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Why we're thankful

The weather forecast calls for a seasonably cool Thanksgiving in Baker City, with afternoon temperatures in the low to mid-40s.

But even if the midwinter chill from earlier this month returns for the holiday, it will still be a day to warm the heart.

And fill the stomach.

The reality of Thanksgiving and other holidays is that the very reason we rejoice — being with those we love — can be the source of great sorrow for those who must, for whatever reason, spend these days alone.

Except in Baker City, on this Thanksgiving, no one ought to be in that predicament who would prefer to share the holiday with others.

We are thankful to live in a community where the toughest choice for those who won’t be gathering with family on Thursday is deciding which free Thanksgiving dinner to attend. There are three:

• Elks Lodge, 1896 Second St., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

• South Baker Intermediate School, 1285 Third St., 3 p.m., hosted by Calvary Baptist Church

• American Legion Post 41, 2129 Second St., 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

None of these events would happen without dedicated volunteers.

On a day when most of us relish the unique embrace of our families, these selfless people give their time, and themselves, to make sure others who aren’t as fortunate can feel that same special thrill of a warm meal taken among friends, and with smiles and laughter all around.

We give them our thanks.

Forest ills need a faster fix

The announcement that forests are sickly in the Blue Mountains and elsewhere in the drier sections of the Northwest hardly qualifies as news.

The problems — unnatural epidemics of insects and disease, massive wildfires — are as blatant as a bolt of lightning, and have been so for at least a few decades.

But a recent study brings a fresh, albeit troubling, perspective to the problem.

Sage grouse help from.... Salem? Yep

Baker County won’t go it alone in trying to convince federal officials that local sage grouse populations don’t need to be added to the list of threatened or endangered species.

Our ally comes from an unexpected place.


Peacock Court: Problem is process

The problem with the Baker School Board naming the basketball court at Baker High School “Peacock Court” to honor retired Principal Jerry Peacock isn’t the person the board chose to recognize.

Peacock was  a positive influence on thousands of students during more than 20 years as principal.

The problem is the process.

Or, rather, the lack of a process.

Although the board didn’t make the decision to name the court in secret, neither did the board formally solicit residents’ opinions before approving the naming in late May.

Cautious optimism for forests

There’s no shortage of talk about how Northeastern Oregon’s forests are ailing, and how the remedy requires an increase in logging.

Trouble is, it’s easy to hear all these conversations because the chain saws aren’t drowning out all the words.

This needs to change.

Protecting kids: Talk, don’t text

Protecting your children from online sexual predators is a tougher task than it used to be.

The key word is mobility.

A decade ago, in most cases the only portal through which these Internet cretins could get access to your kids was a desktop or laptop computer.

These devices are easier to monitor than the smartphones and tablets that are teens’ preferred communication tools today.

Schools panic alarm needs work

The Baker School District’s emergency alarm system is a great addition to local schools, one with the potential to save lives should someone threaten a school.

But as is the case with much new technology, the system has been plagued by glitches.

Specifically, a pair of accidental activations of the system — one on Sept. 24, one on Oct. 23 — at Brooklyn Primary School brought a full contingent of police and other emergency responders to the school, which houses about 450 kids from kindergarten through third grade.

Practice drills are worthwhile, of course, but neither of the events at Brooklyn was planned.

Election ’14: Our choices

The Nov. 4 election ballot is a lengthy one, and we’ve published our endorsements for several races and measures over the past month or so.

Our preferences:

• Dennis Richardson for Oregon governor

• Monica Wehby for U.S. Senate

• Greg Walden for U.S. House of Representatives

• Cliff Bentz for Oregon House of Representatives

• Measure 88 (drivers cards without requiring proof of legal residence in Oregon): NO

• Measure 90 (top two candidates, regardless of party, advance from primary election to general election): NO

• Measure 91 (legalizing recreational use of marijuana for ages 21 and over): NO

• Measure 92 (labeling foods containing GMOs): YES

• Baker City measures 1-59 and 1-60 (authorizing sale of two forest parcels near Salmon Creek): YES on both

Yes on city’s two land sales

The latter two items on the Nov. 4 ballot for Baker City voters could almost escape a voter’s attention who has plowed through local, state and federal races and seven statewide measures.

But these two Measures  — 1-59 and 1-60 — could bring a welcome influx of cash to Baker City’s water department.

We recommend a “yes” vote on both measures.

Voter approval would allow the city to sell two parcels of forest land along Salmon Creek, about eight miles west of Baker City near the city’s watershed.

(The city charter requires voter approval before the city sells real property worth $5,000 or more.)

The city acquired the property decades ago but doesn’t need the land for any aspect of its water distribution system. The county assessor’s office lists the real market value of one parcel at $160,560, the other at $25,230.

This is an opportune time to sell the parcels and put the money in the water department budget. The city will be spending about $3 million to disinfect its drinking water with UV light, a process that protects against cryptosporidium, the microscopic parasite that contaminated the city’s water during the summer of 2013 and sickened hundreds of people.

Moreover, selling the property will get the land back on the property tax rolls, generating revenue for public services in Baker County.

Ebola and travel

We don’t think there’s any reason to get hysterical about Ebola in the U.S.

The virus is frightening, but there’s no reason to believe Ebola, which is far less infectious than, say, the cold or flu viruses, will ever spread widely in this country.

That said, we’re perplexed by the resistance of federal officials to restrict air travel between the U.S. and the west African countries where Ebola is prevalent.

Some of the explanations for this resistance seem nonsensical.

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