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'Bombshell' dropped on Baker Valley potato growers


Mark Ward, a local potato farmer and president of the Malheur Potato Bargaining Association, which represents growers in Baker and Malheur counties, said officials from Heinz, which buys most of the potatoes grown in Baker Valley, told him last week that the company won’t be buying potatoes from the valley starting this year.

This could have a major effect on one of the most important local crops, valued at about $12 million per year.


Stain Scrubbing

Polishing Geiser Grand Hotel’s Stained Glass Ceiling


Read more...
S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Everardo Arenas, Geiser Grand Hotel employee, carefully removes one of 96 stained-glass panels from the dining room ceiling Wednesday.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

The stained glass ceiling above the Geiser Grand Hotel’s Palm Court is once again sparkling in the sunshine.

Work on the polishing project began Jan. 20 and should be finished this week.

The ceiling is about 864 square feet.


Drug busts need time, luck

Police, D.A. talk about recent rash of meth arrests


By Chris Collins

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Last week’s arrests of 13 people on charges of dealing or using methamphetamine did not come about because there has been a huge increase in the drug’s prevalence in the community, law enforcement officials say.

Instead, it was more the result of the right people coming together at the right time to make the cases.

And it required patience, says District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff and Police Chief Wyn Lohner.

Search warrants served at Baker City homes on Jan. 19 and again on Jan. 22 were put together over the past two months with evidence gained during an undercover  operation involving a confidential informant.


Demographic quirk makes Haines, other small towns ineligible for vital federal grants

Officials are optimistic, though, that the problem can be fixed and that their towns will be eligible 


A change in how the federal government calculates the percentage of households in a city with low or moderate incomes has at least temporarily made several small local towns, including Haines and Richland, ineligible for federal Community Development Block Grants, a crucial source of money for major projects such as water and sewer system repairs or replacements.

Haines City Recorder Valerie Russell said that, as an example, a federal survey showed that the percentage of Haines households at low or moderate income levels dropped from 2013 to 2014 from 55.5 percent to 39.7 percent. To be eligible for Block Grants, cities must have at least 51 percent of households at low or moderate incomes.


Take Up The Fight

Baker County’s Newest Rural Fire Protection Association Has First Meeting


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S. John Collins / Baker City Herald file photo A rangeland firefighter mops up hot spots during the 2012 Sardine Creek fire east of Baker City. The blaze burned in the area that’s part of the newly formed Lookout-Glasgow Rangeland Protection Association.

By Joshua Dillen

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KEATING — Baker County’s newest rural fire protection group had its first meeting Monday night at the Keating Fire Hall.

A group of local ranchers and landowners in the Keating Valley and Little Lookout Mountain area formed the Lookout-Glasgow Rangeland Protection Association (LGRPA) to be a first line of defense against fires on their rangelands in the dry sagebrush country east of Baker City.


Miners talk about future

Eastern Oregon Mining and Aggregate Development summit in Baker City


By Jayson Jacoby

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Mining plays a major role in Baker County’s distant past, and its future might not be as bleak as the industry’s relatively moribund present suggests.

The prospect for a mining revival here and elsewhere in Eastern Oregon was a key theme during a five-hour summit that brought miners, legislators, economists and others to Baker City Tuesday afternoon.


Hells Canyon Road to reopen Friday


OXBOW — Idaho Power Co. plans to reopen Hells Canyon Road at 9 a.m. Friday, after partial removal of a rock slide that blocked the road north of Hells Canyon Park last week.

A single lane will be open, with flaggers on hand to guide vehicles through the slide area, Brad Bowlin, Idaho Power Co. spokesman, stated in a press release. Travelers should expect delays, and are urged to use extreme caution in the canyon, especially in the slide area, he said.

No one was injured in the slide, which happened Jan. 20 about three miles north of Hells Canyon Park on the Idaho side of the Snake River.

The slide was about 60 yards long and included numerous large boulders. Crews worked through the weekend to clear the road. Some of the boulders on the road were so large, they had to be blasted to make them small enough to remove, Bowlin said.


Clinic provides options

Marian Taylor, 71, gets connected to chemotherapy by Riley Hall, RN, during her first treatment at the Bootsma Clinic inside St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City. (S. John Collins/Baker City Herald)

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

As Marian Taylor settles back in the cushy chair, Jennifer Herrman asks a question totally unrelated to cancer treatment.

“What’s your favorite color?”Herrman asks.

Caught off guard, Taylor pauses, then answers “blue.”

Herrman leaves and soon returns bearing a bundle of blue — a handmade quilt donated by local quilters that Taylor can use throughout her chemotherapy treatments, then take home when she’s finished.

See more in Monday's issue of the Baker City Herald. 


Guard unit to train in Mojave


By Pat Caldwell

For the Baker City Herald

This summer the men and women who fill out the roster of Eastern Oregon’s largest Army National Guard outfit will once again deploy to a desert location to fulfill their annual training requirement.

This year, though, the 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment will not journey to its usual Annual Training location. Instead of the familiar, high desert landscape south of Boise, the battalion will deploy to another kind of desert — The Mojave.

See more in Monday's issue of the Baker City Herald. 


County officials discuss vets services


By Joshua Dillen

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Baker County Veterans Services Officer Rick Gloria gave a report to the Baker County commissioners  concerning his department Wednesday.

He spoke about veterans claims management software VetraSpec.

The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) is using the software to expedite claims by veterans. The online system allows veterans service officers to access information easier and more expeditiously for the veterans they serve.

“Right now we have 107 veterans enrolled in VetraSpec,” Gloria said.

His goal is to get the rest of the veterans in Baker County enrolled with the software to help with claims management. Gloria said his office has more than 800 files of active veterans. He said there are approximately 2,000 veterans in the county or about 8 percent of the county’s population.


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