Countywide Partnership Secures over $230,000 for Ferndale Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

city hall sign

The City of Ferndale, in collaboration with Whatcom County, other local cities and the Port of Bellingham has secured over $230,000 for 29 businesses in Ferndale. These resources are part of the Whatcom REstart grants, where local jurisidictions pooled their federal funds from the CARES act passed in the initial outbreak of COVID-19.

Grant applications were received from every city and town in Whatcom County, and an intentional effort was made to ensure that the recipients were also representative of the county by geography and industry.

Approximately $440,000 was allocated to businesses in unincorporated Whatcom County. A full list of the recipients and the amounts awarded will be made available on the Whatcom ReStart webpage.

“We are a resilient community. When we get knocked down, we don’t complain, we get back up and try again,” said Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen. “With these resources, I believe our businesses can come back after this crisis better and stronger than before.”

The grants are only eligible to cover specific expenses. The list of eligible expenses is limited by conditions under which CARES Act funds are distributed. Eligible expenses include but are not limited to: rent, ordinary loan payments, employee wages and benefits, typical operating costs and COVID-19-related public health measures.

“We’ve only been able to fund about 40%of the applicants, and that’s frustrating, because we see so many businesses and their employees impacted by this crisis,” said Gina Stark, Economic Development Project Manager at the Regional Economic Partnership. “We hope that those of you who we were not able to assist at this time will continue to adapt and to make things work.”

In addition to these business and economic response efforts, CARES Act funding has also been dedicated to support the public emergency response, food and housing security, childcare services, and services and facilities to those living unsheltered.

4 Ways to Submit Public Comments at Council Meetings During COVID-19

During this pandemic, it is more important than ever for the public to be able to share their thoughts and perspective with their elected officials. This input in an essential component of public decision-making and the City has provided several opportunities for public comment.

Tips for an Effective Public Comment:

Please include your Name and Address. This makes it easier to put your comment in the public record.
Be Brief and Specific. Share exactly what you are speaking in favor or against and why. It is better to offer 2-3 compelling points than 6-7 rambling items.
Avoid Speculation, Profanity, Slander and Accusations. This is a public proceeding and we ask all participants to be professional in their participation.

Below are the four ways in which the public can submit comments to their elected officials. The City encourage all who reside in the City of Ferndale to participate in the City’s decision-making process.

  1. Email Your Elected Officials. By far, the quickest and most direct way to provide input is to email the City Council and Mayor. Send an email to council@cityofferndale.org for the City Council or GregHansen@cityofferndale.org for the Mayor.
  2. Submit a Written Comment to be included in the Council Record. Email City Clerk Susan Duncan (susanduncan@cityofferndale.org) a statement to be included in the council minutes as public comment. Please state in your email to the City Clerk that it should be included in the written record. It must be received by 4pm on the Monday of a Council meeting at the latest to be included in that meeting’s minutes.
  3. Submit a Comment to be read aloud at a City Council Meeting. Email City Clerk Susan Duncan (susanduncan@cityofferndale.org) a statement to be read aloud as public comment. The statement must be shorter than 3 minutes when read aloud at a normal pace, this usually means a statement of 400 words or less. Please state in your email to the City Clerk that you would like the comment read aloud. It must be received by 4pm on the Monday of a Council meeting at the latest to be included in that meeting’s minutes. Public Comments submitted without a preference for inclusion in the written record or being read aloud will be included in the written record.
  4. Provide a Comment In Person During a Council Meeting with a Public Hearing. When City Council has a public hearing on the agenda (see agendas here), the City Annex will be open to visitors to provide an in-person public comment. Those who wish to offer the comment in person will be required to wear a mask and observe social distancing requirements while in the City Annex. The public comment must be shorter than 3 minutes.

For more information or questions on how to best participate in the City Council decision-making process, please contact City Clerk Susan Duncan at susanduncan@cityofferndale.org or 360-685-2354.

Councilmember Herb Porter Receives Certificate of Municipal Leadership

Councilmember Herb Porter

Congratulations to Councilmember Herb Porter for completing his Association of Washington Cities Certificate of Municipal Leadership! This course of study provides city elected officials with the knowledge they need to effectively operate within the law, plan for the future, secure and manage funds, and foster community and staff relationships. Bravo! https://wacities.org/events-edu…/cml-program/cml-recognition

Countywide partnership launches grant program for businesses impacted by COVID-19

Countywide partnership launches grant program for businesses impacted by COVID-19

CARES Act funds pooled by County and cities to boost economic recovery

Applications are being accepted beginning this week for a competitive grant program – called Whatcom ReStart – designed to support businesses and non-profits throughout Whatcom County that have been affected by COVID-19.

