Category Archives: Burlington

While they’re off duty: Jesse McCarty

Another installment in our ongoing While they’re off duty series, in which we talk to city staff about their favorite books.  This time, we talked with Jesse McCarty about his work with the city and a series of books he recently enjoyed.

My role in the city is the IT Technical Assistant, which covers a broad list of technology support related responsibilities. I provide desktop support for the city staff, prepare new computers for deployment and use on the city’s network, set up and install the new computers in departments throughout the city, work with our Systems Administrator to maintain the city’s server infrastructure, and many other tasks related to technology.

I have lived in the Skagit Valley since I was five years old. My wife and I celebrated our sixth Anniversary in August, shortly after celebrating our son’s first birthday earlier in the month. Our little one is a big ball of energy: walking everywhere and exploring everything he can. My family is my greatest adventure and I love to spend my time with them, especially doing outdoor activities.

0310257670A book series I recently enjoyed was Terri Blackstock’s Restoration Series. The series came highly recommended by my wife; Terri Blackstock is her favorite author. In the first book of the series, Last Light, a catastrophic global event destroys everything electronic, rendering everything from aircraft to televisions useless and plunging everyone into an age with no electricity. The series’ main characters are a family in Alabama which is now thrust into new realities.  In the books, they need to adjust and learn to live without the conveniences we all take for granted, all the while relearning to live out their faith and share their now extremely limited resources.

The Restoration books are suspenseful page turners that are tough to put down. As one who works with technology for a living, I see how our modern culture is over-saturated with technology.  In many ways, I believe we over-use and depend on technology to a point that we miss the best parts of life. Terri Blackstock’s Restoration books provide some thought-provoking scenarios in a world without all the digital distractions.

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While they’re off duty: Bryan Harrison

Another installment in our occasional While they’re off duty series, in which we talk to City of Burlington staff and the books they love.  This week we’re featuring Bryan Harrison, the Burlington city administrator.

I was born and raised in Michigan, graduated from the University of Washington, and have lived in Washington State for thirty four years.    Prior to our move to Burlington two years ago, my family and I lived in South Bend on the Washington coast for more than twenty years.9780061671784

Last July my family and I had the opportunity to visit Michigan and show the kids where their dad grew up.  While there, I perused the used book section of my favorite childhood bookstore (the Michigan State University Bookstore) and purchased an enjoyable book written by Michael Zadoorian titled The Leisure Seeker.

The Leisure Seeker tells the story of John and Ella Robina, a long married elderly couple, one suffering from advanced dementia and the other from terminal cancer, that embark on an “against medical advice” adventure across America in an old RV.    In addition to being an easy and engaging summer read, this book is filled with adventure, and sparked more than one family conversation about complex health care issues and end of life care decisions.    All this, plus a somewhat shocking and thought-provoking ending!

I don’t know whether I enjoyed this book because I read it in my home town, because we were on vacation, because I purchased it on sale from my favorite childhood bookstore, because of the book itself, or, most likely, all of the above.   Regardless, The Leisure Seeker proved to be a quick, enjoyable and thought-provoking summer read.

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Why are we called Burlington, anyway?

Our library was contacted recently by Tim Johnson of Vermont’s Burlington Free Press who was trying to trace the naming of both his and our Burlington.  His research tells us that according to an “unofficial ranking by the U.S. Census Bureau, Burlington is the 38th most common place name in the United States, with a total of 34. (Union is No. 1, with 118, and Washington [is] No. 2, with 96.)”2012_1HistPostcards_Thibert4cropt2

Thanks to Tim, we now know a little more about how we came to be Burlington. For more of his story click here to see his article, which conveys the fascinating and complicated mysteries of this common place name.

To answer Mr Johnson, we told him about an account by Blanche Joyce Wallace in the book Skagit Memories: Stories of the Settlement Years (Skagit County Historical Society, 1979).  Wallace relates that Burlington was named by Thomas Soules, who arrived in the area in 1889 just as Washington was becoming a State.   Further documentation has not yet been found, except that Mr. Soules was apparently born in Buffalo NY (according to a 1923 obituary in the Seattle Times) and found his way out here via Canada.  For our Genealogists and perhaps the Skagit River Journal, it would be interesting to track a little more.  We’re glad to help here at the library!

-Karen

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While they’re off duty: Christi Kinney

For out continuing While they’re off duty series, we talked to Christi Kinney, the city’s Recreation Coordinator, about a book that meant a lot to her:

christi As the Recreation Coordinator for the City of Burlington, my job is to provide recreational and leisure activities, community events, and programs for the citizens of Burlington and outlying areas. I’m lucky enough to network and partner with several local service clubs, the Burlington-Edison School District, the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, and various community groups and business.

