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A. Lakes road work starting

While U.S. Forest Service officials scramble to find money to repair Baker County roads damaged by flooding earlier this month, contractors are ready to start work on a major forest highway job that has already claimed a share of last year’s $787 billion federal stimulus bill.

Workers from High Desert Aggregate and Paving of Redmond will begin repaving a 10-mile stretch of the Anthony Lakes Highway this week.

Drivers should expect delays of as long as one hour as work continues through the summer.

The 10-mile section includes the Anthony Lakes area.

The project, which includes repaving, chip-sealing and work to reduce rock fall, runs from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest boundary at Gorham Butte Road to the Ladd Canyon Road junction near Grande Ronde Lake.

Crews will fill cracks and apply chip-sealing on about 6fi miles, mostly between Gorham Butte Road and the Van Patten Lake trailhead road. That section is in relatively good shape.


Agency seeks $856,000 to repair local flood damage

Requests for $856,000 in federal cost-share funding have been submitted to help Baker County farmers and ranchers repair irrigation systems and fish screens damaged in recent flooding.

Trent Luschen, manager of the Farm Service Agency in Baker County, said he applied for the money under the Environmental Conservation Program, which pays 75 percent of the cost of repairing head gates, diversions and irrigation ditches and fences, repairing or replacing fish screens, and removing debris and grading, shaping and leveling fields.

“Those are the things we asked for to help farmers and ranchers that were damaged by the flooding,” Luschen said.

Most of the flood damage occurred in the Pine and Eagle valleys in eastern Baker County, but Luschen said some also occurred in Baker Valley.

Congressman Greg Walden said he has received assurances from the head of the Farm Service Agency that fish screen repairs will be covered under the Environmental Conservation Program (ECP), provided additional funding becomes available.

Walden said he sent a letter and followed up with a phone call Thursday to the National Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess.


Baker City man accused of shooting his father

A Baker City man, who is accused of shooting his father twice in the head early Sunday morning, is being held at the Baker County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

John M. Guthrie Jr., 38, of 2323 Third St., was arrested about 6 a.m. Sunday, District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said this morning. Guthrie was scheduled to be arraigned today in Baker County Circuit Court on charges of attempted murder and second-degree assault.


Ontario man dies when mining cave collapses

HUNTINGTON — A 42-year-old Ontario man died Saturday morning when the walls of a mining cave collapsed on him as he was digging inside, according to Oregon State Police.

The incident happened about 8:30 a.m. near the old lime plant along the Burnt River about 40 miles southeast of Baker City, OSP Sr. Trooper Tracy Howard said in a press release. The cave was about 300 yards north of Interstate 84.


3 riders, 2 wheels, 1 family

Baker City Herald

The Henrys are ready to ride in this weekend's Elkhorn Classic Bicycle Race. From left, son David, dad Loren, and son Stephen
On Saturday afternoon, when the riders line up for the fast-paced Gold Rush Criterium stage of the Elkhorn Classic Bicycle Race, you shouldn’t have a problem picking out the three locals.

The Henrys — dad Loren and his sons, David and Stephen — tend to stick out from most any crowd.

“For cyclists, we’re pretty tall,” said David, who stands about 6 feet, 4 inches.

Loren is just a half inch shorter, and Stephen is about 6 feet, 3 inches tall.

All three will be racing in the men’s category 4/5.

And they, along with the other Elkhorn riders, are hoping to see downtown lined with spectators on Saturday.

“I think it helps a lot,” David said. “Last year, you could hear every once in a while, ‘Go David!’ ”

David and Loren, who both live in Baker City, rode the Elkhorn last year; this is Stephen’s first (he lives in Hawaii).

David said he and his dad followed a different training plan this year based on last year’s race.


Money to fix Loop Road could be on the way

Baker City Herald

Congressman Greg Walden is continuing his push to secure federal money to rebuild the flood-damaged Wallowa Mountain Loop Road, and to help Baker County farmers and ranchers fix irrigation networks.

In response to a letter and phone calls from Walden, a Republican who represents Eastern Oregon, officials from the Federal Highway Administration visited the Loop Road on Thursday with U.S. Forest Service representatives.

