaching in my community and setting an example for other women to follow their interests because you never know where they may lead you.Renee Brennan
Being a fire/EMS dispatcher for Whatcom County gives me the opportunity to be a servant to those in my community while providing a deep amount of satisfaction and personal fulfillment in my life.
Not only do the tasks of this position challenge me, but my ability to empathize, encourage and come alongside others in need, develops more each day.
I am thankful for an amazing community of First Responders and hope to be working with them for many years to come.Kim Cook
My name is Kim Cook, and I have served as a volunteer at
District 16 in the Acme Valley for 27 years. My father started as a volunteer and served 35 years on the department, which inspired me to volunteer shortly after graduating high school.
I earned my EMT certification in 1998 and graduated with a fire science degree from Skagit Valley College in 1999. I have served in many roles at District 16, but I am current working as a Division Chief in EMS.
During my time as a volunteer, my husband and I raised four daughters, two of which who are currently following in the family tradition of volunteer firefighting.
I feel so fulfilled by helping those in need, and I am proud that I have been an inspiration to my daughters.Lisa DeKoster
Firefighting has been in my family since I was 5 years old,
so you could say that it’s in my blood. For years I’ve watched my dad and uncles help others and I knew that I wanted to do that one day also. I love being able to lend a hand to others or be there to comfort and help those in need. Lisa DeKoster is with Whatcom County Fire District No. 14.
My name is Kassie Harkness, I am 35 years young, and I am a volunteer firefighter for Whatcom County Fire District No. 16.
My uncle was a career firefighter/medic for the city of Marysville and as a little girl I had dreams of following in his footsteps. Life had different plans for me though.
I met my husband when I was 16, got married and had our first daughter when I was 22. We now have three beautiful girls, ages 13, 10 and 6. When my youngest was 1, I decided it was time to get back to my calling. I love helping people and what better way to give back to your community than to be there when they need you the most.
So I joined the fire department here in Acme and decided to further my education and became an EMT. I am now a lieutenant and recently joined the EMS council.
As a mother of very busy, active kids and a secretary of my husband’s company I am asked why I do what I do. Here is the reason, aside from being my kids mother as a purpose in life this gives me purpose in life.
Working as a fire/EMS dispatcher has been an incredible blessing. I have the privilege of being a lifeline for those in need. I enjoy working in a team environment with co-workers that feel like family while providing a fulfilling service to our communities and first responders.
I feel blessed my children have been brought up around so many first responders including myself, my husband, as well as countless family and friends. I am so appreciative of this opportunity I have been given to serve a community we care so much about, that we also call home.
Kassie Harkness: My uncle was a career firefighter/medic for the city of Marysville and as a little girl I had dreams of following in his footsteps. Life had different plans for me though.
From a young age, I was always a caretaker. From being the oldest child of a single mom of three, to team captain in high school sports to my various friend groups over the years. I always knew I wanted to be a mom and luckily, I got the opportunity to marry my high school sweetheart and make that a reality.
I now have two beautiful children, 12-year-old Jaeger and 13-year-old Taylor,
Amy Anderson: Motherhood prepared me for this challenging career in fire and EMS with South Whatcom Fire Authority. It’s an honour and a privilege to provide comfort and care to those in need in my community.
and that urge to caretake them and beyond hasn’t gone away. It feels more important now than ever now that I know the impact that a mother can have on kids.
Once my kids were older, I was on the path to becoming a nurse, but a family tragedy lead me down the path of being a firefighter/EMT with South Whatcom Fire Authority and I know it’s what I was put here on this earth for.
I feel like I have a mother’s touch when it come to my patients. On their worst day, I am my patients safe place and their personal caretaker during an emergency.
Calling 911 is rarely done on a good day. I have been known to tell my patients that while they are in my care, they are a part of my family. I will treat them with the care and love that I treat my own children.
I have held my patients’ hands to warm them, absorbed tears into my uniform top through a hug, snuggled patients into blankets, and played Batman with kids
while their mom was being evaluated.