I have lived in the BE School District my whole life, attended Edison Elementary and am a proud BE grad. I have been married to my husband Kris for 20 years, and have four children: two currently attend BESD, and two have graduated from BEHS. We are lucky enough to live on an acre in the country, where we have five chickens and one grumpy rooster; a petite tabby cat named Ella; a Jack Russell named Mary; and a 14 month-old 90-pound coonhound/black lab monster named Rosie, who is spoiled rotten.

Last year, my daughter recommended I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  The book tells the story of a 1100 mile solo hike the author took at age twenty-six.  The hike came at a key point in her life: her mother had died, her marriage was destroyed, and her family had scattered.  As the back of the book says, “She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than ‘an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.’ But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.”  Wild really changed my way of thinking, and I started asking myself “what am I waiting for?”

Around Wild, by Cheryl Strayedthe same time, I found a quote that really resonated with me: “If you teach, you need to LIVE what you teach.”  Being a Recreation Coordinator I realized I needed to RECREATE more!  This past year, hiking has become a favorite activity of mine, especially sharing the trails with my family and friends. We also enjoy camping, hosting BBQs, watching movies, and recently, Settlers of Catan!

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When they’re off duty: Scott Thomas

Scott ThomasI am the city attorney for the City of Burlington, and I have served in that capacity since 2004.  As city attorney, I am responsible for representing the city in all court proceedings brought by or against the city.  I also provide legal advice to the mayor, city council, and city staff.  I have been a lawyer for 20 years; prior to going to law school, I worked as an architect in the Midwest, where I grew up.  I have a wife and 3 kids, and my oldest, the only other male in my household, is going off to college this fall.  While the males have always been outnumbered, the hormonal balance is shifting dramatically in my home.

My parents, who came of age during the great depression, recently moved closer to be near their grandkids and we get together frequently.  I have always been interested to hear Dad tell stories of the time he and my uncle spent stationed in England during World War II, and Mom’s life on the farm at the same time.  IMarge-Piercy-Gone-to-Soldiers just started reading Marge Piercy’s Gone to Soldiers, which is a novel primarily about home life during that time.  The novel follows several main characters as they live their lives, both in the United States and in Europe.  It’s not a typical blood-and-guts war novel, but more off-the-battlefield fare.  It also does not explicitly lionize the men and women who grew up during the depression and were thrust into WWII, as, for example, Tom Brokaw did in The Greatest Generation.  But the book still has the same effect, if only because it shows how the young characters came of age.

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When they’re off duty…

This month, the blog is starting a new series: when they’re off duty.  Each Tuesday, we’ll profile a different city employee, telling you not only about what they do while they’re on the clock, but also about the books they love to read when they’re done for the day.  Today’s post is by the mayor of Burlington himself, Steve Sexton:

Photo - Mayor Sexton

I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska and have lived in Western Washington since 1985. My wife and I have been married for 23 years and have four children ages 15 to 5.

As Mayor of the City of Burlington, I am responsible for managing city staff, managing the city budget, and implementing policies adopted by the City Council. I preside over City Council meetings, and spend a lot of time listening to our residents and business people to make sure the city is meeting their needs.bad luck and trouble

In my free time I enjoy reading a variety of books, but lately have been reading a lot of suspense fiction.  I have just finished reading the last of the 17 Jack Reacher books by Lee Child. I enjoy his character Jack Reacher: a man with an expansive skill set that he puts to use to help those in need. Even though he may have other pressing business, he makes sure justice is delivered, before moving on in a strangely nomadic way.  Our library has all 17 of these books available, with number 18 on its way soon!

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We’ve come a long way, but!

2012_1HistPostcards_Thibert4cropt

Click here for some new ideas for old Burlington: City of Burlington TAP Report Final

The City of Burlington is in the process of defining goals, setting direction, and finding strategies for smart growth and economic development.  With a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, the city contracted with a Technical Assistance Panel from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to develop a set of guidelines.  ULI’s review included input from the Envision Skagit 2020 Initiative, and from the community during open public meetings.  The recommendations for conscious community development by the City of Burlington are linked to the pdf report above.  Businesses, shoppers, residents and property owners are encouraged to continue to participate where they can to help Burlington evolve into an even more convenient, walkable, livable, safe sustainable mixed use community.

Situated at one end of Burlington’s Historic District, the library (along with Maiben Park) will continue to be a great resource and destination in our future, livable community.

