Birch Bay Discovery Days

 Birch Bay Issues, Food, Fun  Comments Off on Birch Bay Discovery Days
Aug 222015

Great new addition to the Birch Bay Discovery Days events–a Crab Derby and Fest. Challenge the crab you caught against others and eat a bunch, too. See for more details.

Birch Bay-Blaine-Lummi Island Candidates Forum

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Oct 022014

You are Invited

Birch Bay-Blaine-Lummi Island Candidates Forum

Thursday, October 9, 2014 – 7 PM

at the

Birch Bay Bible Community Church

at 4460 Bay Road, the NE corner of Blaine (SR548) and Bay Roads.

Seth for Blog sm

Seth Fleetwood, State Senate Candidate (D)

All six candidates for State Senator, State Representative Pos. 1 and State Representative Pos. 2 have RSVP’d to attend.

Citizen-organized and sponsored by The Northern Light newspaper, Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, Birch Bay Waterslides, the Friends of Birch Bay State Park and ….. to educate and inform the combined community populations of 14,000 Whatcom County citizens.


-Kathy Berg, Terry Terry, Pat Jerns and Louise Mugar

Engagement Guidelines

For the audience

Satpal Pic Seattle 3

Satpal Sidhu, Position 1, State Representative Candidate (D)

  • The public may submit questions for the candidates of the 42nd Legislative District of WA to or call 360-371-0171.  Cards and pens will be handed out at the auditorium door for writing questions of the candidates.  There will be no “open mike.”
  • 6:30 to 7 PM – Meet and greet opportunity for audience, candidates and sponsors in the lobby.
  • 7 PM – Forum will start promptly.

Joy Monjure, Position 2, State Representative Candidate (D)

For the candidates

  • Each candidate may have a table in the lobby from which to disseminate their message.  Arrive at the church by 6:30 PM to set up.  Please, NO Yard signs in the lobby, auditorium nor on the grounds of the church.
  • Each candidate may have a 2-minute opening statement.
  • Predetermined questions will have no more than 1 1/2-minutes to answer.
  • There will be 30-seconds for rebuttal from the opponent.
  • Questions submitted by the audience on note cards that have been sorted and organized by topic will have no more than 1 1/2-minutes to answer and 30-seconds for rebuttal.
  • Each candidate will have 2-minutes for a closing statement.


  • Each sponsor may have a table in the lobby from which to disseminate their message.  Contact Jeff Carrington, 360-220-3224 to make arrangements.

[ed. The event is non-partisan; this blog is partisan.]

A Discussion with Carl Weimer, County Council Chairman

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Apr 112014

How to get BIG money out of politics

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Mar 082014

Whatcom Progressive Forum

(formerly known as Tipple & Talk)

Get Big Money Out of Politics:

What you can do–Join us!

Bay Horizon Park Conference Room

7506 Gemini Road,

off Alderson Road, Birch Bay

Monday, March 10, 2014

7 to 9 pm

Facilitated by Ronna Loerch

Beverages and light snacks offered

To RSVP or for more information, call 371-5312

Holiday Season Summary

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Jan 192014
Thanksgiving - Flags at Lodge

Art installation at Thanksgiving Lodge


We had a new experience for Thanksgiving 2013, traveling to eastern Washington with our friends Roger and Naomi Murphy to join their group of extended family and friends. The Methow Valley log lodge and bunkhouse accommodated 16 adults and nine children (including a ten-week old baby) comfortably.




Ryder, Mackenzie and Geord mugging at the Brazilian steakhouse

 We spent Christmas in Ohio with Ruth’s son, Geord, his wife Mary, their son Ryder and daughter Mackenzie, and Mary’s father. We flew Allegiant Air from Bellingham to Las Vegas, as explained in the previous post.  Taking Southwest Airlines to Columbus got us in late on the 23rd. The tree was already up and glowing, thanks to Mackenzie’s pleas. The custom had been to get the tree and decorate it Christmas Eve, but she wanted to enjoy it for a few days prior; such a wise young woman.

