I saw a strange van cruising my neighborhood the other night.
A box the width of the van hung below the front grill, and various electronic devices adorned the roof. I wondered if prowlers had gone high-tech.
Then I saw a name on the van: Infrastructure Management Services. With a name like that, I figured Bellingham Public Works would know what's up. Chad Bedlington, the department's superintendent of maintenance, filled me in.
The city has contracted with IMS, out of Arizona, to use lasers, GPS, cameras and other gizmos to assess the condition of pavement on Bellingham's streets. Lasers in the low-hanging box record data about pavement as the van rolls along, and a camera records images to match.
Other cameras on the van aren't in play because Bellingham isn't paying IMS to shoot panoramic footage.
Along with checking out the pavement, IMS will assess the best ways to repair problems, help the city pick a pavement-management software system, insert local data into that system, and train city workers on the new system. Bellingham is paying up to $114,426 for the work over two years.
In the past, city workers walked and drove city streets to check the pavement themselves.
"It would take us six weeks a year for three years," Bedlington said.
'CLOVER' SPROUTS FOURTH VOLUME
The fourth and newest volume of "Clover, A Literary Rag," a journal published in Bellingham, is on sale and it's growing stronger all the time.
The new volume has 211 pages of stories, poems and other literary works, with more than 50 contributors, of whom almost half are from Whatcom County. Other contributors include Oregon's poet laureate, Alaska's writer laureate, and Washington's inaugural poet laureate, Samuel Green.
"It really is a nice collection," said Mary Gillilan, editor in chief. "I'm overwhelmed by how many fine writers we have."
The volume sells for $16 at Village Books in Fairhaven; at Threshold Documents, 810 N. State St.; and at the Independent Writers' Studio in the Clover Building, 203 W. Holly St., suite 306.
You also can sign up to receive two volumes for $30. For details, see independentwritersstudio.com or send an email to email@example.com.
BELLINGHAM FISHER WRITES OF LIFE AND DEATH AT SEA
I wrote an article in October about a Bellingham couple, Tele Aadsen and Joel Brady-Power, who fish for salmon in Alaska. A month earlier, they were northwest of Sitka, Alaska, when they heard reports that two men on another fishing boat were missing.
One of the men was found on a beach. Later, Aadsen and Brady-Power found the second man alive in the water after he had spent 26 hours floating in a plastic fish bin without a survival suit.
Reports of the men's recovery made national news, and Aadsen's blog account of the incident a few days later added extra, compelling detail that I included in my article.
Now, Aadsen has followed up with a well-written introspective article published by National Fisherman magazine. In the piece, she explores the cloud of danger and death that hangs over open-sea fishers, and recalls a moment eight years ago when she feared her sweetheart Joel went down with his boat.
While the world rightly celebrates rescues, and pauses with sadness when rescuers don't reach someone in time, fishers hunker down in grief or relief, depending on the outcome, yet remain drawn to a life that depends on the sea, which provides a living at the same time it can bring death.
You can read Aadsen's article, "After the man in the tote," in its entirely online this month. Go to nationalfisherman.com, then click on "magazine" at the top to access the January 2013 issue.
To follow Aadsen's blog, go to nerkasalmon.wordpress.com.
Contact Dean Kahn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2291.
Reach DEAN KAHN at email@example.com or call 715-2291.