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June 5, 2008 Front Page E-mail
BHS Graduation 2008 — Rain Doesn’t Dampen Spirits!
By Brian Addison
Nothing can dampen the spirit of a traditional outdoor Baker High School graduation, and the Class of 2008 proved the point, accepting their diplomas during a sudden springtime downpour Sunday afternoon. Most BHS grads would rather graduate in a rainstorm than march indoors, and the   Class of 2008 Motto can remembered for its' intended meaning and also now, for the stormy Sunday afternoon BHS Graduation June 1st, 2008: "It is not for us to forecast the future, but to shape it. (Antonie De Sainte-Exupery)."

The motto applies to the road to success taken by BHS Class of 2008 Commencement Speaker, BHS graduate Class of 1992, Mingo Vidrio. Vidrio began by talking about the honor of being chosen as the 2008 Commencement Speaker. Vidrio told the graduates that he had not been a professional athlete, had never won a Superbowl or World Series. Instead, Vidrio spoke to the graduates about the obstacles, work and decisions he's made since high school that have helped him fulfill his goals, which have included serving in the US Marines, raising a family, graduating from law school, passing the Bar Exam and recently landing a job as an attorney in Portland.

Rep. Bentz Meets With House Revenue Committee
By Debby Schoeningh
Fuel is the biggest issue facing Oregonians Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-District 60, said Friday after returning from the Senate Finance and House Revenue Committee held in Salem May 29. “We’re one hurricane away from not having any. The price won’t matter — because there just won’t be any.”

He said there are no figures on exactly how much oil is available because it would not be in the best interest of most countries to share this information, but a looming fuel crisis is evident when you reach for your wallet at the gas station. “That’s where it becomes real,” he said.

Bentz said during the Committee session Tom Potiowsky, office of Economic Analysis, projected a flat economy for the rest of 2008 and most of 2009 with a significant increase expected in 2010. He said the assumed rate of inflation was estimated at 1.7-1.8 with a 30 percent probability.

School District Employs New Auditor
by Brian Addison
The Baker School Board has authorized the proposal submitted by John Day accounting firm Oster Professional Group to audit School District 5J's financial records for a fixed cost of $25,300 per year for three years. The Oster Group cost proposal was the lowest priced with Seydel and Associates bidding $27,620 at a three-year fixed cost. Guyer, Lindley, Bailey and Martin had provided the auditing services to the school district for the past 15 years and responded to the request for proposal by bidding $36,050 for a one-year contract.

 Oster Professional Group submitted the lowest priced proposal at $25,300, but offered to provide fewer hours of audit services with the highest proposed per hour cost, according to the Audit Request for Proposals (RFP) Results document. The RFP Results document indicates that Oster Group submitted a proposed cost at $100 per hour agreeing to provide 340 hours of service; Seydel and Associates proposed a per hour cost at $96 with no indication given for estimated hours of service; and Guyer, Lindley, Bailey and Martin proposed to provide the highest number hours of service and the lowest cost at $65 an hour with an offer to provide between 475-550 hours of audit services.

May 29,2008 Front Page E-mail
Memorial Day, A Time To Say Thank You

By Debby Schoeningh

American flags waved in the breeze in a patriotic salute to fallen soldiers at  Mount Hope Cemetery Monday as people gathered to honor those who have died in service to our country.

"For some, Memorial Day may be another day off from work," said Lyle Defrees who spoke at the event. "Or a day at the lake or Flea Market... For others it  may be a time for reflection on why loved ones never made it home. But for all of us, it's a time to say thank you."

Defrees said today is a day for flowers, and tears, and a day to honor all servicemen and women, especially those who gave their lives that we might have freedom.

Community Says Farewell To Oregon Soldier
Cpl. Jessica Ellis — ‘Angel On Earth Without Wings’

By Debby Schoeningh
More than 300 gathered last Thursday at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City to mourn the loss of a daughter, sister, friend and soldier, Cpl. Jessica Ann Ellis.

Ellis, 24, an Army combat medic with the 101st Airborne Division, was killed in action May 11, 2008. She was serving her second term in Iraq when the vehicle she was in encountered an improvised explosive device in Baghdad during a night detail.
A horse drawn hearse carried Jessica through town from Coles Funeral Home to the Cathedral as family and friends walked behind. The Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle team also showed their support carrying flags.

“We are very grateful, we are very proud and thankful that we have young people who are that courageous and will in fact be there when they are most needed… right exactly where she wanted to be,” said Bishop Thomas Connolly as he addressed the crowd.

Historic Baker City Gives Downtown Parking Recommendations

by Brian Addison

Historic Baker City, Inc. (HBC), the organization assigned the task of promoting and developing historic downtown Baker City, submitted their quarterly report, and a recommendation on downtown parking to the Baker City Council Tuesday evening.