I feel like a mother’s touch in EMS is such a valuable tool. I love caretaking for my patients so much that I am continuing my education and am on the path to becoming a paramedic.
Why I serve is about my patients. When you are experiencing an emergency, who would you rather have on scene comforting you than your mom, even if it’s a borrowed one?
I am humbled and honored to serve my community and be that loving, warm hand on potentially their worst day. Thank you.
John Wesley once said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, as long as ever you can.” Heather RipkeOlson is with Whatcom County Fire District No. 14.
Everson Nooksack Valley Farmers Market
The E N Valley Farmers Market started its second summer season on May 7 and will continue on Sundays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. through Oct. 15. Organizer Jesse Johnson has contacted artisans, crafters, musicians, and small farmers to participate during the season. Johnson explained that vendors vary from week to week. “We will have produce from Flynn Farms all season through our wholesale partnership. Cookies with Court will be there most the season as well and Sunset Farm, my own farm. Artist-type vendors are coming too, but will be different each week.” The Everson Nooksack Valley Farmers Market will have food trucks and music throughout the season when available, Johnson also said. Updates are given on the market’s Facebook page. Inquiries can be made to Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional signage was sponsored to enhance the market this year, Johnson said. (Elisa Claassen for the Tribune)
Get ready for the Everson Summer Festival
Demolishing Everson MeadowsBy Elisa Claassen For the Tribune
EVERSON — Vacant since severe flooding crippled the Nooksack Valley 18 months ago, Everson Meadows, at 310 Everson Road, is in the process of being demolished. This is to the chagrin of Everson Mayor John Perry.
Perry said the decision to demolish the housing was made solely by the Bellingham Housing Authority. “This decision came shortly following the November 2021 floods and the timing couldn’t have been worse. We were already facing a severe shortage in available housing units due to the damage to 700 plus homes between Everson, Nooksack, and Sumas.”
Formerly 24 units of Section 514/516 Farm Labor Housing, Everson Meadows offered low-income housing for agricultural workers.
A look at Zillow showed the 3.003 acre property for sale at $1,035,000, with sale pending as of May 10. According to Zillow, the property is partially paved, zoned for multiple residential use.
According to Whatcom County Assessor’s records, the housing was built in 1989 and owned legally by Whatcom County Housing Authority. The property was comprised of 12 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units, as well as parking and a play area. Two of the apartments were ADA compliant.
In 1989, the Authority secured a United State Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (USDA-RD) grant to build the complex. Eligible applicants generally pay monthly rent of no more than 30% AMI (Area Median Income).
In a Sept. 23, 2022 account for NBC News online, correspondent Evan Bush said one resident, Vianney Cruz had received a notice she needed to vacate her place in the Everson Meadows apartment complex. She was working with caseworkers with the Whatcom Long-Term Recovery Group at the time.
The Authority told NBC it couldn’t justify renovating the apartments, in part, “because of climate change and flood risk.” Bellingham & Whatcom County Housing Authorities staff did not respond to Lynden Tribune requests for comments but an online account of a June 13, 2022 meeting outlined the decision made by the Authority to demolish and to move inhabitants to new
That report was titled Relocation plan for Everson Meadows. According to this report, some of the units had no rental assistance. Those residents paid the established contract note rent for the property.
Perry said he was aware of the rehousing efforts.
“I know the Housing Authority offered them placement in some of their other facilities,” he said. “But the locations, Bellingham and Blaine, did not work for most families that had established roots here in Everson.”
Perry also said he was not sure how many of the families were able to stay in the Nooksack Valley School District.
“The USDA-RD program severely constrained extremely limited resources to maintain the property, resulting in significant deferred maintenance,” the report stated. “Everson Meadows paid off the loan on May 18, 2022, exiting the USDA-RD portfolio. As part of the program exit, the property no longer received rental assistance.”
