Whatcom County is having its first District Court judge race in almost 20 years. Candidates for these positions typically run unopposed – incumbent Angela Anderson will be taking the first open District Court position on the 2022 Midterm ballot. Yet for the second position, two legal buffs are vying for the seat.
Hazard pay will be ending on Oct. 31 for grocery workers in Bellingham. The $4 pay increase was tied to Bellingham’s COVID-19 Proclamation of Local Emergency that was originally put into place on March 10, 2020. Gov. Inslee announced on Sept. 8 that all remaining emergency orders for the state will come to an end by Oct. 31.
This fall has been surprisingly warm with little rainfall, and although some might assume this is due to climate change, there is no trend to suggest this is the primary cause. These October days that have reached the mid-70s are likely just a weather fluke.
Air quality in Bellingham has reached an “unhealthy” level due to ongoing wildfires in the northwest region. The Air Quality Index (AQI), which measures hazardous particulates in the air, reached 153 on Tuesday afternoon in Bellingham. Any AQI over 150 is designated to be unhealthy for everyone, especially people with lung, heart and respiratory diseases, people younger than 18 and over the age of 65 and outdoor workers. Elsewhere in Whatcom County, the numbers are even more unsafe — in Maple Falls, the AQI has reached a “very unhealthy” level of 203.
On a warm Thursday night in October, runners pack the gravel parking lot of the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, ready for a workout. Their post-run destination? Kulshan Brewery on Kentucky Street. BBay Running, a running and walking shoe store in downtown Bellingham, organizes group “pub runs” every Thursday, where a group of roughly 30 local residents takes off for a long run. Aftward, they head to a local Bellingham pub to celebrate their accomplishment and socialize.
With Bellingham's beloved music scene back in full swing, musicians and fans are looking for more ways to get involved. “I think it's more vibrant than ever,” said Patrick Roulete, department chair of the Western Washington University music department.
Western Washington University's Outback Farm has worked with the Xerces Society to officially become a bee campus, allowing the farm to protect and keep these endangered insects in the campus's backyard. “Becoming a bee-certified campus from the Xerces Society means that we are taking steps, collaboratively across campus to protect pollinators,” said Terri Kempton, firm manager of Outback Farm and teaching professor at Fairhaven College. “One is that we have an apiary, and we are giving students a chance to get involved with our most delicious animal partnership because we get to harvest their honey.”
Jodi Newcomer, Whatcom Hospice program manager, has dreamt of creating a “Before I Die” project for years. And thanks to a recent string of serendipitous events, along with the help of co-worker Amie Carr, Whatcom Hospice volunteer coordinator, Newcomer has been able to make her dream a reality. The seed that was planted at a conference in Chelan, Washington five years ago, with place cards asking attendees to fill in their bucket list items, has now blossomed into an interactive art mural in downtown Bellingham.
Last month, Ferndale saw the opening of its first Asian grocery store, Ferndale Asian Grocer. The same month, Bellingham welcomed two new Asian-inspired cafes - Mochinut and Happy Lemon. Mochinut is an American-based chain of donut shops, specializing in mochi donuts, a treat that combines American doughnuts and mochi, a traditional Japanese rice cake. Happy Lemon, a beverage chain founded by a Taiwan-based company, specializes in bubble tea and bubble waffles, waffles with spheres full of extra batter baked into them. The Ferndale Asian Grocer’s interior is home to rows of shelves that hold food and products belonging to a wide range of countries, even including non-Asian countries.
After a month-long closure, The Upfront Theatre will continue improv shows at its location on Prospect Street, despite the closure of the Sylvia Center, which previously owned the space. This change will allow The Upfront Theatre to take more ownership of the space, said Upfront general manager Gillian Myers.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, Western Washington University's lakefront recreational facility, Lakewood, held its first seasonal kick-off event. The event featured various free activities on the water to help first-time visitors get excited about Lakewood. Lakewood Manager Nino Johnson said he believes Lakewood should be accessible and open to new students. He wants to get people in the water, whether they have prior experience or not.
A blue house with white trim appears unassuming from the outside. Propped up on the steps is a hand-painted sign reading “Bluebird House.” A faint thumping can be heard from the street, but nothing too head-turning. Inside, however, the living room overflows with people, floorboards swaying under jumping feet. Where one would expect to find a couch is a handmade stage loaded with musical instruments and members of some of Bellingham’s most popular bands. Bellingham-based indie band Foxy Apollo held Foxy Fest, a two-night house-show music and arts festival on Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8 at Bluebird House. The lineup included Asterhouse, The Hookups, Hockey Teeth, Where’s the Exit, CHRVNS, Foxy Apollo, Madam Monarch and ebony.
Chalk floats through the air. Thumping feet hit the mat-covered floor. Athletes cling to colorful round holds that cover the high walls, pure strength and stamina holding them in place. This is Vital Climbing Gym. Finbarr Anderson, a new climber as of April 2022 and a third-year student at Western Washington University, said when people start climbing, they generally find their skill level rapidly advances.
The Washington state midterm elections are fast approaching – ballots are mailed Oct. 19 and due by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. If you’re in Whatcom County, you’ll see statewide and local elections on the ballot. Local elections, the focus of this column series, tend to have lower media coverage and voter participation compared to statewide and national elections.
After opening a first location in Ferndale last February, family-owned-and-operated thrift store Mystery Thrift opened a second location in downtown Bellingham on Sept. 3, with a focus on charity, affordability and sustainability. Kyle Weiss, his wife Nicole and their daughter Avery own the business, while other members of the family work or volunteer within it. Co-owner Kyle Weiss was hoping to land a larger second location in Ferndale, but the best building for the business was on Commercial Street in downtown Bellingham. The building will soon be shared with We Care, another donation-based thrift store.
After a summer of harassment and a violent act of vandalism, Bellingham business WinkWink Boutique remains resilient in the face of hatred. Five individuals threw rocks through the storefront windows of WinkWink in the early morning hours of Aug. 6, a culmination of the violent threats that the business had been receiving as a result of Uncringe Academy, the progressive sex-ed courses they offer for youth.
A month out from the Nov. 8 midterm elections, community members are finding ways to build solidarity and civic engagement on local and regional levels. A local political action group, Indivisible Bellingham, is hosting an action-oriented Rally for Reproductive Rights, Freedom and Privacy at Bellingham City Hall on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m.
When third-year student Kateri Rinallo arrived at Western Washington University, she had a realization. “Gas is really expensive,” Rinallo said. She’s not wrong — according to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas in Whatcom County is $5.45 — almost two dollars more than the national average. So when she came to Bellingham, Rinallo switched from four wheels to two. She gets around on her bike and says it takes her only 10 minutes to ride from her house right to the front of any lecture hall.
Many Bellinghamsters enjoy the Saturday Farmers Market in the depot square regularly, which is alive and well after 30 years of business. The market has kept running through the hard work of director Lora Liegel, the part-time staff, dedicated vendors and patrons who attend. The market, open weekly from April to December, has been under the care of Liegel since March 2019. Being introduced to the market just one year before the COVID-19 shutdown, she found herself consulting with the city of Bellingham and the Whatcom County Health Department to create a safe operational plan. The pandemic took its toll on the market, like many other businesses.
A few thousand people welcomed the return of the summer Downtown Sounds concerts as 1980s music from the band Nite Wave played across downtown Bellingham. The concert on Wednesday, July 6, was the first of five concerts happening downtown throughout July and August put on by the Downtown Partnership. They are among a few different free concert events planned this summer throughout the city.