After a fine, food-filled visit including another new experience at a Brazilian steakhouse, we made our Southwest-Allegiant Las Vegas connection smoothly and were home the same day we departed Ohio.


New Year’s Eve in Birch Bay is marked by the Ring of Hope and Fire when people place flares, lights, and added this year–Chinese Lanterns. We had thought the latter were a great idea after seeing them last July 4th. However, after finding the remnant of one, our concerns for marine life hazard dampened our enthusiasm.

New Year’s Day 2014 Broom Hockey players

New Year’s Day celebrated the 32nd Annual Polar Bear Plunge, followed byBroom Hockey Scoreboard scaled the 2nd Annual International Broom Hockey Tournament in the Birch Bay WaterSlides parking lot. A lot of hilarity, some skill, and a VERY lopsided victory for the Canadians!  

We wish everyone a happy, healthy, vigorous 2014!

Holiday Greetings

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Dec 162013

Birdhouse in Snow - Reduced sm

Last year we were celebrating the President’s re-election and the victory of our candidate, Suzan DelBene, in a new 1st Congressional district. This year we are celebrating the victory of four progressive candidates to take back control of the Whatcom County Council.

Last year most of our effort was with an OFA (Organizing for America) state campaign; this year our work was with Whatcom County Democrats, participating in Outreach Committee activities by marching in parades and staffing booths.

Our team on parade sm.

 We also worked for voter approval of a levy to support the Northwest Park & Rec that had failed in two previous elections. This was partly the result of a well organized campaign and, more importantly,  programs that involved many participants in Zumba, basketball, yoga, and pickleball.

Ruth, new as a precinct committee officer, worked to find and organize other PCOs and interested progressives with a series of  “Tipple & Talk” events in our community. But Birch Bay failed to provide the winning votes. Progressives won in Bellingham, the liberal center, while losing in the smaller cities and rural areas of the county.

In February we enjoyed a winter vacation to the Pacific Coast of Mexico starting with Puerto Vallarta, which we had visited before.

Mermaid on Sea Horse sm

 Beach Scene sm

After a week there we went to a small, less-developed town up the coast, Sayulita. 



We settled into our beach-front bungalow and explored the town, then Ruth went swimming. Al, standing on the beach, admired how much she enjoyed the water, alternating swimming breast-strokes and back-strokes, but wondered why she was drifting further out. Then he saw a life guard rushing into the water and pulling her out. She was tended for her near-drowning by a vacationing Friday Harbor EMT. She continues to experience some post-traumatic anxiety, unable to enjoy high waves in Birch Bay, but is otherwise well and thankful.

Other trips included a short visit to San Francisco to celebrate Ruth’s birthday in March and to Tofino, B.C. to celebrate Al’s in April. Ruth ferried to Vancouver Island to visit her sister and bro-in-law and flew off to Ohio for a few days in August to check in with her son Geord, his wife Mary, and son Ryder (experiencing a Gap Year after his freshman stint at Columbia College in Chicago). Daughter Mackenzie (currently managing at the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland), was unable to join us.

During the summer wKite Makers sme worked as cadre in Chamber of Commerce events that included Sandcastle & Sculpture Contest, the Discovery Days parade and Ducky Derby Race. This year Ruth proposed a new event, a kite flying festival that was combined with skim boarding.  Heidi Holmes of Park and Rec found a father and son who taught kite building to 40 young people who went out on the beach and flew their custom-built kites. Gail Walker of Paddle and Pedal organized paddle boarding and beach games for what became the 1st International Sea and Sky Festival of Birch Bay.

One of the benefits of the Pacific Northwest is the abundant seafood. When we lived in California and again after we moved to Washington, we invested in CSAs, Community Supported Agriculture that provide weekly baskets of vegetables in return for money provided a the start of the season. This year we invested in a Community Supported Aquaculture program, the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm.

 Baby Oysters at CSA farm sm

 For $100 we get 13 oysters a week for 13 weeks ( While the oyster beds in Drayton Harbor have existed for 40 years, Steve Seymour, a retired state wildlife employee, is expanding operations with the help of instructors and students at the Bellingham Technical College.Living Room Scene with Kids sm

This year we were invited to a special Thanksgiving with two extended families — 16 adults, 8 kids and a 10-week old baby. Location, log  lodge located in mountains above the Methow Valley, east of Winthrop.

