Living by the Nooksack

The City of Ferndale is always looking for new and inventive ways to reach out to our community beyond the limitations of social media and this website. To bolster these efforts, the City Council approved a pilot program for a citywide newsletter to be distributed quarterly through utility bills.

This newsletter is used to inform the public about city programs, upcoming projects and local history.

All the material in each issue is available here as they come out for those who wish to access it.

If you’ve got feedback on this pilot program or ideas for future articles, please contact Communication Officer Riley Sweeney by clicking here or calling (360) 685-2353.

June 30th, 2019 Issue

Eagleridge Students Explore the Math Behind the Thornton Overpass Project

Students at Eagleridge Elementary got to roll up their sleeves and, using new math skills, plan out a key piece of the Thornton Overpass project last month.

Capital Projects Manager Katy Radder and her team of City employees taught students how to utilize math to measure distances on a map drawn to scale. Next, they received yarn representing each of the different utilities (light, water, sewer, storm and communications) that need to be installed in the Thornton Overpass, which begins construction this year.

Students worked to fit the utilities into the space for the project while working within limitations. After all, water and sewer lines cannot be placed too close together. Public Works staff also answered questions about Ferndale’s infrastructure and what it is like working for the City.

City Greenlights First Phase of Salish Village Project at Slater Road

After several months of design/review, the City is proud to issue permits to the Lummi Commercial Company (LCC) for what is considered the first phase of the Salish Village project located on Tribal Trust property south of Slater Road, within Ferndale City Limits. This phase includes a travel center with truck stop amenities and a 10,000 square foot store.

The LCC has contributed to the City to address the potential traffic and utility impacts of this phase and will be improving significant portions of Rural Avenue and Slater Road as well as
installing the water infrastructure to connect the property.

“The Lummi Nation and the City have worked diligently to ensure that the interests of both are met and protected,” said City Administrator Jori Burnett. “We share a common community, and I’m excited to continue to explore more partnerships as we move forward.”

“This is a project that we can all be proud of. We are encouraged with the partnership that we have built with the City of Ferndale and look forward to the things to come,” said Tim Ballew, CEO of the LCC.

The City anticipates working with the Lummi Nation, the State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), County, and the City of Bellingham later this summer as WSDOT begins work on the Slater Road corridor for up to $21 million made available through Washington State’s Connecting Washington program, the same program that has substantially funded the Thornton Overpass.

Stop Bike Thieves, Register Your Bike

With the nice weather, bicycle theft is on the rise. With a few easy steps, you can stop bike theft in its tracks—all you need to do is register your bike. Many bicycles are returned to the Ferndale Police but never claimed or resold at pawn shops. Registration gives us a chance to find the right owner.

Help us help you by filling out a bicycle registration form on our website ( or stop by the department during office hours and fill one out in person.

For additional information call our office Monday thru Friday 8:00a – 5:00p at 360-384-3390 ext 0.

Only Rain Down the Drain

Pet waste doesn’t biodegrade like wild animal waste, it sticks around for a long time and contains harmful bacteria. It is raw sewage that pollutes our local waters, and the City of Ferndale is committed to reducing fecal
coliform in surfacewater and stormwater.

By bagging pet waste and putting it in the trash, you can help keep our water clean and help the City save time and money. There are pet waste dispensers located throughout our Ferndale Parks or you can stop by City hall to sign the Pet Waste Pledge and receive a free pet waste bag dispenser .

For more information about our efforts to keep our waters clean, check out


Why does the City allow so many dang pharmacies to open?

Here at the City, we get this question often. The City is actually not involved in the decisions to locate a specific business at a specific location. Often private businesses base the decision on demographics, foot traffic, growth and scores of other considerations.
The City does decide the zoning for an area that outlines general types of businesses (retail, light manufacturing, etc) that are appropriate for that part of town. Then, if a business owner is interested in setting up shop, and they fulfill the legal requirements to do so, the City issues a permit. The rest is up to the free market and local customers as to what they will support and which businesses will flourish.

The Wild Pioneer Life of William “Blanket Bill” Jarman

One of Ferndale’s more colorful settlers, Blanket Bill Jarman is credited as the first permeant white settler in the area when he first put down roots in Whatcom County in 1852. Jarman caused quite a stir earlier when he was kidnapped by tribal members from Vancouver Island and had to be ransomed with a pile of blankets as tall as he stood, earning him his nickname.

