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June 24, 2010 Front Page E-mail

Elkhorn Classic Rolls Into Town

By Jason Smith

The Elkhorn Classic returned to Baker City June 18-20. Participants came from all directions and walks of life to take part in the exhausting four-stage event.
On Friday, the riders began their trek at Baker High School for stage 1, the Oregon Trail Road Race. This stage of the event consisted of 72.9 miles and 6,515 feet of climbing.

On Saturday Stage 2, the Pleasant Valley Individual Time Trial was held. It consisted of 11.3 miles out and back. That wasn’t the only event of the day though. Riders still had the third stage to tackle, the Gold Rush Criterium. This was a 1 km L-shaped course staged in downtown Baker City.

Duman Sworn In To Fill Council Seat, City Discusses Police Department Cuts, Shifting Economic Development To County

By Mark Bogart

Gail Duman was selected by a unanimous vote on Tuesday night to fill the open seat on the Baker City Council.  However, from that point on, the council and city staff had a difficult time following the numbers and agreeing on a budget resolution for 2010-2011. The group finally adjourned its meeting, agreeing to try again Wednesday, with a revised version proposed by Councilor Aletha Bonebrake.

Before getting into the regular agenda items, the council heard public comments from Carol Tone, a military widow, who described the cemetery conditions as “deplorable.” Although especially concerned about the maintenance of the veterans’ section, she said that families expected perpetual care to mean “365 days a year” for the graves of their loved ones. She said graves need to be leveled and markers straightened. 

The city is spending about $10,000 on cemetery improvements including leveling sunken graves, fixing the mausoleum, and installing a kiosk, according to Public Works Director Michelle Owen.  Tone and Bonebrake said they thought the money was for work on the graves and markers, not the other structures.  Owen said she would provide a report to Tone and the council.

School District Faces Possibility Of More Budget Cuts

By Eden Taylor

The Baker School District 5J Board adopted the 2010-2011 Budget that was recommended by the Budget Committee with the provision that it will probably be changed.  Just after the Budget Committee approved the budget, Salem let every department know they should reduce their budgets by 9 percent.  So, the District doesn’t know the final amount of their allotment.

At the regular School Board Meeting on June 15, Finance Officer Doug Dalton presented the board members with the worset-case scenario.  If indeed the District has to cut another hole in their expenditures, Dalton has a plan.  The District would again look at a four-day school week as well as cuts in several departments. Besides cutting two days from the school year, the District would have to cut another 6.5 FTE (full time employee equivalent).

Each principal submitted paperwork that showed the impact of further cuts in each area. 

June 17, 2010 Front Page E-mail


Contact Becky Fitzpatrick - 541-524-2033
Planner-Baker City, Oregon. Salary: $3,637-$4,214 DOQ plus benefits. Min.
Qual.: graduation from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor¹s
and/or Masters degree in urban planning, landscape architecture,
architecture, geography, community development, or engineering. Any
combination of education or experience equivalent to graduation from an
accredited college or university with a degree or major course work in
planning or associated fields may be accepted. Closing date: 5:00 pm June
24, 2010. Complete application packet on web; or call
(541) 524-2033 or Baker City Employment Dept. 1575 Dewey, (541) 523-6331.
EEO employer.

I-84 Open Following Tuesday Morning Traffic Crashes
Interstate 84 east of Baker City is open following a couple traffic crashes, one of which involved a commercial vehicle transporting household furnishings and other property.  The eastbound lanes were closed about seven hours to allow for removal of debris and vehicles.

According to Oregon State Police Trooper Jeff Spencer, on June 15 at approximately 7 a.m. a commercial truck pulling two trailers, one of which was loaded with household furnishings and property, was driven by Kenneth Norlund, 49, of Salt Lake City, Utah eastbound in a highway construction zone on Interstate 84 near milepost 324.  The truck and trailers reportedly drifted to the right onto soft gravel and hit a guardrail, damaging about 140 feet of railing and splitting open the side of the rear trailer spilling its contents.  The eastbound lanes were blocked by the spilled contents, damaged guardrail and vehicles.  The investigation is continuing into this first crash.

Recent Flooding Discussed At Richland Town Hall

By Tami Waldron

On Sunday evening, the community at large, Pine and Eagle Valleys were invited to come to a Town Hall meeting at the Richland Grange to meet with State Rep. Cliff Bentz and Congressman  Greg Walden. Those present also included Wallowa Whitman Forest Supervisor Steve Ellis, Baker County Emergency Manager Mark Bennett,  Baker County Roadmaster Ken Helgerson and Lori Owens with the Soil and Conservation District. 

Dick Pederson, Mayor of Richland, opened the meeting and made introductions. The destruction caused from the recent flooding was discussed.  Eagle Valley received damage, but not to the extent of Pine Valley. Jay Sly read a long list of all of the culverts, fish screens and bridges located in the area and their condition.  On a three-page long list of ditches in the area, only three to five of the ditches  were considered to be in good shape, all others had either been destroyed, damaged, or were no longer in existence. Many of the creeks and ditches took on so much water that it eroded the ground around them, so  the water is 5 feet below the headgates at irrigation boxes.

Construction On Leo Adler Parkway Under Way

by Mark Bogart

In spite of wet weather and a broken water line, work on the extension of the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway is moving ahead. This is the last section of the path, filling in the gap between Madison to Washington Street. The path continues its route, mostly along the Powder River, through downtown Baker City. Although a bit behind schedule, the project should be completed in October, according to Assistant City Manager Jennifer Watkins.