Tuna Canning, best sm

Tuna canning has become a tradition after Thanksgiving. A veteran fisherman, Jeremy Brown, obtains a large amount of tuna — this year some 2,300 pounds — that he cuts into rounds suitable for trimming and canning. Al is a trimmer, Ruth fills jars. This year we worked four-hour shifts which entitled us to buy a case each, 12 containers for $60. We ration during the year for the very best salads.


A big adBat House smdition to our home this year was a bat house, the gift of Sylvia Douglas. Bat houses need to be at least 15 feet off the ground, which  we achieved with a long piece of PVC pipe. Despite our lack of engineering skills we were able to mount the house. In sSquirrel at Bird Feeder smtrong winds it  waves back and forth, but has stayed up. We have yet to see any sign of bats, but a squirrel did raid our bird feeder. 


We wish you all the best for this Season and a GREAT 2014.

                         – Al & Ruth

Genuine Sweep

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Nov 102013

Election results for us this year were as satisfying as any we’ve experienced in Birch Bay, including those in 2008 and 2012 when we campaigned for Obama. In 2012 our work was recognized by having our photo taken with the President.

The big win fBroom for changeor Birch Bay was approval of the Park & Rec levy that failed by only a few votes twice before. This time the required 60 percent of voters was exceeded by more than eight percent. All but two of the 15 precincts in the Blaine School District (minus Point Roberts) voted yes.

The best performance was in Birch Bay Precinct 108 the approval count was 73.2 percent. Adjacent to Bay Horizon Park where the Activity Center is located, had 571 votes. Ruth Higgins, the PCO in 108, estimates that 90 percent of the houses were visited by dedicated canvassers, particularly in the Bay Crest developments. (Remarkable is the reality that some 50 percent of those registered failed to vote.)

Significantly, the Park & Rec campaign was led by Doralee Booth and Kathy Berg, remaining members of the dormant Steering/Implementation Committee. With Booth leading the way, they demonstrated skills in organization and execution that portends a different future for Birch Bay.

For us personally, an even more important sweep was the victory of the slate of four progressive candidates for Whatcom County Council. Rud Brown, Barry Buchanan, Ken Mann, and Carl Weimer all finished well ahead of the 50 percent required. But in the 15 local precincts the progressive slate gained no more than five.  During the campaign we got to know all four of these candidates, which motivated us to work diligently on their behalf.

If any reader can tell us why people would vote for Bill Knutzen over Rud Brown, we would welcome their explanation.




Vote This Week

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Oct 212013

Here’s Our Slate:

For County Council: Rud Brown, Barry Buchanan, Ken Mann & Carl Weimer.

Four Amigos Signs.


For Port Commission: Mike McAuley & Renata Kowalczyk.

 Renata & Mike Signs



We have met and talked with all six of these progressive candidates and have been campaigning for them most of the summer and fall. Ruth makes a lot of phone calls to voters in her precinct 108 – she is the PCO – and from a phone bank at the combined campaign in the Herald Building in Bellingham. As part of the Dems Outreach Committee, she is participating in special events at the Lummi Nation and Sikh Temple.


Al has made phone calls in campaigns but he would rather knock on doors. He enjoys the here-and-now experience of standing in front of a door wondering who will appear. Most often he is challenged on “progressive.” He says his candidates are intelligent and open minded. (As opposed to the regressives who seem to blindly follow the whims of supporters who have particular objectives such as protecting personal land rights that are contrary to the state’s growth management act.)


The most questions are about COAL. The view that county council candidates should express neutrality because they are likely to be in a judicial role was shattered when the coal industry contributed to the regressives and conservation interests contributed to the progressives. I am sympathetic to the view of older men who see the coal port as generating the kind of jobs for which they are prepared. (Unhappily those are “20th Century Jobs; the future of Whatcom County is in the 21st Century.)