The Federal Highway Administration officials will help the Forest Service, which manages the Loop Road, to apply for repair money through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) program.

The Forest Service last year allocated as much as $5 million to repave and make other improvements to a 13-mile section of the Loop Road that includes the 500-foot section that was obliterated by North Pine Creek earlier this month.

But Walden said the Forest Service will need another source of money to repair the flood damage.


Motorcycle rally organizers pleased with changes

Baker City Herald

Last weekend’s Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, estimated to have drawn 6,000 riders, was bigger and better than it’s ever been, according to Steve and Eric Folkestad, the event’s organizers.

“The rally was a great success this year,” Steve Folkestad of Portland said in a telephone interview Thursday.

In his conversations with motorcyclists and vendors, 95 percent had nothing but good things to say.

“The negative ones tend to blow their horns louder,” he said, referring to complaints from people who were upset that Main Street was not closed as it has been in past years.

In a telephone interview from Tampa, Fla., were he was attending a business conference Thursday, Eric Folkestad, of Camas, Wash., said he believes some of the concerns expressed by rally participants, community residents and vendors are based on misinformation.


Hurry up and wait

Freeway closure leaves hundreds stranded in Baker

Debris was strewn across the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 near Durkee Tuesday morning after a truck hauling furniture and other household items crashed and spilled the contents from one of its two trailers. The eastbound lanes were closed from about 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Eastbound traffic was stopped first at Baker City, and later at La Grande after hundreds of travelers were stranded in Baker City. (Photo Courtesy Oregon State Police)
About the only thing missing, so far as Jason Coller could tell, was the blizzard.

All the other symbols of a classic Interstate 84 winter closure in Baker City were accounted for Tuesday morning.

• Vehicles parked nose to bumper along Campbell Street

• Delayed travelers perusing their maps, trying to plot an alternate route

• And, inevitably, lots of customers at the Baker Truck Corral, where Coller is the manager

“It’s a little busy,” he said early Tuesday afternoon, not long before the eastbound lanes of the freeway re-opened at 2 p.m. after being closed for about seven hours.

The culprit in this case wasn’t wind-driven snow or freezing rain, but debris from a trailer that crashed into the guardrail near Durkee about 7 a.m.

Kenneth Norlund, 49, of Salt Lake City was driving the commercial truck pulling two trailers, said Trooper Jeff Spencer of the Oregon State Police.

The rear trailer, which was loaded with furniture and other household items owned by a family that was moving, spilled its contents.


Walden spurs state on floods

Officials from the Oregon Division of State Lands are scheduled to survey Baker County flood damage today and potentially streamline the process so farmers and ranchers in the Pine and Eagle valleys can get permits to repair their irrigation networks.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said he called Gov. Ted Kulongoski and other top state officials after listening to concerned residents during a public forum Sunday in Richland.

“I was frustrated to learn the Division of State Lands was not going out until June 23,” Walden said.

Walden, who represents Eastern Oregon, said he asked Kulongoski and other members of the State Land Board, including Secretary of State Kate Brown and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, to summon Division of State Lands staff sooner.

“The governor got right on this and I appreciate his personal attention on it,” Walden said.

The DSL is the agency that issues permits to property owners who need to repair ditches, headgates, fish screens and other items damaged by severe flooding earlier this month in both of the valleys in eastern Baker County.

Walden said he and state Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, along with members of the Baker County Board of Commissioners and other area officials who attended Sunday’s meeting immediately afterward started calling state officials to raise awareness of the deadline facing irrigators.

Crops could be damaged if they don’t get water within seven to 10 days.


School lunch program revived

Thanks to a last-minute grant and Methodist Church volunteers, the Baker School District will begin providing free lunches for Baker County children beginning Monday.

Jean Dean, the Baker School District’s food services cook/manager, announced Tuesday that the district will be offering a summer lunch program after all.

She said the district received a $3,000 grant Monday from the Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon program to allow the district to prepare the meals through the USDA’s National School Lunch program.

“This has enabled us to pull it back together at the very last minute,” Dean said.

All children 18 and younger are eligible for the free meals, which will be served from noon to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the Baker United Methodist Church, at 1919 Second St. Adults can buy meals for $2.50 each. The program will run June 21 through Aug. 19.

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