In April 2021, WCHA completed a capital needs assessment which identified immediate and significant rehab needs that totaled approximately $5 million. The report outlined attempts to get funding but also stated the roofs and exteriors were at “considerable risk” in winter weather.
Elevating the structures above flood levels was not feasible. Following the report, and meeting, staff contacted each household and completed an assessment survey prior to the relocation performed before Oct. 31, 2022.
The Authority staff recommended relocating the households on site and preparing the site for sale. The report stated that proceeds from the sale “will be used to acquire or develop new, more financially sustainable and climate resilient housing opportunities for low-income residents within Whatcom County.”
Perry, who is also a building contractor and whose wife is involved in real estate, said he had wished for a different outcome.
“I’m disappointed in the Bellingham Housing Authority’s management of the facility and their decision to tear it down,” Perry said. “The units were built a little over 30 years ago and should have had many years of life left in them. Routine maintenance of the facility and some needed capital repairs could have brought the units back to a habitable standard at a fraction of the cost of building 24 new units at today’s cost.”
Perry also said he “found it ironic that the moment the USDA grant program expired, the units were deemed unsafe for residents.”
“Fortunately, two local developers are purchasing the property and plan to rebuild the units after the demolition is complete,” Perry said.
When asked about the new housing development approved by Everson City Council behind Everson Meadows in areas that had flooded, Perry said, “The housing development behind Everson Meadows is being built to our current standards of flood plain development. This includes elevating the first floor to a minimum of one foot above the 100 year Base Flood Elevation.”
Garden club holds plant sale
Everson Garden Club’s annual plant sale attracted a line stretching through the Everson Elementary School parking lot before opening on Saturday, April 29. Sales were brisk for the long time club which uses the profits for club activities and to help the community. (Elisa Claassen for the Tribune)
Ski to Sea: Annual event returns on May 28
Continued from C1 had been passed along. Later necklace medallions and now the wristband.
Unlike other events, this one is difficult to view in entirety and those wishing to catch a glimpse may want to pick a location at the mountain, Glacier, Maple Falls, Kendall, Everson, Lynden, Ferndale, or the big party in Bellingham’s Fairhaven district since the last teammate will cross the line and ring a bell near the water. Many vendors line the streets in the Fairhaven shopping district including food and music.
Within Everson, Police Chief Dan MacPhee said his police department and the city’s public works employees assist with the race in terms of traffic control.
“As the road bikes enter the Everson and Nooksack area from South Pass Road, with the assistance of certified flaggers – provided by Ski to Sea – we assist with traffic control at intersections as they move west through town,”
MacPhee said. “A bike lane is also created with cones along the west bound shoulder of Main Street. As they enter Park Drive from West Main Street, they hand off to the canoe leg near Riverside Park.”
For anyone who wants to participate in the race, there are divisions for amateurs and professionals. The website outlines the difficulty of each leg and how to best prepare, keeping in mind safety and weather and terrain conditions. According to race rules, the main difference between competitive and recreational divisions is team time and equipment. The faster teams usually finish in six to seven hours.
Packets are picked up in advance with a team timing chip – to be passed from member to member on a wristband–racing bibs, and t-shirts. Organizes encourage preparation for any weather, having extra dry clothes to change into, attendance of pre-race meetings.
The race is owned and operated by Whatcom Events, a volunteer-operated
community 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization which also hosts a kids’ version of the race earlier in the month, the Tour de Whatcom bicycle ride in July, the Mt. Baker Hill Climb in September, and Trails to Taps Relay in October.
While the staff is composed of only three employees, the race’s board of directors, and a race committee of more than 30 members are all volunteers.
Volunteers clear the racecourse on Saturday, May 20 and then can take assignments at the different hand-off points on race day,
“Each year, we hope our volunteer efforts and the generosity of our sponsors results in net profits that we can donate to local 501(c)(3) charitable beneficiaries.”
Some of the groups benefiting financially from the race include many food banks, fire districts, school groups, scouting troops, and groups dedicated to athletic pursuits.
Visit skitosea.com for more information, including how to register.