The regressives have latched on to this issue and are advertising they are “job creators.” But at the Candidates Forum held in Birch Bay last week they presented little evidence they have experience in creating jobs.  Kathy Kershner was a Naval officer and a consultant. Ben Elenbaas has worked at BP since he finished college. As a farmer who raises beef and pork, his wife is his main employee. Michelle Luke operated a beauty salon. Bill Knutzen runs a small business that repairs computers and cellular phones.


In contrast, Rud Brown founded and operated a computer recycling business that created 360 jobs in five countries, 140 in Whatcom County. Carl Weimer made ReSources what it is today, employing more than 60 people. Ken Mann renovates commercial and residential buildings generating opportunities for employment in the renovated businesses as well as construction jobs. Barry Buchanan operates a firm that trains people for technology jobs.

Park & Rec Sign

Finally, a very important cause is the levy to support the Park & Rec District. This ballot measure that needs 60 percent of the vote and lost twice by only 150 votes asks for only 10 cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. For a home appraised at $250,000 that would be only $25 dollars per year. You’d think people would see what a bargain that is. But you’d be surprised. One woman snarled at Al, “Nobody wants higher taxes.”


Walking home from that experience, he found a bumper strip “Why do people with closed minds always open their mouths?”


Nonetheless, campaigning is worth the effort – the days after Nov. 5 will be exciting

Addendum October 27: Our picks for NWPRD2 Commissioner are Katy Montfort, for re-election to Position 4, who has worked tirelessly for the park activities and Sheli Moore, a candidate for Position 2, who has turned out for almost every event since filing for the position.  

Northwest Park & Recreation District 2: Vote YES!

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Sep 242013

BB P&R Doralee with signDoralee Booth (shown) and Kathy Berg kicked off a work-party at the Activity Center on Gemini Street on Monday, September 23, 2013. They represent the Northwest Park & Recreation District 2’s ballot issue requesting approval of a levy for the support of the District’s many programs and activities. The modest 10 cents per $1000 property evaluation (that’s $1.66 a month for a $200,00 home) over the next four years will enable the existing board and staff to continue serving the residents within their boundaries. District 2’s boundaries parallel the Blaine School District, except for Point Roberts that has its own Park & Recreation District.

See more details on the District’s Web site and their Facebook page Northwest Park & Recreation District 2.

This critical issue in on the ballot this Fall–and those ballots will be mailed to your home on October 15. Please open your ballot upon receipt, vote Yes for Parks & Recreation, complete your other choices of candidates and issues, and return your ballot immediately, by mail or drop-off box. Drop-off boxes are available at Blaine library and the County Courthouse in Bellingham.

Voting Yes! on this issue is in your best interest.


What Would You Like to Have in a New Birch Bay Park?

 Birch Bay Issues  Comments Off on What Would You Like to Have in a New Birch Bay Park?
Sep 172013

Last month proponents for buying a vacant four acres with 400 feet of beach front, on Birch Bay Drive just north of CJ’s BeachHouse. circulated a petition asking Whatcom County to appropriate $10,000 for an appraisal of the property to establish an estimated purchase price. But the proponents specified no content or uses of the park. So we’ve been asking people – pillars of the community as well as visitors – what they would like.

Everyone we asked said flush toilets. After that the answers varied. Following is a list. (We’ve not included some such as “carnival rides” and “a dock to jump off into the water” – which isn’t deep enough.) Send your choices and your comments to


( ) Bathhouse/showers                                              ( ) Kids play set

( ) Wall of bathhouse painted                                    ( ) Small amphitheater

        white to project movies

( ) Picnic tables                                                         ( ) Covered pavilion to protect

                                                                                       picnickers from sun

( ) Softball/soccer field                                               ( ) Tennis courts

( ) Running/walking track                                           ( ) Skateboard Park

( ) Hard surface for                                                     ( ) Shed above beach to hold

      basketball, etc.                                                            equipment like paddle/skim boards 

( ) Dog park for pets off leash                                    ( ) Second park, one for small dogs

( ) Parking lot                                                             ( ) Food concession(s)

Your additions:

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Your comments: