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Rolling pieces of American history

Laura Hurley of Vancouver, Wash., says she dresses in the attire common to the period when the big 1918 Cadillac cruised the roads of America. Hurley arrived at the Quail Ridge Golf Course with her husband, Frank, not shown, for lunch Tuesday along with car club members in 31 other classic old cars. Behind her is friend Joyce Knepper of Portland. Hurley said she considers herself and others as “caretakers of the old cars.”
By Devan Schwartz

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Take a look around Baker City this week and you might notice a few special guests. They aren’t hard to spot — there’s about 90 of them. And they’re driving cars from before World War II.

Listen to those horns awooga, watch the sun glint off lacquered fenders, smell the leather and rubber of these well-loved and well-restored vehicles.

Or should we call them horseless carriages? Which isn’t to be flip or to revisit the parlance of their times — it’s the name of the group.

Climate change: Taking it personal

By Terri Harber

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Dr. Wendy Ring and her husband, Michael Shapiro, were pedaling a tandem bicycle through Baker City on Monday afternoon. They came to talk about the weather. 

Theirs wasn’t a friendly little chat about pleasantly warm summer days, however. The couple wanted to discuss global climate change and its effects on people’s health. 

The couple began their cross-country bicycle trip in Eugene earlier this month. They intend to reach Washington, D.C., in September. Ring wants to return to work as a family doctor in Eureka, Calif., by October.

Physicians “have one foot in the science world and the other foot in the people’s world,” Ring said. “Doctors can help people try to understand what climate change really means to them."

Man charged in fatal crash

By Jayson Jacoby

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A Baker City man has been charged with manslaughter for a May crash on Highway 7 that killed a Pendleton woman.

Derrick A. Coates, 24, was arrested just after midnight Saturday morning and taken to the Baker County Jail. Bail was set at $75,000. Coates was scheduled to be arraigned at 1:15 p.m. today.

Coates is charged with two felonies — second-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault — in the May 28 crash that killed Leta Louise Currey, 46.

Second-degree manslaughter is a Measure 11 crime in Oregon; if convicted on that charge, Coates would be sentenced to a minimum of 75 months in prison.

One final ride

Caleb Johnson competed in the 2007 Baker City Bull Riding Blowout.
By Devan Schwartz

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This weekend, a Baker City native returns home for one final bull ride.

“I shattered my knee a year ago, and I decided my career was over,” said Caleb Johnson.

Riding a bull at the time, Johnson was thrown to the ground, where his knee buckled in the wrong direction. 

He broke his tibial plateau in 11 places, destroying the smooth surface which syncs against the femur bone.

“I know I’m done for good — but I wanted to do one more ride,” said Johnson, who is the son of Dave and Cathy Johnson of Baker City.

That ride will be Saturday’s Baker City Bull Riding Blowout at the Fairgrounds. It starts at 6 p.m.

County backs logging plan

By Jayson Jacoby

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If environmental groups file suit to stop a proposed timber sale in eastern Baker County, they might have company in the courtroom.

But on the opposite side of the aisle.

“If that happens (a suit is filed), I personally want to be there when they make a case before a judge,” said Fred Warner Jr., chairman of the Baker County Board of Commissioners.

The potential legal intrigue has to do with the Snow Basin project on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Forest officials announced this month that later this summer they intend to offer to mills the first of five proposed timber sales.

The Snow Basin project covers about 28,500 acres in the southern Wallowa Mountains.

Travel plan meetings to be announced soon

By Jayson Jacoby

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The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest will soon announce a schedule of public meetings regarding the forest’s controversial plan to ban motor vehicles from many roads.

Forest officials will announce, “on or about Aug. 1,” a schedule for meetings that will take place later this summer, said Matt Burks, public affairs officer for the Wallowa-Whitman.

That announcement will include several other matters related to the Travel Management Plan, Burks said:


Assessing the loss

Delbert Stephens farms southwest of North Powder.
By Devan Schwartz

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The morning of Saturday, July 15 brought a two-prong hail storm to portions of the North Powder Valley and the Bridgeport area. Although many in the area were spared so much as a single hailstone, local farmers saw their wheat and potato fields thrashed by these white pellets varying in size from peas to golf balls, according to Mark Bennett, Baker County’s planning director.

Delbert Stephens, who farms near Haines, watched the strip-like hail storm sweep down from the Elkhorn Mountains. It reached the potato fields he and Jason Williams lease from Allen and Dale Bingham.

On Tuesday morning, Stephens dug through the shredded leaves, the flattened stalks and the wet soil.

“Without the leaves there’s  no photosynthesis,” he said.

Knight claims school district violated state law

By Chris Collins

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Baker School Board member Kyle Knight has filed a second complaint against the school district with the Oregon Department of Justice.

In a letter dated July 3, Knight asks the state Attorney General to consider if the district violated Oregon law by approving a revised salary schedule for district administrators “without the full authorization or authority of the District Board of Directors.”

The law states: “All contracts of the school district must be approved by the district school board before an order can be drawn for payment. If a contract is made without the authority of the district school board, the individual making such contract shall be personally liable."

School board chair retained

By Chris Collins

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 Tuesday’s Baker School Board meeting was short, but it was not sweet.

Director Kyle Knight locked horns with three of his fellow board members over district management issues.

Tuesday’s dissension started when Knight and his fellow director Jim Longwell voted against the reappointment of Lynne Burroughs as board chair and Andrew Bryan as vice chair.

Burroughs and Bryan were re-elected to the positions on a 3-2 vote with Burroughs, Bryan and director Mark Henderson voting in favor of the nominations. Bryan participated in the meeting via video conference.

The turmoil then continued as Knight questioned past actions of  Superintendent Walt Wegner and Doug Dalton, the district’s chief financial officer.

Hearts to Hearts

Members of the Bingham family talk with Lindsey, 8, who is awaiting a heart transplant. Lindsey’s dad, Jason Bingham, is at right with daughter Megan, 10. Lindsey’s mom, Stacy, at left, holds Lindsey’s younger brother, Gage, who recently had a pacemaker installed.
By Markian Hawryluk

WesCom News Service

Stacy and Jason Bingham have been here before. 

Six years ago, it was their oldest daughter, Sierra, now 12, lying in the bed at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., waiting for a heart transplant.

Now it’s her younger sister, Lindsey, 8, in the cardiovascular intensive care unit on the very same floor, kept alive by a type of artificial heart until a donor heart becomes available. For a while, their brother Gage, 3, was in the room next door, his heart beating irregularly. And tests have revealed that the Bingham’s other two children, Megan, 10, and Hunter, 5, have heart abnormalities as well.

There is a possibility that all five of the Bingham children will need heart transplants.

If that happens, it would likely be the most heart transplants ever for a single family, and a sign of the remarkable progress that has been made in keeping children with failing hearts alive.

For the Binghams, who live in North Powder, it represents a lifetime of waiting — waiting for donor hearts, waiting for test results, waiting for the next biopsy to rule out organ rejection. Contemplating this many transplants at once is too overwhelming. They must focus on one child, one transplant, one crisis at a time.

“They’re not all going to need transplants at the same time,” Stacy, an obstetrics nurse, said pragmatically. “Whoever is the sickest gets the most attention."

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