HBC outlined a list of their five, "Parking Issues of Interest," with 1) Enforcement; 2) Diagonal parking of First Street; 3) Changing time limits in specific areas; 4) Parking maps; 5) Long-term parking solutions task force.


May 22, 2008 Front Page E-mail
Water Plentiful As Irrigation Season Begins

By Debby Schoeningh

Due to the wet and cold weather, irrigation season was off to a slow start, but the ditches have been cleaned and the water is flowing — a welcome sight in contrast to last year’s drought.

Jeff Colton with the Baker Valley Irrigation District said Dooley Mountain received record snowpack this winter, however a lot of it went into the ground rather than the river. But not so much that it dampened his spirits.

“I’m loving this year,” he said. “It’s by far a lot better already than last year.”

Baker City Manager Holds City Staff Salary Discussions With City Councilor

By Brian Addison

Baker City Councilor Gail Duman met with City Manager Steve Brocato Monday afternoon for a discussion on the city's proposed 2008-09 budget. Duman's main point of concern during the meeting was over the proposed salary increases for the city's non-union represented staff, administration and department directors. The meeting began with Duman calling the proposed salary increases "enormous," while Brocato referred to the increases as "paltry" when accounted for using a macro economic management perspective.

Baker City's proposed budget shows the salary increases for the non-union represented employees. Brocato explained that the city manager has discretion to determine the salary of non-represented staff. Brocato said that there are several factors that go into non-represented city staff salary increases. There is a Cost of Living Adjustment increase of 3-percent, there are Step increases, and traditional raises, according to Brocato.

Council Approves City Budget, Over $300,000 In Increases For 2008-2009

By Brian Addison

The Baker City Budget Committee voted to approve the City of Baker City 2008-09 Budget as submitted by City Manager Steve Brocato and staff. Brocato and Baker City Finance Director Jeanie Dexter guided city councilors and the Budget Committee through the proposed budget with discussion on each department and funding category.

City Manager Brocato handed out a budget summary letter and a two-page Explanation of General Fund Changes listing changes to recurring and nonrecurring budget items. The summary letter is addressed to Mayor Jeff Petry, City Council and the Budget Committee and begins by describing the budget as "the true plan. It dictates where time and money are being spent. True policy flows from the budget process."

May 15, 2008 Front Page E-mail
42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton Visits Baker City
By Brian Addison
Local Democratic leader Peggi Timm excitedly placed calls around town Friday evening announcing that the 42nd President of the United States of America Bill Clinton had confirmed a stop in Baker City along the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign trail.

President William Jefferson Clinton arrived at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon and spoke for almost an hour to a crowd of about 750 people. Timm shared a VIP seat joining President Clinton on the steps of the Baker County Courthouse with Baker City Community Developer Jennifer Watkins. Baker County Commission Chairman Fred Warner Jr. had the honor of introducing President Clinton to the crowd gathered on the Baker County Courthouse east lawn. As President Clinton greeted the crowd he mentioned a tie to Jennifer Watkins’ family; Clinton said that her grandfather had been a great help in his election to Governor of Arkansas.

Baker City Staff And Councilors Comment On Streets, Sewer Pipes, Proclamations And Give Congratulations

By Brian Addison
Near the end of each meeting of the Baker City Council, time is set aside on the agenda for councilors and city staff department heads to make comments. The topics brought up on Tuesday evening ranged from concerns over the equity of street maintenance dollars in the city to the Main Street west alley wastewater line work to congratulations for accomplishments of local students.

Councilor Dennis Dorrah started his comment by saying that he has spoken to people who live on streets that are not paved. “What about us? We pay taxes too. How come there isn’t more street maintenance on our streets?” said Dorrah relaying the questions he’s heard from citizens.

“Do we have any idea if they’re getting equivalent return from their taxes?” Dorrah asked city staff. Dorrah then asked for Public Works records that would indicate the amount of maintenance dollars spent on both paved and gravel streets in the city.

Becker Construction Company Alleges Baker County
Violated Contracting Law

By Brian Addison

Baker County Commissioners received a Letter of Dispute filed by Michael Becker Construction Company against Baker County over the awarding of the contract for the Holcomb Park Comfort Station contract. In the letter, Becker officially protests Baker County’s contracting practices alleging Commissioners violated Oregon state law (ORS 279B.410).

Becker’s complaint alleges that Baker County Commissioners violated the Oregon statute on two separate instances: Becker alleges, “they (Baker Co. Commissioners) attempted to negotiate the bid by using all bidders rather than the low bidder and secondly they did not award the project to the lowest responsive/responsible bidder.”

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