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Football field trip folly


We’re not sure what “pro-social” activities are, or are supposed to be.

What we do know is that juveniles who are on probation for such crimes as burglary and meth possession shouldn’t be getting free trips to college football games, no matter what you call it.

On Sept. 13, four employees from Washington County’s Juvenile Department escorted 12 youth offenders to Eugene’s Autzen Stadium, where they watched the University of Oregon play the University of Wyoming.


Paying to visit public lands


One advantage to living in Baker County, where about half of our 2 million acres are publicly owned, is that we can go to a lot of places without having to pay an admission fee.

But the federal government, which manages most of the county’s public acreage, seems to have an insatiable appetite for our dollars.

A current and troubling example is a bill in Congress we were alerted to by a fine watchdog organization, the Western Slope No Fee Coalition of Colorado.


Keeping an eye on the goats


Baker County is the best place in Oregon to see mountain goats in their natural habitat.

But perhaps it’s become too good, in at least one place.

That’s Twin Lakes, the scenic, and understandably popular, spot in the Elkhorns west of Baker City.

The goats that congregate around the lakes are so blasé about the presence of people, including campers, that they’ve become at the least a nuisance.


A serious threat


The most important thing about Tuesday’s bomb threat at Baker Middle School is that it was only a threat.

No bomb.

No injuries.

Not even much class time lost, as the school’s approximately 260 seventh- and eighth-graders were in their seats by 8:30 a.m., just 35 minutes after the normal start.

The second most important aspect of this event is that the person apparently responsible, a 13-year-old boy who’s a student at BMS, was identified.


Councilors should all be involved


Baker City Council members Dennis Dorrah, Roger Coles and Richard Langrell let down their constituents last week.

The trio didn’t attend a special City Council meeting during which councilors evaluated City Manager Mike Kee’s performance over the past year.

This is a vital part of the Council’s job.

Kee oversees the city’s day-to-day operations. He’s responsible for the city’s 70 or so employees.


Don’t let fire guard down yet


We’ll concede that a fire probably would have felt pleasantly warm these past few chilly mornings if you were camping or otherwise outdoors.

But although dawns with temperatures in the 30s remind us that autumn is approaching, summer and its specter of wildfires has not yet gone away.

If we can maintain our diligence for a few more weeks, though, chances are good that we’ll get through another fire season without the devastation that other places in Oregon and other western states have recently endured.


Vote no on Measure 90


Ballot Measure 90 on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot would help to solve one problem we have the way many of Oregon’s primary elections are conducted.

But the measure would create an even greater problem in general elections, which is why we urge Oregonians to reject it this fall.

Measure 90 would create a “top two” primary, similar to the system both Washington and California use.

All voters could cast a ballot in the primary. That’s not the case now in some cases, including this spring’s two Baker County Commissioner races. Because all four candidates in those two races are Republicans, only registered Republicans, who make up about 46 percent of the county’s electorate, voted.


Let voters decide on pot shops


We agree with Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner that the City Council should start discussing the regulation of marijuana stores, even though the city’s current ban on medical marijuana outlets continues until May 1, 2015.

But we also believe that in the end this matter has such significant potential ramifications that it should be decided by the city’s voters, not just its seven elected councilors.

Recent history in Oregon suggests that the public and the politicians don’t always agree on marijuana issues.

In 2010 the state’s voters rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries.


Focus on forest, not just plans


Disdain for the U.S. Forest Service’s draft plan for managing the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur national forests is widespread.

Commissioners from 10 Eastern Oregon counties, including Baker, don’t much like it.

Local residents have expressed their concerns in letters to the editor and other forums.

Most recently U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, the Oregon Republican whose congressional district includes the three Blue Mountains national forests, summarized some of the most common complaints in a letter to Regional Forester Jim Peña. Walden wrote that the three national forests “are in poor condition and dire need of proper management that will restore forest health, reduce catastrophic wildfire, and sustain the economies in these rural communities. Unfortunately, it seems that this plan falls short of meeting these needs of the forest and the communities.”

We understand why people are worried.

We agree that the forest plan, which will replace management plans for the three national forests that date to 1990, should emphasize more strongly the need to do more logging and other work, including prescribed burning, to reduce the risk of large blazes.


Summer of reading


Summer vacation is perhaps the most hallowed and beloved of traditions for kids.

But it’s not all fun and games.

While they’re going to the beach and the swimming pool and the campground, students tend to forget some of what they learned during the previous school year.

We’re not suggesting summer vacation be canceled.

But we’re awfully glad Baker students have the option of REAL — the Read Everyday And Learn program.


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