Whatcom ReStart will issue up to $2.6 million in general grants and another $800,000 for licensed childcare operators. For-profit and non-profit businesses and organizations impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for general grants of up to $15,000 each. There is no cap on grants to support childcare.

Whatcom County and the cities of Bellingham, Lynden, Ferndale, Sumas, Everson, Nooksack and Blaine have teamed up and combined their federal CARES Act allocations to offer this competitive grant program to assist businesses that have experienced revenue losses and expenses due to COVID-19-related closures or impacts.

The purpose of this program is to collaborate in support of local businesses and drive economic recovery. More information, including eligibility guidelines, criteria, and applications can be found on the Whatcom ReStart page of the Port of Bellingham website. Grant applications will be accepted July 16 through July 31, 2020. Funding decisions are anticipated in August and funding is expected to be disbursed in September.

“By joining forces, combining County and cities’ CARES Act funding, we are able to increase the reach and efficiencies of our response effort,” said Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu. “I am very pleased with the level of cooperation and willingness of each jurisdiction to work collaboratively for the benefit of all our communities.”

The grant program, funded by $2.6 million of federal CARES Act allocations, provides up to $15,000 to businesses employing up to 25 people prior to the pandemic to cover expenses related to losses caused by COVID-19 related closures. A portion of these funds are set aside for ground-floor, front-facing businesses in the City Center and Fairhaven Districts of Bellingham. A separate pool of $800,000 is dedicated to grants for licensed childcare businesses.

“Economic recovery is a priority throughout our COVID-19 response,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “These grants will help businesses stabilize as they work to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic. We are working together to get more of our community members back to work and to revive local businesses affected by COVID-19 restrictions, so we can see our local economies thriving once again.”

“Many businesses are really struggling today, particularly our childcare industry, and need quick access to this aid,” said Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen. “All partners recognized the time-

sensitive nature of the need and agreed that the grant application and administration should be as simple, inclusive and streamlined as possible.”

“Whatcom ReStart is designed to give a meaningful boost to local small businesses and their employees. We want these grants to have the greatest possible impact on our economy and community to foster resilience as we move forward. Both the eligibility requirements and the application scoring guidelines were developed with this in mind,” said Don Goldberg, Director of Regional Economic Partnership, which is playing a key role in the administration of the grant program.

In addition to these business and economic response efforts, CARES Act funding has also been dedicated to support the public emergency response, food and housing security, and services and facilities to those living unsheltered.

For more information about Whatcom ReStart, visit https://www.portofbellingham.com/933/Whatcom-Restart

Ferndale Municipal Court to Resume May 29th

Ferndale Municipal Court to Resume May 29th

Starting May 29th, the Ferndale Municipal Court will hold court for the first time since Gov. Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into effect. New sanitization and social distancing protocols will be in effect and participants will be required to wear a face covering. Those who arrive without face coverings will be provided one by the court.

“Justice is an essential function and I am relieved to be able to resume this important work,” said Judge Mark Kaiman. “We will be taking the steps necessary to move forward in a safe and responsible way.” Ferndale Municipal Court deals with cases relating to non-traffic and traffic infractions, criminal misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors.

Ferndale Municipal Court is held on Friday mornings at the City Annex, located at 5694 Second Ave, Ferndale.

Hearings that were scheduled for March 20th through April 24th are being rescheduled in the order they were originally received. For questions about a specific hearing, please contact the Court Clerk at 360.384.2827, or by email at info@ferndalecourts.org.

April Utility Bill Includes an Adjustment for Calculation Error

The city regrets to inform the public that there was a calculation error in the last billing cycle (Feb. 28th) that affected approximately 2,500 residential customers. It did not apply the correct average to the sewer charge which resulted in some bills being higher and some bills being lower in the Feb. 28th billing cycle. To fix that, this cycle’s bill includes an adjustment, either a credit or an additional charge, to fix that mistake.

But the bigger mistake was not including an explanation in the bills of this adjustment. That is on us, the City, and we apologize. The last couple of months have been hectic but that is no excuse, the public deserves the best from their local government and again, we apologize for not communicating about this adjustment.

Beyond that, bills are slightly higher than last year. The City conducted a rate study all last year to rebalance our utility bills and secure funding for our needed utility projects (the new deep well head and expanding the wastewater and water treatment plants). More information about that process is available here. As a result, the average household bill increased by approximately $30 per cycle. If a customer uses more than the average household’s worth of water, it may have been a higher increase.

