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The Setonian
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Fireworks ban to extend county-wide next year

The Bellingham Police and Fire Departments are teaming up this Fourth of July to enforce Bellingham’s firework ban. The ban was originally passed in June 2014, and the ban will extend county-wide next year. Since then, Lynden Assistant Fire Chief Robert Spinner asked in a statement for Lynden residents to join in on not using fireworks this year. Bellingham’s Police Department Lieutenant Bob Vander Yacht emphasized the need for enforcement and education for Bellingham residents to have a fun but safe Independence Day. “We’re putting out teams of officers and fire marshals,” Vander Yacht said. “Part of it is education and reminding people about the law, but the other part is enforcement.” The primary concern of the patrols is to provide the community with the understanding that it is illegal to use or possess fireworks within Bellingham’s city limits. The patrol teams expect to limit the quantity of fireworks and illegal devices. “If there was a year that this would be important to comply with the new law, this is going to be that year,” Vander Yacht said. “It’s a tinderbox across the state of Washington.” Whatcom County is at high risk for wildfire danger due to dry conditions this summer, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. A county-wide fire ban on recreational fires has been implemented this year in response to this heat wave. That is pretty significant to say you can’t even have a campfire, Vander Yacht said. “That really tells you what the concerns are, even for Whatcom County.” If people are found possessing or using explosives, a misdemeanor can be filed. Other explosives such as M-80’s or improvised devices such as tennis ball bombs are illegal anywhere in Washington State. Felony charges could be filed against anyone found in possession of such explosive devices. “There was a number of concerns from the neighborhoods and from the residents about the level of noise and the level of risk for structural damage from fires because of the density of our population,” Vander Yacht said in response to the initial reasoning behind the ban. In response to the ban, Bellingham residents are making alternate plans for this Fourth of July. “I didn’t know about that, but that’s a little annoying, because I probably would have gotten some fireworks,” Matthew Glitsch, a Western student, said. “I might just go watch the firework show or something.” Western student Kiley Kamitomo, upon learning of Bellingham’s firework ban,  said, “It bums me out. I would assume in a college town, it would probably bum a lot of people out.” Kamitomo said she has had bad experiences with fireworks in the past, which made her more understanding of the current firework ban. “People can be really stupid with fireworks, they don’t know how to properly use them,” Kamitomo said. Kamitomo said the fact of lack of knowledge about fireworks and dry weather could make for a dangerous situation, but could be avoided with proper education. There are still stands in Whatcom County selling fireworks, but there are no longer firework stands in Bellingham. Fireworks should not be transported back into Bellingham, Vander Yacht said. Bellingham residents can look forward to Bellingham’s Haggen Inc. Family Fourth of July Celebration as an option for people looking to enjoy a firework show over Bellingham Bay starting around 10:30 p.m.


The Setonian
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Western freshman wins journalism excellence award

Western freshman Chelsee Johnson received a second place award in the 2014 Society of Professional Journalists Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest. Johnson was an intern at the Omak-Okanogan Chronicle in Northeastern Washington during summer 2014, and she received the award Saturday, June 13. The award recognized her for her work on the Carlton Complex fire that destroyed many buildings and homes last summer in Okanogan County. She felt that the goal of her work was to keep everyone up to date on the situation, Johnson said. Johnson competed with around 1,800 entries from papers from all over the Northwest, including Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington state. Roger Harnack, editor and publisher of the Omak-Okanogan Chronicle, said that Johnson was dynamic and outgoing during her time on the paper. Although she was hired for social media, she ended up writing obituaries and stories on crimes and accidents. “I learned a lot about working with people and working in stressful situations,” Johnson said. “I learned about going out and talking to people, how to walk up to somebody, take their picture, talk to them about something they don’t want to talk about,” Johnson said. Her background consisted of yearbook at the local high school before she began as an intern for the Omak-Okanogan Chronicle, she said. “I was pretty new to the whole newspaper thing,” Johnson said. She was 17 years old while on staff at the Okanogan Chronicle. Johnson was not the only person from the Chronicle to win the Excellence in Journalism award. Her co-workers Dee Camp, Al Camp, Brock Hires and Harnack also won. Despite her aptitude for journalism, Johnson said she does not want pursue it as a career. “I’m interested in politics and I’m going to law school,” Johnson said. “I thought about it for a while and I really enjoy it, but I would have to have experience in different setting than I did, in a different place with different people. Not that there’s anything wrong with the staff at the Chronicle.” Johnson was on her high school yearbook for four years, and was an editor for three. “I learned a lot doing yearbook about design, copy and photo,” Johnson said. “I got the internship at the Chronicle because of it.” Region 10 of SPJ sponsors the Northwest Excellence in Journalism Awards, and the awards go to both professionals and students. First place winners will receive a trophy, while second and third place will receive certificates.


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Western President Bruce Shepard announces plans to retire

“Serving Western has been a richly rewarding privilege and so this has not been an easy decision. Yet, transitions always come and, after much reflection, I believe it is time for Western and for Cyndie [Shepard] and me,” Shepard said in a press release. “We are deeply grateful for having the opportunity to serve Western, look forward to an exciting final year, and know that, over the years that then follow, we will always proudly be Vikings.”



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