Inside Bellingham Weekly: March 31, 2023

A weekly news roundup from the City of Bellingham

March 31, 2023 - by Janice Keller, Communications Director

See you at the market! Tomorrow’s ringing of the opening bell and traditional toss of the cabbage by Mayor Seth Fleetwood marks the beginning of the Bellingham Farmers Market’s 31st season. Saturday Market festivities begin at 9:45 a.m., April 1, 2023, at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham. Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday, April through the third week of December, the Saturday Market is a place to buy fresh produce and hand-crafted products, enjoy free entertainment, gather with friends and family and celebrate our community. More info on the Bellingham Farmers Market webpage.

Are you prepared? In a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, wildfire or storm, it may take time for first responders to reach you. Learn how you and your neighborhood can be prepared and create emergency plans by attending “Map Your Neighborhood” or “Household Emergency Planning” sessions, offered by the Bellingham Fire Department’s Office of Emergency Management and held at the Central Library. Each free class is offered once a month, drop-in style with no registration required. See the library’s April 2023 events list for more information.

Settlement funds address opioid crisis: The City has opted-in to recent nationwide opioid settlements against three pharmacy chains, CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, and two opioid manufacturers, Allergan and Teva. These settlements, of which the City will receive shares, will require Teva to pay up to $3.34 billion over 13 years, Allergan to pay up to $2.02 billion over 7 years, CVS to pay up to $4.9 billion over 10 years, Walgreens to pay up to $5.52 billion over 15 years, and Walmart to pay up to $2.74 billion in 2023. In addition to monetary settlements, the companies have agreed to other non-monetary requirements and limitations to help address our country’s opioid crisis, including creating a groundbreaking clearinghouse through which they will be required to account for opioid shipments, to detect, stop, and report suspicious opioid orders. The City may receive up to $1.95 million dollars from this most recent settlement, funds that will be used for opioid abatement efforts in our community. This amount is in addition to the approximately $1.95 million the City is scheduled to receive from national opioid settlements in 2021.

Comment on Whatcom Creek water quality report: Whatcom Creek and its freshwater tributaries have high levels of bacteria. Local stakeholders, including the City, have partnered with the Washington State Department of Ecology to address the sources of bacteria pollution and improve water quality. The Whatcom Creek watershed flows through Whatcom County and our City, with 90% of the watershed zoned as urban. Whatcom Creek is fed primarily by Lake Whatcom and empties to the marine waters of Bellingham Bay, with four primary tributaries: Hanna, Fever, Cemetery, and Lincoln creeks. The creek is a popular place for recreation, even though existing bacteria concentrations in the tributaries and lower reach of Whatcom Creek could pose a human health risk from recreational contact in the water. The draft water quality improvement report is available for public review and comment through April 30, 2023. More information on the Ecology website. Learn more about how we monitor our local creeks on the urban streams monitoring program page.

Improving Public Spaces

Bridge inspections: Seasonal City street repair and maintenance continues, with federally required bridge inspections now underway. Working with Whatcom County Public Works certified bridge inspectors and the state Department of Transportation, Bellingham Public Works crews with bridge school training are checking out more than 50 structures – including bridges and culverts under roadways – as part of comprehensive inspection of bridge components, structure, drainage and surfaces. The process, completed every few years, takes three to four months and may conclude with a list of recommended repairs. Please be alert for these crews at work and follow all flagger instructions.

Media Contact

Janice Keller, Communications Director or (360) 778-8115

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