hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Saturday, October 26, 2013

One of Our Heart's Desires, At Least

Maybe ten years ago, I was briefly involved in a group that did a survey of what residents most wanted to see in Point Roberts that they weren't seeing.  The most popular item, it turned out, was pizza delivery.  Now, only ten years later, I see that the Pier Restaurant has a sign on a truck down on APA and Tyee announcing that it will deliver PIZZA.  Which only goes to prove that if you are steadfast in your desires, you can have whatever you want.  Or something like that...

Friday, October 25, 2013

What Was He Thinking?

I received a couple of pieces of information today (one on Point Interface) from Ron Hughes, a guy who is perhaps a solo operation or perhaps has other supporters in his opposition to the bond levy to repair the Community Center.  Only his name appears, so maybe it's just him.  (The other info was a comment on the previous blog post: see here for his meanderings.)

In any case, he has ginned up a ton of words in opposition, none of which makes much sense.  E.g., he likes to say that the Park and Recreation Dept. has "given" the Julius Fire Hall to the Friends of the Point Roberts Library rather than kept its ownership of this worthy property asset.  As someone who has been working near fulltime for almost 2 years to raise funds to renovate that building for the Park and Recreation District, so that said District can put the library in that building and reclaim the space in the Community Center, I find this mighty irritating.  When the Friends of the P.R. Library complete the fund raising, the Julius Firehall will be turned into a much more valuable building and it will be owned not by the Friends of the P.R. Library, nor by the Whatcom County Librarty Services: it will continue to be owned by the Park and Recreation District.

He seems convinced that the only problem of concern at the Community Center is the roof.  That is just flat wrong; the building has been and may still be standing in water; there is rot; there is mold.

In addition to being irritated by Mr. Hughes' misstatements, I am amused by his language.  Thus, he has named his group "The Con Committee."  I am astonished that neither he nor the committees' other members, if there are any, noticed the primary meaning of that name: This, apparently, is a committee that intends to con local voters.  Well, it's truth in advertising at a new level.  Thanks for your honesty, Mr. Hughes!

As to his substantive comments that aren't entirely confused, well...  His major claim is that the Park and Recreation Commissioners (one of whom is his wife) need to take a longer term view.  Repairing the Community Center for the next 30 years is not long enough for him?  What in the world does he have in mind?  The new library when done, will be good for probably 50 years.  Not long-term enough for him?

It's possible that he is one of that odd coterie of folks around here who think if only we tried harder Point Roberts might be more like Carmel, California, or one of those other charming, crowded, touristy towns with expensive shoppes where the tourists will buy, buy, buy, and residents will grow rich on entrepreneurship.  Or if we tried even harder, maybe it would be like some tiny New York City.  I don't think so.  And who here (besides Mr. Hughes, perhaps) would want to live in a tiny New York City, or Carmel with or without a difficult border?  So crowded; parking problems; noise; urban difficulties: and all in 5 square miles PLUS a border.  Perhaps he longs for shoppes on that second floor of the Community Center that he'd like to see built?

Vote YES on the levy, please.  We need to repair the Community Center.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I went to the Candidates Night week before last.  Most of what I learned was that the County Council candidates don't know that much about Point Roberts and, even more interesting to me, that we in Point Roberts don't know much about the County Council and what they do and are interested in.  When the generous question period came for these candidates, nobody had any questions.

Even when the Fire District Commissioner candidates and the Park and Rec Board Chair discussed their various candidacies (Mark Robbins was speaking on behalf of the Levy to repair the Community Center), precious few questions were heard.  Stan Riffle (Fire District Commissioner candidate) said he was a good guy with experience (and didn't mention any of the sturm und drang that have been the hallmark of the last year+ of Fire District meetings in which he has fully participated as a safe vote for whatever Bill Meursing wants).  Craig Carter said he wanted to bring "harmony" to the Fire District Meetings (which means, I'd guess, he wants to be another vote that Bill Meursing can count on; it's worth noting that he has previously been in business with Meursing and that he volunteered that an unnamed person had asked him to run for Commissioner).

Fire Commissioner candidate Rob Dean did mention some of that disorderly mess that followed the Fire District's firing Nick Kiniski "without cause", a firing that has never been explained by Meursing/Riffle.  As well, Dean spoke about some more recent matters, including the inexplicable 20% increase in the Fire Chief's salary that was passed very recently.  This was then followed by an unexpected and very loud appearance by the Fire Chief (Chris Carleton) who is NOT running for any office but felt some need to strongly defend pretty much everything he's ever said or done in Point Roberts.  After the talking was over, one of the County Council guys asked me privately, "What's wrong with the Fire Chief?"  Indeed.  Good question.

