Mayoral Proclamation: Gratitude to the Lummi Nation

Mayor Greg Hansen

Mayoral Proclamation for March 1st, 2021

THE CITY EXTENDS ITS GRATITUDE TO THE LUMMI NATION

 WHEREAS, the ability for a community to stop the spread of COVID-19 remains dependent on being able to vaccinate as many members of the public as possible; and

WHEREAS, the Lummi Nation and the community of Ferndale share a long and deep history together; and

WHEREAS, the Lummi Nation recognizes the importance of vaccinating Ferndale School District teachers, staff, and employees; and

WHEREAS, Ferndale School District staff were not currently eligible for the vaccine under the guidelines laid out by the Washington State Department of Health; and

WHEREAS, as a sovereign nation, the Lummi Nation has access to a different supply of vaccines and is able to implement a vaccine schedule that meets the needs of their community; and

WHEREAS, the Lummi Nation identified the Ferndale School District teachers, staff and school board as essential members of their community and therefore included them in their eligibility schedule; and

WHEREAS, the Lummi Nation established a vaccination event on February 27th to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to 374 school district employees: and

WHEREAS, generosity is a core value of the Lummi Nation and speaks to who they are as a people;

 NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, we, the City of Ferndale, do hereby express our profound gratitude to the Lummi Nation for helping vaccinate our Ferndale teachers and staff. Your generosity protects our community as a whole and we are deeply thankful for this effort.       

Greg Hansen,
Mayor
City of Ferndale

State of the City Address 2021

Mayor Greg Hansen

A Challenging Year and Looking Ahead

The State of the City 2021

By Mayor Greg Hansen

Remembering a single day can bring the distance of a year into focus. It was at the second council meeting in March, only my sixth meeting since being sworn in as the Mayor of Ferndale, when we received notice from the Governor that we were going into a statewide lockdown. In a single moment, the course of our city changed.

Ferndale did what we had to do. We buckled down, wore our masks, shifted to remote work where we could and tried to flatten the curve, but as the weeks stretched into months and we experienced spike after contagious spike, it was clear that this was a marathon, not a sprint.

Even as we were still comprehending the scope of the pandemic came the second blow – the curtailment of Alcoa. The smelter had put food on the table for three generations of Ferndale families and it leaves a big hole in our hearts.

Alcoa

I had expected to spend my first year in the Mayor’s office working on revitalizing our downtown, working on plans for a new city campus or celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Old Settlers Picnic.

We do not get to choose the times in which we live, only how we respond to the moment of crisis. In this, know that we have incredible public servants working around the clock on behalf of our city. City staff got right to work solving problems, building bridges and leveraging our relationships with our community partners to meet the moment head on. From the school district to the port, our local businesses to our non-profits, everyone put their heads together to tackle this crisis.

We developed COVID safe construction standards to allow private and public projects in Ferndale to safely resume work ahead of the rest of the state. We secured over $294,000 in grants for Ferndale businesses and organizations. We worked with the Ferndale Community Resource Center to help with utility bills and even made our own Variety Show with the Old Settlers Association to help celebrate their anniversary.

Thornton Overpass

All of this while never losing sight of our long-term goals. We continued critical investments in our infrastructure, including significant progress on the Thornton Overpass and the Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion.  Housing construction remained strong throughout 2020 and into the new year.

As we turn our eyes to the future, the question remains: what is the state of the City of Ferndale? From a city budget perspective, we are in a better position than many of our neighboring small cities. Ferndale always struggled to generate retail sales taxes, a critical component of city budget, but the shift to online purchases has brought in a corresponding boost in city revenues. That said, a city cannot sustain itself without our locally owned businesses, they are more than just a budget line item, they are jobs, community touchstones and that which gives us our identity. Please do what you can to support our local businesses during this difficult time.

With the sudden influx of sales tax and the constant stream of construction activity in Ferndale, our city budget is steady for 2021 although we are being cautious about the future.  As Anthony Bourdain said, “Luck is not a business model.” And for those of you put out of work by the Alcoa curtailment or the impacts of COVID, this is small comfort.

We are continuing our work to ensure there is a path, not just back to normal, but to a brighter and better Ferndale. We are investing in our public spaces – a new bathroom in VanderYacht Park, a Picnic Shelter in Star Park and, if the state legislature approves our grant, a new Skate Park in Pioneer Park. These public facilities provide opportunities for community events, safe places to recreate and create local construction jobs.