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Skagit Bridge Collapse… then and now.

While the I-5 bridge collapse has certainly caused unprecedented frustration as drivers struggle to find their own alternate routes, it was not the first Skagit River bridge to collapse.  I was digging around in our old newspaper clippings, and found a piece from the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times about a deadly railroad bridge collapse in 1903.

A grainy, black and white newspaper photograph showing the Skagit River strewn with debris.  In the corner of the photograph, a steam locomotive is half submerged in the river. A crowd of people is gathered, watching the scene.

A photograph that accompanied the Courier-Times article, showing the locomotive (right) being fished out of the Skagit River after the railroad bridge collapse.

According to Jack Healey, whose two cousins were eyewitnesses of the disaster:

The bridge at that time was a wooden truss span.  Built of timbers but thoroughly supported by long and heavy iron bolts set vertically in iron plates alow and aloft to give the whole structure necessary tension and structural strength.  A short time before the wreck […] a log car was derailed on the bridge and the moving logs displaced some of these important bolts and footings.  A repair crew was sent out to put things in order and keep traffic moving.

[Bridge watchman] Dan Healy didn’t like the looks of things since it was his job to signal the trains across.  After the north-bound passenger train had crossed, Dan […] said he could see that the bridge was now definitely out of line.  Then [engineer] Hetherington came down from the north and stopped his freight train at the north approach to the bridge.  He blew four evenly spaced blasts on his whistle, asking for a crossing signal.

According to the paper, this led to an argument between Dan Healey and a railroad official (other accounts say that the argument was with a “construction man”) about whether the bridge was safe to cross.  At the end of the argument, Healey had lost his job, and the other man swung the lantern, telling Hetherington that the bridge would hold [1].

The Burlington Journal reported:

The engine had barely reached the south end of the bridge when the crash came, and the entire south bent of the bridge went down carrying with it four cars and the engine.  Besides the engineer and fireman in the cab of the engine was the head-breakman, Pat McConnehaugn, who managed to escape through the cab window.

The engineer and the fireman were not so lucky, both losing their lives in the collapse. The Journal also noted that the railroad bridge was not down long:

The work of reconstruction has been going forward as rapidly as possible, and by Monday [January 26, 9 days after the collapse,] it is claimed that the bridge will be safe for all trains [2].

Moving back to more modern times,  WSDOT has released a video of the temporary I-5 bridge construction process.  Check it out:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pmaYikWdfY&rel=0]

-Jane

[1]  Healey, J. (1963, January 25). Local man tells of tragic train wreck of 60 years ago. Courier Times [Sedro-Woolley], p. 1?.  Ask for help finding it in our Burlington Local History File; its call number is LHF030.
[2] (1903, January 23). Terrible disaster. Burlington Journal, p. 1. You can find this in the library’s microfilm collection; ask at the desk if you want to see it.

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February events at your library

 

Here’s a link to our calendar of programs for February.  The Winter Adult Reading Months program continues—turn in those books reviews for your chance to win a Kindle Fire—and the WARM program this month is “Get Your Hands on Groundbreaking Technology,” February 16.  Come in and play with our e-readers and tablets, or brings yours in to get your questions answered.  We’ll do our best.  😉

Another program that starts this month is Talk Time.  Tell your friends who are learning English about this one, it’s a great opportunity to practice their skills and increase confidence.

And for the teens, a Valentine’s Nail Art workshop!   And of course our usual great schedule of reading-readiness education for babies in laps, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Thanks to our wonderful Friends of the Library (which you can join!), all of our programs are offered to anyone at no charge.

Also, please remember we’re closed February 18 in honor of President’s Day.

–Mary Beth

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WA State Voter’s Guide

Well, the ballots are in the mail.  If you’re looking for some input as to how to vote, here’s a nifty resource: the Living Voters Guide.

The idea is to create a sort of online town hall.  Each of the eight ballot measures for Washington state are listed, and people are invited to write down their reasons for their pro or con stance.  Fact-checking is provided by Seattle Public Library, so if you’re doubtful as to a claim made by someone else, you can ask a librarian to check on it for you.  *

It’s a free, nonpartisan service, and says it may include local measures soon.  A unique way to listen to others’ reasoning and to proclaim your own stance.  Try it, and tell us what you think of it in the comments!

*  The site says, To ask a librarian to check the facts of a claim on the Living Voters Guide, click the “Ask a Librarian” button at the bottom of each post. Librarians will respond to each request within 48 hours. We will assign each claim a status of “accurate,” “questionable,” or “unverifiable” and will post a response with further information and the sources used to evaluate the claim.

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