If you vote here, you've received your ballots.  I can't prove that, if Jeff Wilmot and Rob Dean are elected, the Fire District will settle down to a wonderful performance level.  But I do know that if Craig Carter and Stan Riffle are elected Bill Meursing will have three votes instead of his current two votes (himself and Riffle).

And here's two things about Meursing that may be worth knowing:

1.  Meursing allows public comments only at the beginning of each Fire District public meeting.  However, he does not allow questions during the comment period because, as he has repeatedly advised me when I try to ask questions about what they're doing, "This is a Comment Period, not a Question Period, Ms. Ross."  Now Bill Meursing may have great powers, but he doesn't have the power to overrule the 1st Amendment to the Constitution and it's the First for a reason.  He doesn't have to answer the questions, but every member of this community has a right to ask questions about what they are doing as Fire District Commissioners.  Meursing does not seem to know that.

2. A frequent Meursing comment at regular meetings to Jeff Wilmott, who is also a Fire District Commissioner, is "Are You going to play ball here?"  Perhaps he also does not know (because he does not appear to be a native English speaker) that that phrase implies something slightly distasteful in the democratic context.  In fact, it is the heart of democracy to vote one's conscience rather than to just "go along" with what someone else pressures you to do.  Meursing apparently lives in a world where everyone else is just expected to "play ball," and in the Fire District world, that means doing whatever Meursing wants, as far as I can tell.

So, a vote for Jeff Wilmot and a vote for Rob Dean will not be more votes for Meursing and, if their candidacies are successful, it could change the atmosphere around the Fire District for the better: more open, more transparent, more accessible and accountable to the public.

That's my take on that particular election, as someone who has attended almost all Fire District Meetings in the past 14 or 15 months.

Second Election Issue:  As someone who is at least peripherally involved with the Park and Recreation Dept. (in connection with the new library fundraising), I very strongly urge everyone to vote "YES" on the $250,000 levy that will pay for major maintenance on the Community Center.  Just imagine how this community works (the community part of it) or doesn't work without a Community Center?  And if that grand old building doesn't get major repairs, we're not going to have a Community Center.  The only sensible vote is "YES," and it will cost each of us a pittance--something like $5-$10 each year--on our property taxes for the next decade to restore it to wholeness.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Jeff Downer's View of Us

Jeff, a Vancouver guy, was around last year; interested in doing some kind of grad school project on Point Roberts.  But then he disappeared.  I ran into his website this evening, which has this about the Point:

"Point Roberts, WA
A quarantined culture 
Point Roberts, Washington, the awkward little peninsula below Tsawwassen, is a space kept in isolation from the rest of it’s country, cut off from its inherent culture of the United States. It exists as an American territory solely because it falls below the 49th parallel, rendering the space, its culture, its people in a quarantine-like state, away from major sociological, technological, and economical advancements. It remains untouched from large american corporations, other than gas stations that residents from the Greater Vancouver area flock to on weekends in search of cheap gas prices, or an easy entry point into Canada by runaway criminals.
I am interested in what the culture of an area so gated (Americans have to cross two borders to access the area, Canadians, one) and so detached, yet independent, is like within a contemporary societal context. Or, like most areas, has this area too been effected by mass development, or is it a destination for retirees? Do people that work and live in a displaced landscape mimic their environment? The physical border itself, a mere cement block cylinder lines the border of the two territories. How can something so superficial hold so much weight?
As both an American and Canadian Citizen, I am personally drawn to this binary, and feel Point Roberts is probably the closest space to an area where both countries overlap and coexist in what feels like an ephemeral refuge or muster-station; waiting, just waiting." 

Although it doesn't all sound right to me (as a near 20-year resident), i do very much like the phrase: "waiting, just waiting."  But I surely don't know for what.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Truth in Advertising, Election Edition

I was out driving round the Point today and saw that 3 of the 4 the candidates for Fire Commissioner positions have election signs out on the road shoulders.

