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Wallowa-Whitman extends comment period for Road Plan maps

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has extended the public comment period for the forest's maps showing existing roads and trails.

The maps, released earlier this year, are part of the Wallowa-Whitman's controversial effort to adopt a new Travel Management Plan, which likely will prohibit motorized vehicles (except snowmobiles) from some roads where vehicles are allowed now.

The public now has until March 31, 2015, to submit comments on the maps the Wallowa-Whitman unveiled in August of this year.

Initially the period during which the public can review the maps and provide corrections was slated to end during November. 

Westbound freeway lanes re-open

Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald — Trucks fill the parking lot at Baker Truck Corral this morning as the westbound lanes of Interstate 84 are closed between Ontario and Pendleton due to icy conditions from Pendleton west.

The westbound lanes of Interstate 84 are throughout the Blue Mountains, from Ontario to Pendleton. The closure started at La Grande and was extended to Baker City, and then Ontario, after trucks filled the available parking spaces in La Grande and Baker City.

Eastbound lanes from La Grande to Baker City and to Ontario remain open.

Highway 30 from Baker to North Powder, and Highway 237 from North Powder to Union and La Grande, also are open in both directions.

Eastbound lanes of I-84 are closed 5 miles west of Boardman at Milepost 159. Due to extreme icy conditions other highways are closed in Morrow and Umatilla counties, including all of I-82 between I-84 and the Washington border, and Ore. Highway 11 from Pendleton to the Washington border.

Road conditions are extremely hazardous in Morrow and Umatilla County and travelers should postpone travel in this area until conditions improve.

Updates at www.tripcheck.com

City puts liens on parcels

Property owners have failed to pay the city for costs it incurred to cut weeds or otherwise clean their parcel to meet city standards

By Joshua Dillen

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Baker City Councilors passed a resolution Tuesday night to declare 16 properties in default in payment of costs incurred from weed and property abatement.

An ordinance allows the city to bill property owners for the cost of weed and/or property abatement performed by the city or its contractor. The city has done that on all 16 properties.

But the Council has to pass a resolution before before liens can be recorded on the properties.

Weeding Books

Project creates more space for fiction titles at Baker Public Library

Kathy Orr / Baker City Herald Carmen Wickam, co-assistant director at the Baker County Library, sorts through books to see whether they should stay on the shelves or be “retired” to create more space.

By Jayson Jacoby

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Not a single dandelion sprouts from the shelves at the Baker County Library, yet weeding among these rows is a constant, and vital, task.

Although Diana Pearson, the public services librarian, concedes that when it comes to books, pruning probably is the more appropriate verb.

Weeding, the term library professionals use, implies that the people doing the work have the same disdain for their targets as a homeowner has for a patch of crabgrass that invades his well-tended turf.

Cold snaps records

Low temperatures Sunday and today set daily records, but November’s chilliest spell, in 1955, remains intact

By Jayson Jacoby

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If you think it’s cold now you ought to have been in Baker in November 1955.

For those residents who were here then, the current cold snap might conjure frigid memories of that month nearly six decades ago.

Although the cold spell that started late last week is the most extreme for any November since 1985, in its early stages it didn’t break any records.

The impediment was 1955.

The arctic air that enveloped Baker County in November of that year set a standard for chill that remains unchallenged.

Frigid Food Drive

Scouts Shrug Off The Chill To Benefit Local Food Banks

Kathy Orr / Baker City Herald Club Scouts from Pack 452, Dyson Robb, front, and Thomas Smithson, middle, and Mike Webb take in bags of food donated to local food banks on Saturday.

By Joshua Dillen

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The sub-freezing weather did not stop Scouts of all kinds from completing their mission of compassion and charity Saturday.

Girl, Boy and Cub Scouts, along with youth groups from local churches, braved the icy cold to collect food from local residents to fill area food banks in the annual Scouting for Food Drive.

At 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, parents, pack and troop leaders arrived at the County Courthouse to strategize about picking up food that local residents left on their porches across town.

Battle of the Bucks

submitted photo. Bucks battle to get free of the wire that tangles them together on South Rock Creek Lane, about six miles outside Haines.

Local contractor John Fuzi witnessed two mule deer bucks--a four by four and a large forked horn--locked in a battle royale on his way to work.

  The confusing part was that they seemed to be attached at the antlers.

  "I've seen a few bizarre things, but that one takes the cake," Fuzi said.  "That was quite the rodeo."

  As he approached the strange sight, Fuzi realized there was a huge mass of electric fence wire that secured the two together by their antlers. A tree branch and other debris were also entangled throughout their horns at one point during the ordeal.

First snow of the season followed by winter cold

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald A light, dry snow makes clearing sidewalks a bit easier. Caleb Andrews uses a leaf blower in front of his workplace at Sears in Baker City. The predicted snowstorm hit Baker County Thursday morning. More of the same is expected through the weekend.

Since yesterday morning,  4 to 6 inches of light fluffy snow have accumulated in and around Baker City.

AccuWeather and the National Weather Service both predict the high temperatures here to be in the mid-20s and the lows to be near zero to the low teens through Tuesday. 

Baker City Public Works Director Michelle Owen said outside water pipes should be insulated and faucets covered. 

It’s a good idea to open cabinets inside  to allow warm air circulation around the pipes as well.

She also said running water overnight can help.

“The stream of water should be no wider than the diameter of a pencil,” Owen said.

The weather also kept Oregon State Police officers busy. They responded to nearly a dozen freeway crashes throughout the day Thursday because of the ice and snow covering the highway in Baker County. 

No injuries were reported and both lanes of travel remained open throughout the day. 

Former Extension building to be torn down

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Once the home of Baker County Parole & Probation and Baker County Weed Control, the former OSU Extension Service building on Grove Street is being taken down.
By Chris Collins

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The green metal building that has stood at 2610 Grove St. for about a half century will be coming down soon as part of a land exchange between Baker County and the National Guard Armory.

Road Department employees will be dismantling the building and using the materials to construct a new building on the Road Department grounds, said Fred Warner Jr., Baker County Commission chair.

The Grove Street site will be turned over to the armory in exchange for 1.2 acres across the street from the Baker County Event Center at 2600 East St. The property is currently used as part of the National Guard’s motor pool compound. 

Honoring veterans

Braced for the wintry wind Tuesday, John Atkinson listens intently as speaker Jeff Heiser addresses those who came to observe Veterans Day outside the Baker County Courthouse. (S. John Collins/Baker City Herald)

By Joshua Dillen

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A crowd of about 50 people endured the chilly morning air to hear Jeff Heiser honor Veterans at the Baker County Courthouse Tuesday morning.

Heiser, 57, is a Navy veteran who has devoted 13 years of his life to active and reserve military service.

He traveled from his fair weather home in Florida to speak about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide and addiction among veterans.

Since his arrival last week, Heiser has given 13 presentations to Eastern Oregonians.

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

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