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Judge dismisses some charges in Cole case


By CHRIS COLLINS
Baker City Herald

A Umatilla County judge on Tuesday dismissed four counts of third-degree sexual abuse against former Baker County Commission Chair Brian Cole.

But Judge Garry Reynolds of Pendleton declined to dismiss two counts charging Cole with furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Cole, 48, is scheduled to go to trial on those charges, both Class A misdemeanors, Monday in Baker County Circuit Court, 1995 Third St.

The trial is set to start at 9 a.m.


Baker blasts Ontario, returns to Class 4A semifinals


By JAYSON JACOBY
Baker City Herald

Baker needed all of six minutes Saturday afternoon to transform Ontario from dangerous rival into, well, cannon fodder.

Jerry Corn, who supplies the big gun that thunderclaps every time the Bulldogs score a touchdown, barely had time to repack the blackpowder, so rapid was Baker’s third-quarter onslaught at chilly Bulldog Memorial Stadium.

During that six-minute span Baker turned a close game into a blowout by scoring four touchdowns, three of which were sparked by an interception.

The final was 59-26.


Community Christmas tree puts up a fight


By LISA BRITTON
Baker City Herald

The cutting of this year’s Community Christmas Tree seemed pretty routine — until the truck supporting the tree’s weight tipped until only one wheel touched the street.

This year’s tree, cut from the yard of Christine Whiting on Ninth Drive, is a tall one, but no one seemed to anticipate its weight.

Until the truck started to lean.



Karate attracts a crowd

By RUSSELL VINEYARD
Baker City Herald

Forty-two students signed up for the YMCA’s karate class — about 30 more than instructor Betty Peacock anticipated when the class started in September.

“I was expecting 10 or 12 kids. I thought I would be lucky to have 10 or 12 kids,” she said.

The week before the class started 22 kids had enrolled.

“I got there, saw all the kids and thought, ‘What happened between Friday and today?’ ” she said.

The class meets Tuesday and Thursday nights at 5 p.m. Kids ages 4 to 15 show up to learn self-defense, get some exercise and have their minds challenged.

The class is meeting in the gymnasium at the Mormon Church on Hughes Lane. Peacock said it was difficult to meet on a basketball court versus the YMCA.

“Without our mirrors it is hard to see what the instructors are doing,” she said. “We have to stand facing them and mirror their movements.”


Staff Sgt. salutes veterans of all generations

By RUSSELL VINEYARD
Baker City Herald

On Thursday, a gathering of about 50 people met at the Baker County Courthouse to honor U.S. veterans.

Staff Sgt. Mary Armstrong from the Headquarters Company of the 3-116 Cavalry Regiment in La Grande spoke on behalf of the members of her unit that are currently deployed to Iraq.

“I reflected on the importance of this day,” she said. “The importance of honoring those who have served and those who continue to serve.”

To her, and in her earliest memory, a veteran is the World War II and the Korean War veterans.

“The older gentleman, who stands respectfully, often saluting or removing his cap when the flag passes in a parade or during the National Anthem at a ball game or other public event,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong served one tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. She said she was coming close to the end of her own military career, and because of that, a new image of veterans was becoming clear to her.


City Council seeking comments about Charter

By RUSSELL VINEYARD
Baker City Herald

The Baker City Council is asking for citizen feedback about Charter Communications.

But before discussing business at Wednesday’s regular city council session, Councilor Gail Duman asked councilors and attendees to take a moment of silence in observance of the many Baker County veterans, including the ones heading to Iraq.

“With the holiday season coming up, it is hard for the families of those who are gone,” she said.

Charter Communications has asked for an extension to the franchise agreement currently held with the city.

A franchise agreement grants Charter and other public utilities the right to put in cables and work in the city’s right of way. Most other Oregon cities have this same agreement.

Also, in exchange for letting the company use the city’s right of way, the company provides free service to City Hall, the fire department and the police department.


Wyden talks jobs, Ash Grove

By RUSSELL VINEYARD
Baker City Herald

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) held a town hall meeting at the Baker City Armory on Tuesday.

“The election is over. Now is the time we have a lot of work to do, especially with the economy,” Wyden said.

Wyden said he assisted in creating a bill which, if passed, will help create more than 2 million new jobs nationwide.

Wyden also took a few minutes to talk about the situation with the Ash Grove Cement plant near Durkee.

The plant recently spent about $20 million to upgrade their mercury filtering system. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that it hasn’t been enough to meet environmental standards. A law lawsuit was filed on Monday against the EPA to allow for a new ruling.


Wish come true: Coach the BSU Broncos

Stephen Kinsey, 12, of San Antonio, includes trip to Baker City in his dream weekend


By LISA BRITTON
Baker City Herald

Stephen Kinsey has talked so much about his Make-A-Wish dream to coach the Boise State Broncos that by Sunday night he wasn’t talking much.

But he still smiles — and proudly wears a bright blue Boise State jacket, which goes along with his new BSU bedding and a helmet autographed by the team and all sorts of other orange and blue mementos.

Kinsey, 12, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma on Dec. 17, 2009. He still faces three years of chemotherapy.

But this last weekend he wasn’t a cancer patient — he was a coach of the No. 4 football team in the country.

The Kinsey family lives in San Antonio, Texas, but part of their Make-A-Wish weekend included a trip Sunday to Baker City.


Ash Grove files suit against EPA’s ruling


By RUSSELL VINEYARD
Baker City Herald

The Ash Grove Cement Co. is looking for a judicial ruling on the mercury emissions at the plant near Durkee.

Ash Grove officials have filed suit today against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling on the National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C.

Curtis Lesslie, Ash Grove’s vice president, said in a press release issued today that the limits the EPA created for mercury emissions are too low and not based on available technology.

In July, Ash Grove’s Durkee plant finished the installation of a new $20 million mercury filtering system. According to Lesslie, this is the best-known system in the world and has reduced emissions by about 90 percent.

The EPA rule would require the plant to reduce emissions by 97 percent.


The care and feeding of artists


By LISA BRITTON
Baker City Herald

You can help open the world of art to children and adults in Baker County for a $15 ticket — and you get art and food in return.

The first-ever Feed the Arts fundraiser at Crossroads Carnegie Art Center will support the Heart to Hand Scholarship Fund, which offers financial help with class costs to children and adults.

“We hope it raises awareness that we have these dollars available,” said Ginger Savage, Crossroads director.


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