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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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.
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.
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.
The regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Monday, April 6, 2020 will be held remotely via Microsoft Teams, with staff and Councilmembers accessing the meeting from individual locations. This complies with Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay at Home Order, which states, in part, that people should refrain from all public gatherings, including civic activities.
This is still an open public meeting as defined by
the Open Public Meetings Act. The City will be using Microsoft Teams to
livestream the council meeting. Members of the public do not need to download
anything to view the proceedings. The meeting can be viewed by clicking this
link :Join live eventat
6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 6.
The public comment session at the opening of the meeting has
been cancelled until further notice. Members of the public are encouraged to
submit written comments to City Clerk Susan Duncan by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments received prior to 5:00 p.m. Monday, April 6 will be included in the
UPDATE 4/20/2020 – The City has issued revised guidelines for residential and commercial construction. See more details here.
Most Construction Activities Required to Stop
Governor’s proclamation deems nearly all construction as nonessential
The City of Ferndale announced today clarifications to Governor Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” statewide stay-at-home order as it pertains to construction, identifying nearly all construction as nonessential. This means most construction activities are required to stop during the order.
All construction activities allowed to continue under exemptions must comply with social distancing including appropriate health and worker protection measures before proceeding.
“We know this is hard,” said Mayor Greg Hansen, “But these necessary steps can literally save lives.”
According to the memo issued by the governor’s office, the exceptions are construction related to essential activities like health care, transportation, energy, defense and critical manufacturing; construction “to further a public purpose related to a public entity,” including publicly financed low-income housing; and emergency repairs.
The City will defer to the governor’s order as to the list of essential businesses and subsequent letters from the governor’s office identifying specific businesses or construction projects as essential.
City inspectors shall have the authority to determine what is allowable to prevent spoliation. In their discretion the installation of a roof, roofing materials, doors, windows, or structural elements necessary to prevent the degradation or failure of building elements.
Projects that have determined that they qualify as essential infrastructure and businesses as described below may request inspections:
Healthcare and Public Health facilities.
Emergency Service facilities.
Food and Agriculture facilities which manufacture or distribute and currently under construction.
Utility facilities related to transportation, communication, electric, water, wastewater.
Critical manufacturing facilities including hazardous or chemical materials.
Residential construction projects that are currently under construction can continue to a point to prevent spoliation, damage or unsafe conditions. Projects shall be brought to a point of securing the structure to prevent personal and environmental damage of exterior and/or interior building elements and to negate unsafe conditions. This will be construed narrowly.
Residential construction related to emergency repairs and projects that ensure structural integrity or the health and safety of occupants.
“The City continues to review, and process permit applications. Recognizing that construction is vital to our community, our goal is to keep all permits in various review stages, moving full speed ahead so that construction can commence as soon as the emergency order ends. We thank our local applicants, builders and contractors for the collaborative effort during this time.” Haylie Miller, Community Development Director.
If projects are continuing construction that is not deemed “essential by the Governor’s Order” , the City will cease inspections and may proceed with enforcement (as necessary) to gain compliance.
With the uptick in cleaning and sanitation, many of you are flushing wipes down into our sewer system. Please stop. There is no such thing as a flushable wipe, these materials do not break down and will clog our pump stations, causing serious damage to our utilities.
For more information or questions, please contact Ferndale Public Works at 360-384-4006.
Mayor Greg Hansen shares some of the City’s actions to protect our community from COVID-19 and offers three ways you can help. For more information and resources available during this difficult time check out cityofferndale.org/covid19 or the Whatcom County page at whatcomcovid.com.
Spanish language version available below with Councilmember Herb Porter.
My name is
Greg Hansen, and I’m the Mayor of Ferndale. Today, I am going to share with you
some of the things we are working on as a City to keep all of us safe during
this pandemic and what you can do to help.
other communities around the world, we have closed public spaces to help slow
the spread of this disease. This includes closing City Hall, the Police
Station, our municipal court and our playgrounds. For the safety of our staff
and others, we’ve empowered city employees to work remotely whenever possible. Despite
the crisis, the work of the City continues and we are reachable by phone, email
or through our website.
As you know,
the state and county have enacted measures to close schools, bars, restaurants,
libraries and other public places, and yesterday, the Governor issued an order
to shelter in place.We know this is hard but these necessary steps that
could save literally thousands of lives.
For those of
you worried about your utility bills, rest assured, we are not doing shutoffs
or charging late fees for the Feb. 28th bill. The next utility bill
does not go out until April 30th and we are working to see what
solutions are available then. We understand that people are struggling, and
this is what we are able to do right now to help.
and businesses needing economic support, there is an ever-growing list of
resources available. We have linked it in the description of this video.
For those of
you worried about your building permit deadlines, please contact our community
development staff who are ready to provide you the flexibility needed during
The City is
working closely with our neighboring communities. The County has established a
Unified Command at the County Emergency Operations Center so that all first
responders, medical professionals and public information officers in our area
can work together seamlessly. We are proud to be part of this dedicated team
working around the clock to protect our community.
always met challenges head on. When
there’s a big crisis, we always rise to meet it because that is what we do. We
are Ferndale, and we look out for each other. That’s why we need your help. Here
are the three things we need everyone in Ferndale to do.
the spread. That means staying home if you are sick, avoiding gathering in
groups, limit trips to the grocery store and wash your hands with hot water and
soap. This will help stop the spread of the disease.
But we also
need to stop the spreading of misinformation.
In a crisis, bad information can make a challenging situation even
worse. Please be prudent about what you share. Whatcom County has established a
single website for all COVID related information, it is whatcomcovid.com. For
Ferndale-specific details, please go to www.cityofferndale.org/covid19.
support your Ferndale businesses. Whenever possible, shop Ferndale. We’ve
assembled a list of restaurants providing takeout in our city at www.cityofferndale.org/takeout.
Pick up some food and tip well, it really does help. A number of other local businesses are
modifying their operation to facilitate convenient pick up and deserve our
look after each other. Call your elderly relatives, keep active as best you can
and make sure that your neighbors have the help they need. I know that when we
work together and take care of each other, we are stronger than any virus.
we are here to help. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to call
or email. Thank you.