News in Brief

News in Brief: Nov. 17 – 23, 2023

Members needed for Bellingham Plan work group
November 17, 2023 at 3:27 p.m.
Updated November 22, 2023 at 5:02 p.m.

By CDN Staff

News in Brief is published online every Friday, and updated throughout the week with bite-sized news from across Whatcom and Skagit counties. Read a roundup of the week's news in print the following Friday.

Wednesday, Nov. 22

Members needed for Bellingham Plan work group

The City of Bellingham is recruiting members to join the Bellingham Plan Community Work Group. The group will join meetings to help inform the city’s 2025 Comprehensive Plan update establishing goals and policies guiding development, capital investment and other city actions.

The 12 to 15 work group members will meet up to 11 times between January and November 2024, according to the city’s website. The city is looking for people passionate about their community, but who have not been consistently involved in the public process before. 

The goal is to include a diverse mix of community members, prioritizing those who have historically been underrepresented in the public process. Eligible members will receive stipends of up to $600 for participation. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m., Dec. 11.

21-year-old woman dies in a rollover crash near Glacier

A 21-year-old woman died in a rollover car crash along state Route 542 Monday night, Nov. 20.

Gemma Davis, of Sequim, was driving east on Route 542 around 11:30 p.m. when she crossed to the shoulder and overcorrected, according to a Washington State Patrol release. Her vehicle then rolled, and Davis was ejected. She was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the release. Her vehicle came to rest on the roadway. Davis died on the scene.

No drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident, the release stated.

Monday, Nov. 20

Shellfish toxin closure lifted in portions of southern Whatcom County

The Washington State Department of Health has lifted shellfish closures for beaches from Chuckanut Bay south to the Whatcom County line after a recent drop in biotoxin levels, according to the Whatcom County Health Department.

Closure to butter and varnish clams only remains in place in Portage Bay, a Monday, Nov. 20 news release stated.

The biotoxins can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, and levels can change quickly. Shellfish harvesters are advised to always check current biotoxin and pollution closures at the state Department of Health’s website:, or call the state biotoxin hotline at 1-800-562-5632.

Molluscan shellfish include clams, mussels, oysters and scallops. Algae that contain marine biotoxins cannot be seen and must be detected by laboratory testing, according to the release. Mussels and varnish clams usually contain the highest toxin concentration. Butter clams and varnish clams can retain toxins long after other species are safe to eat.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning and other naturally occurring biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Crab meat is not affected, but “crab butter” and crab entrails can contain toxins and should always be discarded.

Shellfish sold in restaurants and retail markets have been tested before distribution and are safe to eat.

Sunday, Nov. 19

Lummi Island ferry service interruption scheduled for Dec. 6

The Whatcom Chief ferry serving Lummi Island and Gooseberry Point will be out of service from 10:10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6 for inspection and maintenance of terminal facilities. The last departures before the outage will be at 9:50 a.m. from Gooseberry Point and 10 a.m. from Lummi Island.

This is part of Whatcom County Public Works’ plan to conduct such inspections about every two months.

These inspection and maintenance activities are weather dependent. If schedule changes occur due to weather, updates will be posted at

Friday, Nov. 17

No lead changes in latest election ballot drop

All of the major races remain the same after the latest election update on Friday, Nov. 17.

In the closest races, leaders as of the Nov. 9 ballot update managed to stay slightly ahead in the updated vote count.

Antonio Machado Catano is still leading Brent Bode for the Ferndale School District Director of District 2 spot. Machado has 5,670 votes, slightly ahead of Bode's 5,501 votes.

In the Lynden School District, incumbent Kenneth "Spin" Owsley continues to stay ahead of challenger Doris Smith for the Director Position 5. In the last count, Owsley was just 86 votes ahead of Smith, and as of Friday, is now 91 votes ahead.

In what on election night was a close race, Jace Cotton has pulled over 2,000 votes ahead of Russ Whidbee in the race for the at-large position on Bellingham City Council.

Voter turnout is now 51.17%, up slightly from 50.6% last week.

The next ballot count will be on Monday, Nov. 27. Election results will be certified on Tuesday, Nov. 28. 

Challenging hiking trail to open at Lake Whatcom Park

A trail promising “a serene escape into the heart of nature” opens Saturday, Nov. 18 at Lake Whatcom Park, according to a Whatcom County news release.

The new Chanterelle Connector Trail connects the upper end of the Chanterelle Trail to the Hertz Trail. A short side trail offers a “breathtaking overlook of Lake Whatcom,” the release said.

Hikers should be prepared for a challenge. The elevation changes 2,100 feet over four miles, and a stair section with more than 300 steps includes an 80% grade.

Whatcom County Parks and Recreation will hold a dedication ceremony sometime in December, weather permitting.

Lummi Nation School evacuated after bomb threat

Lummi Nation School faced a bomb threat during a parent advisory committee meeting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The building was evacuated and local police were notified in accordance with established emergency procedures.

The Lummi Nation Police Department conducted a sweep of the premises with trained personnel and canine units. Authorities subsequently declared the building safe for re-entry, allowing for classes to start without interruption the following day.

“We want to emphasize that the Lummi Nation School has well-established protocols for handling such emergencies, and our dedicated staff, in coordination with law enforcement, acted swiftly and diligently to ensure everyone's safety,” read a statement posted on the Lummi Nation School website.

Police confirmed the school is cooperating with the FBI investigation into the incident. Nobody at the school was immediately available for comment.

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