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Council to discuss replacing Bryan

The Baker City Council’s Tuesday meeting includes a review of policies for replacing Councilor Andrew Bryan, as well as a resignation letter from Don Chance as the city’s contract planning director.

Bryan resigned from the City Council May 28, and Chance submitted a letter of resignation dated June 1 stating he had completed the primary projects he and his company, Confluence Planning Services, were hired to do and that he felt the “city should pare back to a basic permit function in the planning department to conserve resources.”

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1655 First St.


A passel of Porsches pulls into Baker City

These shiny cars can go fast — but the drivers don’t push their Porsches to the max.

“We never go over the speed limit — you can quote me on that,” Gary Groover of Portland said with a grin.

Groover is a member of the Oregon Region Porsche Club of America, and on Friday 37 of these cars pulled into Baker City for the first night of their four-day “NW Passage” tour.

They started in the Gorge, and took back roads all the way to Baker.

“As long as they were twisty, we found ’em,” Groover said.


Floods worsen in Pine, Eagle valleys

As many as 40 homes were either flooded or isolated by floodwaters in Eagle and Pine valleys Friday, sections of several roads were closed, and at least two Baker County road bridges were destroyed as heavy rain continued to pummel the Panhandle.

"It's unbelievable the amout of water that's running down there," said Mark Bennett, the county's emergency manager.

 No injuries have been reported, Bennett said.

Crews from the county road department, the Oregon Department of Transportation, other agencies and in some places local residents using small tractors worked all day Friday to divert rising water and repair flood damage, Bennett said.

 Saturday's predicted break in the weather — the National Weather Service forecasts only a slight chance of showers — should help workers.

Some of the most severe flooding Friday happened in Pine Valley.

One county bridge over Pine Creek was demolished, as was a second bridge that crosses Clear Creek, a main tributary of Pine Creek.

An estimated 10 homes were isolated when a section of the Clear Creek Road washed out, Bennett said.

County Roadmaster Ken Helgerson and other road department workers were building a temporary road to access those homes Saturday, Bennett said.

On Highway 86, ODOT crews were trying to save a section just downstream from the North Pine Creek crossing, an area that has sustained heavy damage in previous floods.

The road to Cornucopia is closed, as are many other forest roads leading to the Eagle Creek area and the southern Wallowa Mountains.

Nearer to Baker City, the Anthony Lakes Highway, Forest Road 73, was closed at the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest boundary.

In Halfway, officials received permission from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to pump treated wastewater from the city's sewage lagoons, after floodwaters inundated the lagoons, Bennett said.

Slaughterhouse Road, which runs east from Halfway, was closed due to high water from nearby Clear Creek.

Bennett said he and Fred Warner Jr., chairman of the county board of commissioners, were driving to Pine Valley Saturday morning to assess damage.

Workers put out hundreds of sandbags on Friday. Bennett said Triple C Redi-Mix of Baker City donated the sand.

More rain is forecast on Sunday, although amounts are expected to be lighter than during the two storms earlier this week.


Eagle Creek shows its talons

Rain, melting snow push creek over its banks and into pastures and hayfields just west of Richland

Mib Dailey, in tractor, said the water reached midway on the truck doors at the highest stage of flooding. Dailey and his son, Shondo, got the ranch truck to high ground as water continued to recede Thursday. Jacque Dailey said the water began to rise sometime after 10 p.m. The dogs started barking at 12:25 a.m., she said. The Daileys spent long hours getting their dogs, cats, floating ATVs and other equipment to any place safe. The flood water rose to about an inch short of their trailer door, Jacque said.(Baker City Herald/S.John Collins)
Renece Forsea could hardly sleep Wednesday night, what with the rumble of boulders and logs tumbling down Eagle Creek not far from her bedroom.

“It’s pretty ugly,” was Forsea’s assessment Thursday morning.

On Wednesday the creek, fed by a combination of torrential rain and fast-melting snow in the nearby Wallowa Mountains, breached its banks just west of Richland, about 42 miles east of Baker City.

Renece’s husband, Dan Forsea, said that in his experience this week’s flood is exceeded only by one in 1964.

“It’s not quite that bad, but it’s close,” he said. “This old girl (Eagle Creek) has got a mind of her own, and she likes to wander.”

Dan Forsea said he had not heard of any homes being flooded, although at least one family, Jim and Salina Church, had to evacuate their home due to high water.

The National Weather Service in Boise issued a flash flood watch for Baker County that’s in effect through Friday.

A second storm that arrived Thursday night brought more rain that continued into Friday morning. Thunderstorms are also possible Friday afternoon.


Who needs a canvas?

Baker Middle School students transform a plain brick wall into vibrant art

Art students at Baker Middle School have taken their studies to the walls of the school gymnasium.

Last week, artists from Ginger Rembold’s classes took turns working on a mural in the gym balcony, where the students eat lunch.

“I had money to spend from Crossroads that I was supposed to use for an artist-in-residence,” Rembold said.

