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Battle over Port of Bellingham director; new tax proposal among week's top stories

Here are the top local news stories that ran in The Bellingham Herald last week.

EFFORT TO REINSTALL PORT CHIEF FAILS

Over the protestations of Port of Bellingham Commissioner Mike McAuley and angry shouts from their audience, commissioners Scott Walker and Jim Jorgensen reaffirmed an April 3 decision to force the resignation of Charlie Sheldon as executive director.

Commissioners acted after hearing comments from some of the roughly 100 people who packed their small conference room Tuesday, April 17. Most of them were there to support Sheldon.

Until March 31, Jorgensen had sided with McAuley in support of Sheldon, but Jorgensen turned against the executive after hearing complaints from port staffers. He said he did not think the rifts with Walker and disgruntled staff members could be healed if Sheldon were asked to resume his duties.

JURY FINDS MAN GUILTY IN LYNDEN ATTEMPTED ROBBERY, DRUG DEAL

A jury found Jeremiah Winchester guilty of all but one drug charge in connection with the attempted robbery that resulted in his son's death last fall in Lynden.

After deliberating for just over a day, the Whatcom County Superior Court jury found Winchester guilty of attempted possession of heroin, first-degree attempted robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm, in connection with an attempted drug deal and robbery that ended in a shooting that killed his son, Jesse Winchester.

The jury was deadlocked, however, when it came to his co-defendant, Johnny Arellano, who was facing just the robbery charge. Arellano's attorney, Carl Munson, argued that Arellano had no knowledge that a robbery was being planned. Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder declared a mistrial for Arellano.

WWU STUDENT DEATH RULED SUICIDE

The death of a 19-year-old Western Washington University student who fell eight stories from a dormitory building Monday morning, April 16, was ruled a suicide.

Timothy Crossan, a U.S. citizen from Chêne-Bougeries, Switzerland, landed on concrete in a tennis court area Monday morning after jumping from the top of Nash Hall.

He died at the scene. Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel ruled the death a suicide after a Tuesday morning autopsy.

BELLINGHAM AFFORDABLE HOUSING TAX SOUGHT

Housing advocates are asking the City Council to put a tax measure on the November ballot that would raise money for more affordable housing.

As written now, the housing levy would raise $21 million over seven years to provide shelter to 1,300 households. The bulk of the funds would be spent on building and preserving affordable homes. The proposal also sets aside $4 million for renter and home buyer assistance, and property purchases.

The ballot measure would request a new property tax of 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $6.89 per month for someone with a $227,000 home.

It's expected to first go before the council May 21.

COUNTY BREEDER ACCUSED OF RUNNING PUPPY MILL

A Ferndale man faces more than 100 criminal charges after nearly 50 dogs were removed from his care by the Whatcom Humane Society.

The Humane Society said 48 miniature Australian Shepherd dogs were living in squalid and inhumane conditions in a locked barn on Kenneth Martin Cassell's property on West 40th Drive, near Kickerville and Bay roads.

Cassell denied the charges and said he is a reputable breeder who takes good care of his animals.

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