It is worth remembering that with so many residents staying home this last cycle, usage may be up slightly.

That said, obviously, if residents have questions about their specific bill or think we made an error, please don’t hesitate to call our utility clerk, Jeanna, at 360-384-4269 or utilitybilling@cityofferndale.org. We can take a look at your specific case and see if it all adds up.

Finally, we understand that this is a difficult time with so many Ferndale residents being unable to work due to COVID-19. As a result, we have suspended shutoffs and late fees for the Feb and April billing cycles. We encourage folks who have not been impacted to continue to keep up with their bill but for those who have, please take the time needed.

Thank you.

Mayor Greg Hansen Speaks about Intalco, Old Settlers and Getting Back to Work

Transcript:

Hello Ferndale,

First, let me thank you and the thousands of other residents for all you’ve done to keep us safe and healthy this last month. Whether you are a grocery store clerk working at Haggens or Grocery Outlet, a Ferndale school teacher trying to keep your students engaged through a computer or just sheltering at home with your family, you are doing your part to protect our community. Thank you.

I wanted to take a few moments to talk to everyone in the City about what our future looks like. I’ve been in almost daily contact with the Governor’s office fighting to get Ferndale back to business in a safe and responsible way. I want to see our projects restarted and our businesses open but we have to do it right. The last thing anyone wants is for Ferndale to be ground zero for the next outbreak. A second wave would cause an even more brutal round of shut downs and we cannot afford that in either lives or dollars. That’s why I am so relieved to see most Ferndale residents doing what they can to stay home and stay healthy.

In another couple of weeks, we will see the restrictions from the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order begin to be lifted but it will not be like flipping a switch. We will still need to maintain social distancing for much of our day-to-day operations and we cannot allow large gatherings. Last week, the Old Settlers Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the City jointly agreed to suspend their large public events this summer in an effort to prevent another outbreak. Believe me, I was looking forward to Old Settlers Weekend, especially since this year would have been their 125 anniversary. Make no mistake, we will still celebrate our history – we will just have to do it without a big parade or festival in the park.

Even more troubling, this week we received news that the Intalco facility was closing. The smelter is part of the lifeblood of our community, and they have been putting food on the tables of Ferndale families for almost three generations. This closure will be a critical blow to our local economy in the midst of a difficult time. But we are Ferndale, we look after each other especially when things look the most grim. I know that I will do everything in my power to breathe life back into this facility and fight like hell for all of our Ferndale families that find themselves out of work.

These are difficult and troubling times but we are a resilient community. We’ve survived floods, economic disasters, tragedies and more. We will survive this – together.

Thank you

City Releases Updated Construction Guidelines to Help Complete Projects

UPDATE 4/24/2020 –

Today, Governor Jay Inslee lifted most restrictions on residential and commercial construction, allowing low risk construction projects to resume with additional safety precautions.

Mayor Greg Hansen is grateful that the Governor has listened to our repeated requests to restart construction in a safe and responsible way and this is a good start. For full details of the safety requirements, please see the guidelines available here. For questions about individual projects, please see Community Development Director Haylie Miller at HaylieMiller@cityofferndale.org or 360-685-2367.

April 20th, 2020 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Following consultation with the state and local officials, the City of Ferndale is releasing updated residential and commercial construction guidelines to help applicants complete projects already in process. These clarifications are consistent with the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order but may allow for some construction activity to continue within these guidelines. 

“Our first goal is to keep everyone safe,” said Community Development Director Haylie Miller, “and the best way to do that is for construction sites not to be active. That said, we understand that many projects were stopped immediately upon the Governor’s order which leaves the location vulnerable to theft, vandalism, deterioration and spoilage. We want to help prevent those impacts.”  

Since the beginning of the Governor’s order, the City of Ferndale has worked on a near-daily basis with state and local officials to clarify the meaning of the order. “We needed more than just the word ‘spoilage’ as a guidepost for what to greenlight,” said Mayor Greg Hansen. “We needed details and legally sound policy. I’m proud of our staff clarifying these details so that they can help our construction industry secure these locations in a safe and legally sound way.”

All construction activity that is moving forward during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order must adhere to the guidelines detailed below, including vigorous sanitation and social distancing measures and must confine their construction activities to those which prevent spoilage and protect the site.  

For more details, see the full construction guidelines available on the city website here and for questions, please contact Community Development Director Haylie Miller at HaylieMiller@cityofferndale.org or (360) 685-2367.

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