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Slow melt puts pressure on reservoirs, rivers


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Thinking of tubing this summer down the Powder River, Leyala Moleroy, front, and Sarah Gentry sit on a bench outside the Baker County Library and pine for warm weather. The Powder, in common with many other local rivers and streams, is running high because dam operators are having to make room in reservoirs for a glut of snowmelt that is late in arriving because of the chilly spring.
By JAYSON JACOBY
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Jerry Franke isn’t expecting anything like a disaster.

But as each spring day passes, and the white belt of winter refuses to budge from where it snugs across the midriff of the mountains, he grows a tad bit more uneasy.


City Council balks at big sewer rate hike


By TERRI HARBER
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Baker City Councilors aren’t willing to consider a substantial sewer rate increase to pay for wastewater treatment upgrades — at least for now.

The proposed increase hasn’t been determined, but will be best described as “modest,” City Manager Mike Kee and Finance Director Jeanie Dexter said during a special Council work session Tuesday evening.


Phillips perch trapping off to torrid start


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Heavy equipment is needed to haul netted perch from Phillips Reservoir. This photo was taken during last April's operation.
By JAYSON JACOBY

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The day the last trace of ice disappears from Phillips Reservoirs is for anglers a symbol of a fresh start.

For yellow perch it’s just the end.

Of everything.

For the third straight April, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is letting the perch’s penchant for procreation lead legions of the fish to their demise.


Sew happy to help out


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Seventh-graders Makenna Bachman and Katelyn Hensley, right, put their personal touches on T-shirts that will be sent to Japan to show concern for children who survived the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of the country last month. The girls were among volunteers recruited for the project by BMS science teacher Wendy Files.
By CHRIS COLLINS
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When she’s not teaching science to seventh- and eighth-graders at Baker Middle School, Wendy Files enjoys sewing and learning about projects she can create for her two little girls.

To further her hobby, she follows this blog site: Living With Punks. The blogger is Susan, who has three young children of her own and shares patterns, recipes and other craft ideas with like-minded people.

That’s where Files learned about a project aimed at showing concern for the children of Japan, many of whom have lost their homes and family members to the March earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country.

The project involves decorating T-shirts that will be sent to Japan.


City Council pondering raising sewer rates


By TERRI HARBER
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The Baker City Council has scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday to discuss raising sewer rates to pay for major upgrades in the wastewater treatment system.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1655 First St.

Councilors talked about the situation during their regular meeting Tuesday evening.

The most expensive item on the city’s horizon is an estimated $4.8 million project to pipe wastewater from the sewage treatment lagoons just north of town, several miles east to a man-made marsh in Baldock Slough, north of the airport.


Wallowa-Whitman proposes major logging project


By JAYSON JACOBY
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The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is seeking public comments about its proposal to override, for a timber sale in eastern Baker County, a 17-year-old ban on cutting large, live trees.

The forest has finished a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Snow Basin project.

The 26,500-acre project, which calls for commercial logging on about 12,400 acres in the Eagle Creek and Little Eagle Creek areas north of Richland, would be the biggest timber sale on the Wallowa-Whitman in more than a decade.

Snow Basin could result in five separate timber sales, one per year over five years, generating a combined 62 million board-feet of timber, according to the draft EIS.

That’s twice as much timber as the entire Wallowa-Whitman has sold in any single year since 2001.



In case of emergency, do you prefer a phone call, text message or email?


By TERRI HARBER
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Baker County officials will soon unveil an emergency notification system capable of alerting people across the county about floods, fires and other threats by means of phone calls or through a variety of electronic devices.

This “reverse 9-1-1” system should be in partial operation by May 1. County employees will be trained to use it later this month.

Baker County Commissioners on Wednesday voted to hire Emergency Communications Network to install the Code Red system.

A $52,450 grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security grant will pay for more than six years of the service.

“We'll be able to contact two homes or locations, everyone within an entire city limit, or even the entire county,” said Jerry Boyd, Baker County's director of dispatch communications.


Interpretive Center likely will close if feds shut down


By TERRI HARBER
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The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center probably will close temporarily if Congress fails to negotiate a budget agreement to avert a shutdown of the federal government at midnight tonight.

Federal employees are also preparing to start an unpaid leave from their jobs.


Search covers thousands of miles, but no sign of missing couple


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This is the van Albert and Rita Chretien were driving. The license plate is British Columbia, 212-CAV
By JAYSON JACOBY and
CHRIS COLLINS
Baker City Herald

A ground and air search over the past few days that has covered thousands of miles of highways and backroads, and thousands of square miles of remote country in four counties, has not turned up any sign of a Canadian couple last seen March 19 in Baker City.

Albert and Rita Chretien of Penticton, British Columbia, were reported missing March 31 by their children after the couple failed to return from a road trip to Las Vegas.

The Chretiens bought gas and food at a Baker City convenience store about 2:41 p.m. on March 19.

Their presence was confirmed by surveillance video from the Jacksons Food Mart on Campbell Street,


Code enforcement conundrum


By TERRI HARBER
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Some readers might remember visiting a fruit stand in Baker City manned by Bob Bern.

The structure, which used to be visible from 10th and Campbell streets, has long since been removed.

Bern kept the disassembled stand in his yard.

He and his wife, Madge, have kept other things on their property, as well.

Rotting wood. Carpet. Scrap metal.

This accumulation has prompted Shannon Regan, the Baker City Police Department’s code enforcement officer, to make repeated visits to the four westside properties the Berns own.



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