In the 1850s, he officially delivered mail by canoe for Fort Bellingham by canoe, and unofficially served as a smuggler. In the 1860s, he staked out a homestead in the county and worked as a bartender for a saloon in Bellingham. In 1871, a saloon patron insulted Jarman’s sister. A fight broke out and Jarman shot and killed the surly patron. Jarman was jailed for a short time before returning to England for a decade.

He returned to Whatcom and moved to Ferndale to stay with his niece and her husband, William Manning on their farm.  In 1904, the Old Settlers Association recognized Jarman as the oldest living settler and described him as, “”Sailor, deserter, trader, hunter and fisherman, fur dealer, Indian slave, tribesman, squawman, homesteader, ship master, telegraph linesman, army courier and mail carrier, interpreter, bar tender, accused murderer, gold digger; there was little he did not find interesting and zestful”. You can find out more about Blanket Bill from the Ferndale Heritage Society at Pioneer Park.

Five Ferndale Festivals this Summer

Looking for some fun, free activities in the Ferndale area this summer? Don’t worry, there is plenty to keep you and your family having fun in the sun. Here’s just some of the options available this year:
Paddle to Lummi      Stommish Grounds (2295 Lummi View Drive) July 24th-28th

Over 10,000 people and 100 canoes of the Coast Salish tribes are landing at the Stommish Grounds for a weekend of celebration and ceremony. Share in potlach traditional songs, dances and performances as the Lummi people host representatives from tribes stretching from Alaska to Washington. All are welcome for canoe races, music and food.

Whatcom Old Settlers Weekend Pioneer Park July 26th-28th

The oldest tradition in Ferndale, the Pioneer Picnic has been held every year since 1901 and remains an opportunity for neighbors to celebrate as a community. There is the Grand Parade on Sat. July 27th at 11am through Main Street, a classic car show, a 5k run and live music throughout the weekend.

Ferndale Renaissance Faire Pioneer Park July 20-21st

Whether you are a peasant or a prince, journey across land and sea to Pioneer Park for the first annual Ferndale Renaissance Faire. Enjoy belly dancing, soap making, sewing, weaving, fighting demonstrations, a scriptorium, forging, shield making, and an interactive shield wall demonstration. Music, merriment and more can be found for free all weekend long.

Ferndale Street Festival Downtown Ferndale August 23rd-24th

Friday night (6pm-11pm) and then 10am-11pm Saturday, we shut down the streets in downtown Ferndale and fill them with music and fun. With over 120 vendors, a Festival of Fenders Car Show, Kid’s Street with a live kid’s stage, fire trucks, dunk tanks, a bouncy house, crafts, petting zoo and money hunt in the hay for the kids, this festival is not to be missed.

Chalk Art Festival Griffintown Park (5786 2nd Avenue) Sept. 7th

Celebrate the end of summer and have fun in the sun making chalk art. Come down from 10am-2pm to Griffintown Park for this free family event with music and snacks. Multiple “canvasses” will be available for you to make your own chalk art creation.

Explore the City with
“The Great Ferndale Alien Abduction”

Strange UFOs have visited the City during the month of July and left strange symbols in several Ferndale Parks. Gather a team, solve clues and find these strange symbols to score points and win prizes. Additional points may be earned for participating in community events, meeting your neighbors, or helping clean up the City.

All you need to do to play is fill out the scorecard on the back of this newsletter, and turn it in to City Hall by Tuesday, July 23rd.

For more details on this month-long Citywide scavenger hunt, go to

April 30th, 2019 Issue

Work Scheduled to Begin This Year on Thornton Street Overpass

After years of planning, the City will be breaking ground on the Thornton Street Overpass late summer/early fall of 2019. Currently, the City is finalizing the design, securing permits and will go out to bid this summer. Once hired, crews will begin constructing a water line from the Portal Way roundabout and adding earthen material on both sides of the railroad tracks. This material will then settle and form the basis for the approach to the bridge.

“This is the largest project in the City of Ferndale since we built a bridge across the river,” said Project Manager Katy Radder. “Once completed, this will have a dramatic impact on how people move through our city.”

This project will improve and connect Thornton Street, from Malloy Avenue to the roundabout at Portal Way/Second Avenue, via an elevated bridge over the railroad.

The new bridge will provide access between Malloy Avenue and the Portal Way roundabout which is anticipated to become a principal route for the majority of Ferndale residents living on the west side of the City.

In addition to the elevated crossing, Thornton Street will be upgraded to full city standards, including curb, gutter, shoulder, sidewalk and new street lighting within the project limits. Plans also include construction of a new stormwater treatment and detention facility, along with various utility upgrades to the water and stormwater systems.

