Fundraisers close to goal for new house for injured Van Zandt resident

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 30, 2012 

Time for a checkup, a follow-up and a heads-up.

Checkup: The "Love Thy Neighbor" concert held Sept. 23 to raise money for a new house for Jerry Bajema drew a smaller crowd than organizers hoped for, but still raised $2,900, thanks to several people who wrote generous checks at the door.

Bajema is the retired Van Zandt bachelor who nearly lost an arm during a chain-saw accident this summer. While doctors in Seattle were putting him back together, neighbors discovered that his old house badly needed repairs, so badly that they decided replacing it was the smart thing to do.

With plenty of help from friends and local businesses, and the willingness of contractor Meshak Drew to oversee the job, Bajema's new house is taking shape and could be ready for occupancy by mid-October.

The foundation, framing, roof, siding and windows are done, the deck is nearly finished, and electrical and plumbing work is finished, said Laurie Lewis, a neighbor who helped organize the concert at Mount Baker High School.

Lewis said supporters have raised most of the estimated $21,000 needed to cover expenses, and are taking a well-deserved break before seeing if a final fundraising push is needed.

People can still donate by depositing checks written to "Jerry Bajema Benefit Account" at any People's Bank branch. They also can donate at any Industrial Credit Union branch by writing a check to "Catherine A. Frye," with the account ending in 577 and with "Home for Jerry" in the memo line. For online updates, see ahomeforjerry.weebly.com.

Follow-up: "Mountain Runners," the wonderfully made local documentary about the history of the Mount Baker Marathon, is doing well on the film festival circuit.

The film, directed by Bellingham's Todd Warger and by Jet City Films founder Brian Young, tells the memorable story of the marathon, which was held 1911 through 1913 and inspired today's Ski to Sea Race.

Warger and Young recently learned their film will be shown in November at the International Mountain and Adventure Film Festival in Graz, Austria, one of the largest such events in Europe.

The film has also been accepted at several festivals for showings in October: the Vancouver International Film Festival, Tacoma Film Festival, Eugene International Film Festival, Mount Hood Film Festival and the Tyrolean Film Festival in Innsbruck, Austria.

Heads-up: Ken Sluys of Bellingham served aboard the USS Enterprise from 1977 to 1980 and wants other veterans with connections to the aircraft carrier to know that their opportunity to see it again is limited. The Navy plans to inactivate the Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, at a ceremony Dec. 1 at Norfolk Naval Station, in Norfolk, Va.

Commissioned in 1961, it's the eighth ship to bear the name Enterprise. More than 100,000 sailors have served aboard, and Sluys figures there may be other former crew members in or near Whatcom County.

Enterprise veterans and their families, plus shipyard workers and other interested people can tour the Enterprise from Nov. 27 through Dec. 1 in Norfolk. However, people must RSVP. For details, go to enterprise.navy.mil.

Reach DEAN KAHN at dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2291.

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