That grant was from the Leo Adler Foundation to Crossroads Carnegie Art Center, which was then awarded to BMS.

This last quarter Rembold’s art classes studied American artists, with a unit on Keith Haring, whose style Rembold describes as “fat stick figures” and “very imaginative.”

The students created their own work in the style of Haring, and then the classes voted on four designs to be featured in the mural.

The images were created by Farrell Linscott, Havilah Strommer, Kate Averett and Kylie Melton.


Ash Grove’s mercury wait continues

New EPA mercury emissions rule, now due Aug. 6, could force the company to close its plant near Durkee

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency postponed its deadline from June 6 to Aug. 6 for issuing new mercury emissions limits that could affect the future of the Ash Grove Cement plant in Durkee.

 “There has been an extension of the date so the EPA can gather a little more data,” said Terry Kerby, manager of the Durkee plant, which is one of Baker County’s larger private employers with a staff of 116.

Kerby said the Durkee plant and others around the country that make cement from limestone with high, naturally occurring levels of mercury could be forced to shut down if EPA adopts its proposed mercury limits.

The Durkee factory emits more airborne mercury than any other industrial source in Oregon, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Ash Grove and other cement companies have asked EPA to include a subcategory that has less stringent limits for factories that process limestone with higher-than-normal mercury concentrations.

With a significant number of the nation’s cement kilns either shut down or operating intermittently due to the recession and a severe winter, collecting the emissions data EPA needs has been a challenge, said Curtis Lesslie, Ash Grove Cement Company’s vice president of environmental affairs.


Haines’ A’s no accident

Teachers Nanette Lehman, left, and Mary Black are proud of the Haines School and its students. (Baker City Herald/S. John Colliins)
HAINES — High achievement by the children at Haines School is no accident.

It is, rather, the result of a well-orchestrated effort by the teachers, parents and other residents of the Haines community, says Beth Bigelow, the school’s part-time principal.

For one thing, the students bring to the classroom the same work ethic they see from their hardworking parents, and that’s a formula for success, their teachers say.

For another, the small size of the school makes it possible for the teachers as well as teaching Continued from Page 1A

assistants, the school secretary, custodial staff and bus drivers to encourage students and monitor their progress.

That effort has produced top honors for the school on its Oregon report cards for the past five years. The reports are produced annually by the state Department of Education to monitor how well students are performing on state standards for reading, math and science.


Sidewalk grants draw more interest

Application deadline was Tuesday, but City Council could extend the period as it did in 2009

Baker City residents are showing more interest this year in a city program that helps pay for replacing or repairing sidewalks.

As of Tuesday’s deadline to apply for grants, the city had received 22 requests totaling $14,515, said Jennifer Bachman, engineering administration technician for the city’s Public Works Department.

 The city has about $21,000 available.

Last year, the first grants were available, the city received 15 applications totaling $9,670 by the original deadline.

To encourage residents and business owners to take advantage of the grants, the City Council last year extended the deadline by a month. During that time 11 more people applied for grants totaling $6,891.

“They extended the deadline last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them extend it again,” Bachman said. “That will be up to the Council.”


Free downtown WiFi service expanded

The free downtown wireless Internet service has been expanded to provide more reliable coverage over a broader area.

Historic Baker City Inc., and The Greater Eastern Oregon Network — www.thegeo.net — teamed to provide the free downtown wireless broadband connection.

To connect to the free WiFi, look for the WiFi signal provided by Historic Baker City and TheGEO.net called HBC1, HBC2 and HBC-FreeWiFi

Ann Mehaffy, HBC executive director, credited Dave Davis and Michelle Simonski, the couple who owns The Greater Easter Oregon Network and Davis Computers,  for setting up and maintaining the free WiFi.

“We have had free WiFi Internet service downtown since 2005, but it’s been pretty spotty with only one antenna the last couple of years,” Mehaffy said.

 She said HBC originally received a $7,500 grant in 2005 to develop an HBC Web page and install $4,000 worth of Internet equipment to launch the free downtown WiFi.


City Councilor Andrew Bryan resigns

Baker City Herald

Andrew Bryan
Baker City Councilor Andrew Bryan has resigned.

Bryan was elected in November 2006.

His four-year term expires Dec. 31, 2010.

Bryan sent a one-sentence e-mail, dated May 28, to City Hall and to the Baker City Herald and Record-Courier newspapers: “I hereby resign from the city council of the city of baker city, oregon. Sincerely, (Bryan’s signature).”

Bryan could not be reached for comment this morning.

The city charter prescribes that the remaining six councilors appoint someone to replace Bryan.

A majority of the remaining councilors must approve the appointment, which means that at least four of the six would have to agree on Bryan’s successor.

That successor will serve until the first City Council meeting of 2011, which likely will take place in early January.

Because Bryan’s term ends Dec. 31, his position was already slated to be on the ballot for the Nov. 2 general election.

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