Michelle Owens, the city’s public works director, said that the path is “roughed in.” Two pedestrian bridges have been built off-site and will be installed later this summer.  Paving of the new section will be done in late July or early August.

June 10, 2010 Front Page E-mail

Rain Causes Flooding And Road Closures
Due to heavy rains, Forest Road 39 (Wallowa Mountain Loop Road), a popular summer route between Halfway and Joseph was closed late last week by flooding in North Pine Creek.

A Wallowa-Whitman engineer flew the route on Saturday and reported five places where at least half the road width is washed away. In one 500 foot section, the entire width of the road is gone. 

There is no by-pass. Forest Road 66 (Fish Lake Road), which at times has been used as a way around closures on Road 39, was also heavily damaged by high water and is impassible.  Road 39 is closed to entry at the junction of Highway 86 near Halfway and north to the junction of Forest Road 66.

Flooding In Pine and Eagle Valleys

By Tammy Waldron
Recent rains have caused flooding and road closures in the area.
In Eagle Valley, the creek had turned into a raging river.  Folks like Jim and Salina Church had a lake surrounding their home. Stephanie Brown captured a picture of a cow, up to its chest in water. That cow definitely had the look of "if you can read my mind, you know exactly what I am thinking."

In the low areas the Forsea ranch got part of that raging water, as did the Clemons.  And with that water comes mud, and lots of it.

In Halfway, the bridge went out on the Holbrook Spur just off of the old Tarter Place on the highway.  It is not only out, but gone.

Council Selects Gail Duman To Fill Andrew Bryan’s Position

By Mark Bogart
Former Baker City Councilor Gail Duman will be returning to the council, pending a qualification formality.  The council voted to use the results in the last City Council election to determine a replacement for former Councilor Andrew Bryan, who resigned recently.  By choosing this process, the council indirectly selected Duman, who finished fifth in the election for four open seats.

All that remains in making the decision final is for City Manager Steve Bogart to certify that Duman is a “qualified elector” as stipulated in the City Charter.  Duman has already informed Mayor Dennis Dorrah that she still wants the position.  Dorrah and fellow council members Beverly Calder, Aletha Bonebrake, and Clair Button voted in favor of the system to fill the vacancy, and will presumably make Duman’s appointment official at the June 22 council meeting.

Bogart summarized three options used to deal with council vacancies in the past, explaining that the City Charter doesn’t direct how the choice is made, only that vacancies will be filled by a majority of the City Council. Bogart discouraged leaving the position vacant as one council had done in the past, saying this seemed inconsistent with the intent of the charter and could present problems in reaching a quorum in future meetings.

June 3, 2010 Front Page E-mail

BHS Class Of 2010 — Oh The Places They Will Go!

By Eden Taylor

Amid darkening clouds and a pesky breeze 118 students graduated from Baker High School on Sunday, May 30, in Baker Memorial Stadium. The students marched in behind a faculty contingent to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance,” played by BHS band members.  The faculty members formed two lines for the graduates to walk through as the teachers honored the students. 

Senior members of the Bel Canto Choir sang an endearing A’capella rendition of “The National Anthem,” as the large crowd stood to honor America.

The audience and graduates were then welcomed by 2010-2011 ASB President Chelsea McVay.  She then introduced the first speaker, Taralynn Taylor, the salutatorian of the class of 2010.  Taralynn is the daughter of Tim and Eden Taylor.

City Councilor Bryan Resigns

By Mark Bogart

Andrew Bryan has resigned from his position on the Baker City Council.  Bryan sent a one-sentence email to the City and to local newspapers to inform them of his resignation but gave no reasons for his decision.

The vacancy on the Council will be filled by a vote of the remaining six councilors, according to the City Charter.  However, the other details of the process are yet to be determined, according to Mayor Dennis Dorrah. 

At the next council meeting, on June 8, City Manager Steve Bogart will explain past methods used to fill council vacancies; then the council will select a process, Dorrah said. One method, selecting the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes in the last election, would allow the decision to be made during that meeting. Former Councilor Gail Duman would be selected using that format. Another method mentioned by Dorrah is to take applications, then choose from the applicants.

Budget Board Approves Amended Budget

By Mark Bogart

Last week a list of additional cuts for the Baker City general fund budget was approved by a seven-to-six vote of the Baker City Budget Board.  This week, two attempts at compromise were considered before the budget was approved.
Budget Board Vice-Chair Alan Blair got little support in his attempt to bring the sides together.  He worked from last week’s cut list, proposed by Chairman Randy Daugherty, and suggested smaller amounts in most cases.  He asked the group to consider a $110,000 reduction for the police department instead of the $150,000 cut approved last week.

Next, Blair proposed putting back $40,000 of the $105,000 cut from community and economic development.  Because the development efforts are done in collaboration with Baker County, he and City Manager Steve Bogart believed the elimination of all of the city’s contribution would risk losing the city’s involvement in development projects.

Governor Appoints Aletha Bonebrake To State Library Board
Salem — Governor Kulongoski has appointed Aletha Bonebrake of Baker City to the State Library Board of Trustees. She will replace Doug Henrichs of Milton-Freewater who will retire from the Board in July after serving two four-year terms. Her appointment was confirmed by the Oregon Senate on June 26.

Bonebrake is a retired librarian who has been a leader in the Oregon library community for many years. She was the highly-successful director of the Baker County Library District from 1985 to 2007. The Library was recently named a runner-up for the Library Journal Best Small Library in America award. She also served as President of the Oregon Library Association in 2006-07, and is still active in Oregon Library Association as a member of the Legislative Committee.

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