Star Park Picnic Shelter rendering

We are looking ahead at long-term solutions before they become home-grown disasters. Next month, council will consider placing an affordable housing measure on the ballot this November which would provide much needed matching funds to build affordable units right here in our city for Ferndale residents. This approach, coupled with improvements to our zoning, infrastructure, an emphasis on housing above commercial uses within the Downtown core allows us to tackle the housing crisis on multiple fronts.  One only need look at the crisis unfolding in front of the Bellingham City Hall lawn to know that we cannot wait to tackle the housing crisis – we need to take the steps today to help people stay in their homes.  

In that vein, we are committing the resources to get several road projects shovel ready, including Ferndale Terrace and connecting the Thornton Overpass to our neighborhoods on the hill. This will allow us to capitalize on infrastructure grants put out by the state and federal government to bring those dollars home to our town and fix a few potholes while we are doing it.  The City has been aggressive in informing our representatives in Olympia and Washington DC of infrastructure needs, so that we are well-positioned as a City should infrastructure stimulus bills be adopted.

This last year has been a learning experience, and I do not want it to go to waste. We will expand on the communication tools we have mastered during the pandemic to allow more transparency and better access to your government, whether that is streaming a live video of your council meeting or interactive surveys allowing you to provide instant feedback on city decisions.

Old Settlers Parade

Finally, we will be working to support our signature Ferndale events – our Pioneer Days, Street Festival and Summer of Fun, to ensure that they last for the next generation. They will require all of us to step up – volunteer, sponsor and participate if we want to keep them running strong.

I still have those big plans from the start of my term sitting in my office. We will still need a new city campus with a courthouse and council chambers that can meet our needs going into the future, and I look forward to that day where I can walk past our new catalyst buildings in downtown Ferndale, enjoy a hot dog at Pioneer Days or drive over the Thornton Overpass on my way through the City.

Those days are not far in the distance, they are just around the corner.

City Council Passes Unanimous Resolution in favor of Ferndale School Levy

Front Row: Councilmembers Paul Shuey, Herb Porter, Kate Bishop and Ramon Llanos. Back Row: Councilmembers Ryan O’Larey, Erin Gunter, Mayor Greg Hansen and Councilmember Ali Hawkinson

City Council Passes Unanimous Resolution in favor of Ferndale School Levy

Last night, the Ferndale City Council passed a unanimous resolution in favor of the Ferndale School District Programs and Operations Levy.

The resolution, introduced by Councilmembers Ryan O’Larey and Erin Gunter, strongly endorses an “approved” vote for the Levy because, “Voting to approve the replacement levy will continue to provide funding for the much-needed support staff, counselors, paraeducators, extracurricular activities, and so much more. Ferndale students benefit intellectually,emotionally, and physically when these are funded.”

Ballots are due Nov. 3rd, 2020 by 8PM. Voters are encouraged to utilize the convenient ballot drop box located in the parking lot adjacent to Ferndale City Hall and the Ferndale Library.

City of Ferndale Honors Indigenous Peoples Day

Today we honor our friends and neighbors, the Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Tribe as we celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. We acknowledge the courage and resilience of those who have lived on this land since time immemorial and urge everyone to dig deep and explore history that has been ignored for far too long

City Statement about Upcoming Black Lives Matter Rally on July 31st

city hall sign

The City is aware of the upcoming youth-led Black Lives Matters rally scheduled for July 31st. The City has not issued a permit for the event as Whatcom County is still in Phase 2 and gatherings over five people are not allowed, however the City has been in communication with the organizers.

For all who choose to participate, whether in support or opposition, the City strongly urges residents to practice social distancing, wear masks, obey all laws and most importantly, peacefully assemble.

“Our students have a civic right, and in my opinion, a responsibility to peacefully raise their voices and advocate for what they believe. As do all of our residents, no matter their beliefs or concerns. Wherever you stand, we are a community of neighbors. Ferndale can all agree to a respectful discourse without ugliness, intimidation or threats,” said Mayor Greg Hansen.

Ferndale Police will be on site to monitor the situation and will take action as necessary to protect the safety of the community and our residents.

Construction to Resume with Additional Safety Precautions

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.

Mayor Greg Hansen Statement on Intalco Facility Closure

Mayor Greg Hansen Statement on Intalco Facility Closure:

“This news is simply heartbreaking. 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.

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.”

City of Ferndale Response to COVID-19 with Mayor Hansen

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.

Complete text:

Hello Neighbors,

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.

Like many 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.

For families 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 this time.

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.

Ferndale has 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.

First, stop 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.

Second, 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 support.  

Finally, 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.

As always, we are here to help. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to call or email.  Thank you.

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