--"Elect Jeff Wilmott" (Fire Commissioner)

--"Craig Carter" (for Fire Commissioner)

--"Re-elect Stan Riffle" (for Fire Commissioner")

The problem with that is that Wilmott and Riffle were both appointed to their current seats.  We are getting the chance to ELECT Mr. Wilmott, Mr. Riffle, Mr. Carter, and Mr. Dean (Dean doesn't have any signs up) for the first time since none of them has previously been elected to the position of Fire Commissioner.

Why does Mr. Riffle think that he is being RE-Elected?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Good Citizens

On Saturday, Rhiannon Allen was bringing wonderful chard (I bought some; I speak from experience) from her garden to the Great Indoor Yard and Baked Sale for the benefit of the new library.  Yesterday, I saw her on Tyee doing the fall work on the beautiful garden created and maintained by the P.R. Garden Club.  It's people like Rhiannon that make this a community in the best sense of the word.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Local Starfish: They Okay?

News of a strange die-off of sunflower starfish off the B.C. coast comes to our attention.  You can read about it here and look at pictures, too.  I've not seen sunflower starfish down here off Point Roberts--just the purple ones--but then I don't spend a lot of time looking for them.  Anybody seeing dead ones?  Of any kind?

update:  http://kuow.org/post/mass-starfish-die-may-be-headed-washington

second update:  http://www.vancouversun.com/travel/Sudden+disappearance+sardines+serious+economic+ecological/9034961/story.html
The sardines/pilchards have all disappeared too.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Second Set of Fire Hydrants, Point Roberts

A number of you called or wrote to tell us where your painted fire hydrant was located, but Ed is still missing some of the reported 147 that have been painted.  Nevertheless, here is another bunch, none of which were included in the first set he/we published.  You can click on each of the small pictures to get an enlarged version.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Whatcom County Politics

We're a little sheltered up here from Whatcom County politics, even though we are in Whatcom County.  Which may mean nothing more than that we are largely uninformed about the county politics that affect us in various ways.  I have just had my attention brought to a blogger who writes about Whatcom County politics. Worth bookmarking and reading, I suspect, especially during this onrushing election season.

See it here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What We Do in the Fall

The Last Sunflowers of the Summer, photo by Ed Park

The off-and-on aggressive rains of the past ten days remind us of the fall that is to come.  But today there is sun to tempt us to think that summer will come back.  I don't think so.  At least not for many months.

There are many things on our plates this fall in Point Roberts.  There's the County decisions (Planning Board, Hearing Examiner) on the Cottages at Seabright Farm and on the KRPI radio tower construction; there's the election with (unusual) contested seats: in particular, two Commissioners at the Fire District (which election you may conclude safely that I have a special interest in); there's the $250,000 bond issue for the vitally-needed renovation and maintenance of the Community Center; and (for me, but really for us all) the conclusion of the two-year drive to raise money for the renovation of the Julius Firehall into a new library for Point Roberts.  All have their supporters and their opponents and we'll be hearing more about that as the weeks progress.

At the moment, I want to bring to your attention the All Community Indoor Yard and Bake Sale to be held at the Community Center on October 12, from 10-6.  Although it is sponsored by the Library Fundraising Group, it is not intended to raise money solely for them.  Anybody can reserve a table space and sell what they want of a yard-sale nature and keep the money (although everyone needs to pay a $5 table space fee for the use of the Community Center).  The Library Fund will have several tables of yard sale goods plus the baked goods sale products.  But we have already had requests for about 8+ other tables, including fall produce, as well as yard sale materials (clothing, household goods, skill saws, golf clubs, etc.)

The Library people will make some money here for the new library, they/we hope, but the decision to do this was largely based upon our experience at the Saturday Market this summer when, for 3 or 4 weeks at the end, we had a yard sale table.  That came about because a friend of Ed's was cleaning out their garage and offered him a bunch of construction materials which we decided to take to the Market for the library cause.  And that first week was so much fun, that we repeated it for the next few weeks, adding to the stores of goods from here and there.  We 'sold' things for whatever people thought they were worth, and the process itself engaged people in a surprising way.  I discovered people just like to poke around in boxes and consider adding to their own supplies of things.  And they like the bargain aspect, setting what I think of as a Platonic, which is to say, ideal price.  I believe that each of us has some firm idea about what something is really worth (as opposed to what somebody else thinks we ought to pay), and this is a process which lets you execute that 'real worth' decision.  I like it; lots of other people seemed to like it.  And the money went to the library which is a pretty popular cause.

So we're doing it one more time, all day.  Join us as a seller; join us as a baker; join us as a shopper.  But join us.  And we'll all be there having a good time.