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Baker City burn ban ends at 7 a.m. Friday

The ban on outdoor burning inside the Baker City limits will end at 7 a.m. Friday.

The end to the burn ban is due to recent rains and cooler temperatures, Fire Chief Jim Price said in a press release.

Residents still need a permit for open burning. Permits are available at the Fire Department on Second Street.

Idaho Power to build new power line near Halfway

HALFWAY — Idaho Power Company will be building a new power transmission line near Halfway this fall — and it’s right next to the existing line.

And that existing line will continue to bring power to the area while construction crews are working.

 “We are rebuilding the new line right next to the old line, so our crews will be extremely careful and aware of that energized line,” Project Manager Brett Flynn said in a press release. “It will be important to keep the power on during construction for residents of the Halfway and Richland areas."

More Keating mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus

Mosquitoes trapped Aug. 25 in Keating Valley tested positive for West Nile virus.

It's the eighth "pool" of mosquitoes in Baker County to be infected with the virus since July 21 (a pool of mosquitoes consists of 10 to 50 insects).

All eight pools were trapped in Keating Valley, said Matt Hutchinson, manager of the Baker Valley Vector Control District.

Hutchinson is responsible for controlling mosquitoes in the 200,000-acre district, which includes most of Baker, Bowen and Keating valleys.

Hiker OK after night lost

Searchers found Alice Covey, 65, of Halfway about 8:30 Tuesday morning, the day after she went missing

Submitted photo Alice Covey, on horseback, arrives at the Summit Point trailhead Tuesday morning.

By Jayson Jacoby

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When Alice Covey realized she was lost in the Wallowa Mountains, she worried more about her family than herself.

“I didn’t want my family to worry,” said Covey, the 65-year-old Halfway woman who endured temperatures in the 30s Monday night before searchers found her about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Covey was hungry and thirsty, but otherwise healthy and happy.

Although ecstatic would better describe her emotion when she saw an Oregon State Police plane flying overhead Tuesday morning.

Back to Brooklyn

New modulars will accommodate larger-than-expected first grade 

Kathy Orr / Baker City Herald Hand in hand and starting a new school year Tuesday morning at Brooklyn Primary are Cameryn, left, and Dylan Conklin, with mom Joy Goodman.

By Coby Hutzler

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For many kids across the country, yesterday marked the first day of the new school year. 

That was certainly true at Baker City’s Brooklyn Primary School, where the atmosphere was both excited and ambitious as little ones became acquainted with new friends and new routines —and their new classrooms. 

Brooklyn is now home to three modular buildings purchased earlier this year, and while the units are ready for teaching, they’re awaiting a few final, behind-the-scenes touches. 

“The water is all connected, and although our land-line phone system is not fully operational, (staff members) are in contact via cell phones,” said Gundula O’Neal, Brooklyn’s principal.

The modulars’ arrival couldn’t have come soon enough.

See more in Wednesday's issue of the Baker City Herald. 

Missing Halfway woman found safe

A Halfway woman who went missing Monday in the Wallowa Mountains was found safe this morning, Sheriff Mitch Southwick said.

Alice Covey, 65,  was camping with her husband and two or three other people in the Little Eagle Meadows area about three miles north of the Summit Point trailhead, Southwick said.

The group started out on a day hike toward Cornucopia on Monday, but Alice Covey turned back when she twisted her ankle, Southwick said.

When the others returned to their camp, Covey was not there. They searched but could not find her.

The Sheriff's Office received a call at 5:25 p.m. Monday, reporting that Covey was missing.

Searchers found Covey about 8:30 a.m. today. She was calling for help and appears to be in good condition, Southwick said.

After having some food and water, Covey will walk with searchers back to the trailhead, the sheriff said.

Beasts of Burden

Reliving Pioneer Days At The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center 

Kathy Orr / Baker City Herald Sheryl Curtis — Bullwhacking’ Kass — holds one of her oxen, Job, as the Stoltzfus family pets the steer and gets ready to pose for photos Saturday. From left to right are Janna, Lisa, Caroline and father Myron Stoltzfus. The family visited the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center as they get ready to move to Payette, Idaho, later this fall.

By Coby Hutzler

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The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center was the site of an historical wagon camp re-enactment this weekend, playing host to demonstrations of blackpowder shooting, Dutch-oven cooking, dancing, and more.

Ox handler “Bullwhackin’ Kass,” also known as Sheryl Curtis, was on hand to explain how oxen were used to haul wagons along the Oregon Trail’s 2,200 miles.

Curtis, of Okanogan, Washington, had two oxen with her this weekend, Saul and Job, ages 17 and 11. The two form a gargantuan team, with a combined weight of 6,538 pounds. 

Curtis said that oxen, despite being commonly understood as a particular breed of stout, sturdy working bovine, aren’t a breed at all. 

“(That they’re called oxen) only means that they’re trained to work,” she said.

Curtis said that while oxen are usually steers, bulls are also used. 

“If there’s no cow (nearby) there’s no problem,” she said. 

As the wagons on the trail were prone to accidents, and since some branches of the trail passed unpalatable grass and water too alkaline for the oxen, Curtis said that it was a rare thing for the animals to survive the whole trip. 

See more in Monday's issue of the Baker City Herald. 


Never mind calendar: Fall debuts as August takes a bow

By Jayson Jacoby

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Baker County weather rarely conforms to the edicts of the equinoxes.

Officially, fall doesn’t arrive for almost three weeks.

But August’s final breath, as it were, felt decidely autumnal.

The cold front that spawned a boisterous thunderstorm Saturday afternoon in Baker City also ushered in the coolest air since the summer solstice.

Sunday’s high temperature of 68 degrees at the Baker City Airport was was the lowest in almost 2months.

It was the coolest day since June 18, when the high was 61.

See more in Monday's issue of the Baker City Herald. 

Ice Bucket Challenge Brings A Chill To Baker City

Coby Hutzler / Baker City Herald Ginger Savage, director of the Crossroads Carnegie Art Center, is doused with ice water Wednesday evening. She agreed to endure the frigid experience after the center raised enough money to schedule two visits from the Missoula Children’s Theater next summer.

By Coby Hutzler

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A frigid wave is sweeping the country. 

What began as a dare to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, has exploded in popularity and led to record donations to the ALS Association — almost $100 million in just the past month or so.

That wave is called the Ice Bucket Challenge.

State confirms three "presumptive" cases of West Nile virus in Baker County residents

By Jayson Jacoby

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Three Richland-area residents were likely infected with West Nile virus through mosquito bites earlier this summer, according to the Oregon Health Authority and the Baker County Health Department.

The agencies are calling the three cases, the first human West Nile infections in Baker County since 2007, “presumptive” because final test results are still pending.

But Dr. Emilio DeBess, public health veterinarian with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), said the three Baker County residents definitely contracted either West Nile virus or St. Louis encephalitis.

Both are spread by mosquitoes, but the tests that have been done so far on blood samples from the three people could not distinguish between the two diseases, DeBess said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta can perform that test, but results probably won’t be available for two to three weeks, he said.

It’s far more likely that the three Baker County residents were infected with West Nile virus, DeBess said.

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