Construction timing will be more precise once the City selects a contractor, but a project of this magnitude is anticipated to take 2-3 years.

For more information about this project, click here.

Five Ways to Save Water This Summer

All reports point towards it being a scorching hot summer this year which can have a drastic impact on the local water supply. To help ensure that everyone has the water they need throughout the dry season, the City is implementing a water conservation schedule based on street address. Drip irrigation systems, flower and vegetable gardens, potted plants, hanging baskets and newly installed landscaping are all exempt from the restrictions.

Following this schedule will help you save money on your water bill, reduce the impact on our environment and help ensure our water system runs strong throughout the season. But that’s not the only way to save water this summer. Here are some other ideas to get you thinking:

1) Install a rain barrel. Rain barrels are great ways to capture water for use on plants and lawns and they are easy to use. For more information on rain barrels, check out

2) Become a leak detective. Swing by city hall and pick up your free leaky toilet detection kit. A leaky toilet can add up to an expensive utility bill— a little bit of searching can save you a bundle of money.

3) Consider a new nozzle or faucet. A more efficient faucet, showerhead or garden hose nozzle can give you the same pressure with a fraction of the water use. Swing by your favorite Ferndale hardware store and for a few bucks, you can pick up just what you need.

4) Plant native plants. As tempting as those exotic flowers can be, a native plant garden uses less water and is more resistant to those sudden Pacific Northwest weather weirdness. Check out the WA Native Plant Society ( for more details.

5) Gold is the new green for lawns. This summer, consider letting your lawn fade to gold. It will return come Spring and in the meantime, experience the cycle of the seasons as your lawn showcases its golden hues during the summer.

WWU Students Study Ferndale Downtown, Propose Solutions

Western Washington University (in collaboration with the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce and the City of Ferndale) held a visioning workshop for the downtown area in January. WWU has devoted the time and energies of several classes to study the challenges of our community in hopes of bringing some fresh and unique ideas on how to reinvigorate downtown.

The students held a series of listening sessions to receive input from the community related to downtown uses, building design, environmental considerations, transportation options, trails, and more. They will be bringing a final report with all their suggestions to the City in July.

For more information on this project, contact the Community Development Department at (360) 685-2359.

Only Rain Down the Drain

Stormwater runoff in the City of Ferndale does not go to a treatment plant; some of the runoff goes into the ground or into stormwater ponds, but much of the runoff goes directly into our local creeks and rivers. You can help prevent pollution from entering our waters.

  • Pick up trash and pet waste to prevent stormwater pollution
  • Collect water from car washing or pressure washing and route to lawns or landscaping
  • Fix vehicle leaks and clean up spills in the driveway and road
  • Never put anything down the storm drain but rain or snowmelt

For more information visit the Stormwater page by clicking here.

If you have questions or comments, or to report spills and discharges, call 360-685-2357 or email

SCOPE officers 2016

Senior Citizens on Patrol Enhancement (SCOPE)

It’s been nearly 20 years since the inception of the Ferndale Police Department’s Senior Citizens on Patrol Enhancement (SCOPE) program, and we still have one of the dedicated, original volunteers working with us! These men and women are valuable members of the Department, patrolling parking lots for disabled parking violators, performing security checks on vacant homes, operating the radar reader board, and assisting with traffic control and community outreach during special events.

SCOPE volunteers must be between the ages of 55 to 70 and able to volunteer for one shift per week for at least nine months of the year. They must have a valid driver’s license, be willing to be involved in training (initially 12 to 16 hours), have the abilities to perform assigned duties, and pass a fingerprint background check. They are supplied with uniforms, badges and ID cards, but must supply their own black belt and shoes.

If you’re interested in becoming a SCOPE officer, contact Lieutenant Matt Huffman at 360-384-3390 extension 5724 or email

Origins of Griffintown Park

Have you ever wondered how Griffintown Park, the long, skinny park on Second Avenue, got its name?

It once belonged to a Civil War veteran named Augustus Griffin (1826-1909) who sailed up the Nooksack with his wife Harriet and ten year old daughter Jennie to purchase a 400 acre plot.

His plan was to own the land when the railroad came through— one of many get rich quick schemes throughout his colorful life. The area quickly gained the name, “Griffintown”, however he was unable to hold it.

With his health failing, he gave away much of his land holdings to needy families and the railroad. He moved to Bellingham in 1902 where Harriet taught school. For more information about Ferndale’s  unique and colorful history, visit Pioneer Park starting May 15th and take a tour with the Ferndale Heritage Society.

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