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Sleuth seeks to slash home heating bills


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Mary Sue Rightmire, right, of Baker City, listens as Dave Felley of Energy Trust of Oregon suggests ways she can make her natural gas furnace run more efficiently — and cheaply.
By JAYSON JACOBY
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Dave Felley is creeping around Mary Sue Rightmire’s basement, peering into nooks, shining his tiny flashlight into crannies, and looking like nothing so much as a detective.

Which he is, basically.

Except Felley doesn’t carry a badge, and he isn’t looking for evidence of a crime.

Unless you consider wasting energy a crime, that is.

Rightmire invited Felley on Tuesday afternoon to scrutinize her Baker City home, from basement to attic, and tell her what’s wrong with it.


Stabilizing the Powder's Banks

Jason Hedgepeth first digs a trench to place at least half the diameter of the rock below the river bed as he continues work on the Powder River Restoration Project. He said trucks have unloaded about 600 yards of various size rock so far. Hedgepeth of Hanging Rock Construction and Excavation Inc., in La Grande, said some riverside properties along the west side of Kirkway, between H Street and Hughes Lane, are being rebuilt at the property’s present grade to about the original property line. Land owners are required to pay $187 for materials and labor, but can choose whether or not to have their sections rebuilt or stabilized. Some land owners with seemingly stable banks are having the work done to return the river to more natural appearance. Weirs also will be constructed to help direct the flow of the river. The Leo Adler Memorial Parkway along the Kirkway section, from the H Street bridge to Hughes Lane, will remain closed through October, perhaps longer, Hedgepeth said, because of more land owners opting to have work done.

School board to resume talks on weapons policy


By JAYSON JACOBY
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The Baker School Board will resume its discussion Tuesday regarding whether employees and members of the public should be allowed to bring guns or other dangerous or deadly weapons on school property or to school-sponsored events.

Board members are scheduled to discuss the issue during a work session starting at 5:30 p.m. at the District Office, 2090 Fourth St.

The regular board meeting starts at 6 p.m.

One of the five board members, Kyle Knight, adamantly opposes some language in an administrative rule that Superintendent Walt Wegener put into effect on Oct. 5.

Knight has submitted a revised version of the rule.


County Jail gets a handle on messy task


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A new machine at the Baker County Jail takes fingerprints without messy ink.
By CHRIS COLLINS
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The job of fingerprinting inmates as they are booked into the Baker County Jail is not as messy — or as time consuming — as it used to be.

“Now we don’t have a lot of ink to clean up all over the place,” said Janice Clement, a corrections deputy who explained how the machine works at the jail Thursday.

That’s thanks to a $27,000 federal Criminal Justice grant that brought the process into the 21st century.

The grant was used to purchase an electronic scanner, which captures images of each prisoner’s fingerprints during booking.


Voters could decide whether to ban studded tires


By JAYSON JACOBY
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Oregon voters might decide next year whether to ban studded tires, a common sight, and sound, on Baker County roads for more than 30 years.

A Portland man, Jeff Bernards, plans to collect 80,000 signatures needed to put a measure banning studded tires on the November 2012 ballot.

The Oregon Supreme Court this week approved the wording of Bernards’ proposed ballot measure.


Turning a classroom into a camera


By LISA BRITTON
For the Baker City Herald

It takes only 15 minutes for Rich Bergeman to turn a classroom into a camera — all he needs is black plastic, blue tape and a small hole cut into a pie pan.

Photography is magical, he tells the fifth-grade students at South Baker Intermediate School.

“It’s the only way to make a picture out of real life. It’s really a magical thing,” he said. “We’re going to see how magical it is by turning your classroom into a camera — a big one."


County's recycling dips, but only a bit


By JAYSON JACOBY
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Baker County residents and businesses recycled a bit more than 7.5 million pounds of cardboard, paper, yard debris and other stuff in 2010.

Which is quite a bit.

And the county’s second-highest yearly total ever.

But it’s wasn’t as much as the year before.

The county set a record in 2009 by recycling 8.1 million pounds of material, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).


Local schools excel


By CHRIS COLLINS
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Superintendent Walt Wegener expressed his enthusiasm for the Baker School District’s most recent performance on the state’s School Report Card ratings this way: “Yahoo!”

That was his jubilant response to the “outstanding” label awarded to four of the district’s buildings in a year that saw standards raised and fewer schools across the state receiving the top rating.

“We did a really nice job,” Wegener said Thursday, the day the 2010-11 report card results were released to the public by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).


Hereford postmaster called a lifesaver


By CHRIS COLLINS
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Lynne Loverin doesn’t like to think about what might have happened to her 85-year-old mother if she’d spent another chilly night lying on the linoleum floor of her Hereford home.

That’s where Shauna Andrews found Marilyn Loverin on the afternoon of Sept. 15.

Whether Marilyn lay there alone for one night or two, no one can say for sure. But thanks to Andrews’ concern for her neighbor, Marilyn is on her way to recovery.

Andrews was honored Monday on the floor of the U.S. Senate for what Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called “her exceptional service and dedication to her customers and neighbors."


Farewell to a freeway fixture


By JAYSON JACOBY
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Nera Watson sure misses the truck stop at Farewell Bend.

Trouble is, quite a few travelers on nearby Interstate 84 never found out that the business had closed.

The truck stop, a retail oasis of gas station, restaurant and motel along the relatively lonely 73-mile stretch of freeway between Baker City and Ontario, closed in May.

Since then, Watson said, a relatively steady stream of drivers have rolled into Farewell Bend or Huntington, at four miles away the closest incorporated town, lacking enough fuel to reach either Ontario (21 miles southeast) or Durkee (26 miles northwest).


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