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Baker Sanitary Service wants to accept waste from Grant, Wallowa counties

Baker Sanitary Service is asking the Baker County Planning Commission to allow the company to accept waste from Grant and Wallowa counties.

Baker Sanitary currently buries trash from Baker and Union counties at the landfill the company owns near Sutton Creek, about three miles southeast of Baker City.

The Planning Commission will consider the request during its meeting Thursday, July 24 at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse, 1995 Third St.

Fire burns 100 acres in Eagle Cap Wilderness

A lightning-caused fire has burned about 100 acres in the Eagle Cap Wilderness near Joseph, and Forest Service officials said the fire has the potential to grow considerably.

The Hurricane Creek Fire is burning in dense timber on steep slopes in the Dunn Creek area about one-half mile from the Hurricane Creek trailhead.

The fire was reported at 4:30 a.m. Monday.

The Hurricane Creek trailhead is closed.

Although the Forest Service has allowed many lightning fires to burn in the Eagle Cap over the past dozen or so years, fire crews are working on the Hurricane Creek fire. They are using "minimum suppression techniques," designed to prevent the fire from burning outside the wilderness and potentially threatening private property.

The fire has produced large columns of smoke visible from much of the Wallowa Valley.

Blaze blackens 80 acres

Lightning-Caused Fire Near Medical Springs

By Jayson Jacoby

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The fire started in a patch of sagebrush but Phil Whitley said the flames spread so fast he almost could have believed the fuel was something more volatile.

“It took off like someone poured kerosene on it,” Whitley said this morning, just a few hours after he and firefighters from several local agencies had corralled a lightning-sparked blaze near Medical Springs about 17 miles northeast of Baker City.

The fire started about 10:40 p.m. Sunday on the west side of Highway 203 between Wirth and Blue Mountain Ridge roads.

Whitley, who is chief of the volunteer Medical Springs Rural Fire Protection District, said the fire started on his property.

His son and daughter-in-law, Wayne and April Whitley, live nearby, and April was the first to see the flames.

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

‘Once riding’s in your blood’

Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally Brings Thousands Of Riders To Baker City 

Editor’s Note: Coby Hutzler is working for the Herald this summer as an intern through the Charles Snowden Program. We’ll publish a profile story about Coby later this month.

Kathy Orr /Baker City Herald Feeling the wind in their face and the freedom of rural Eastern Oregon, these bikers experience the vistas of the snow-capped mountains and green valleys on their way to Hells Canyon east of Baker City.

By Coby Hutzler

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The Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally brought riders to Baker City from all over the country, on all kinds of machines, with all kinds of stories.

Here are a couple of them. 

Neal Chamberlain from North Powder has been riding motorcycles since 1966 — including a 3-year stint in the Air Force that ended in 1972. 

Then, in 1974, he had a motocross accident that fractured his C6 and C7 vertebrae, stripping him of the use of his legs and almost all the use of his arms and hands. 

Though he had been racing motocross for a few years before his crash, the accident didn’t happen during a race.

“I was just goofing off,” Chamberlain said. “That’s usually when you get hurt, is when you’re screwing around.” 

Chamberlain gets around these days in a powered wheelchair.

“I’ve been in the chair 40 years,” he said. 

Chamberlain’s injury didn’t stop him from riding, though, and while he’s had a couple of special project bikes over the years to accommodate his chair, the latest is a three-wheeled Honda 750 called “The Dragon Wagon.” 

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


Ready to Roll

Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally 

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald A 500-horsepower V-8 engine from a Corvette motor moves this Harley-Davidson Boss Hoss motorcycle owned by Frank and Debra Saniti of Boring, Ore. They spent Thursday morning cleaning and polishing the bike at Baker High School in preparation for Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, which continues through Sunday. Usually touring on two wheels, the Sanitis traveled by motor home and a trailer for their first-time participation at the Baker City event. “This is a great town. We love it!” Frank says. People are friendly, the city and streets are clean and the historic aspect is incredible, he said.

The number of motorcycles might not be the only record set this weekend in Baker City.

How about tents?

The grassy fields around Baker High School resemble nothing so much the camp firefighters assemble when a big blaze is going.

Steve Folkestad, who with his brother, Eric, started the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, expects as many as 8,000 riders to converge on Baker City this weekend.

A goodly percentage of that number was already here this morning, based on the frequency of Harley V-Twin reverberations bouncing off downtown buildings.

Although motorcycles will be parked along Main Street (closed to other traffic) all weekend, the official show starts at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Police arrest suspect in several vehicle prowls

Baker City Police on Wednesday arrested a local man who they believe stole items from several vehicles in Baker City over the past several days.
Patrick Cleveland, 33, who recently moved here from Montana, is charged with five counts of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and four counts of theft, one of which is a felony charge.
Police are investigating several other thefts of items from cars that have happened over the past two months.
See more in Friday's issue of the Baker City Herald.

Lightning sparks at least one blaze

Lightning ignited a small forest fire west of Unity Wednesday afternoon, and firefighters are patrolling the woods near Dooley Mountain this morning looking for any other blazes that might have been sparked.

Thunderstorms spawned lightning strikes in both areas, said Willy Crippen, fire management officer for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest's Burnt-Powder Fire Zone.

One bolt set fire to a couple of dead trees near Pole Creek, about eight miles west of Unity. The Forest Service lookout atop Table Rock, southwest of Unity, reported the fire.

A fire crew built a control line around the blaze Wednesday night. The fire covered about one-tenth of an acre, Crippen said. 

Firefighters were unable to find another possible blaze reported near the 1210 Road, a couple miles west of the Pole Creek blaze. Crews resumed their search for the fire this morning, Crippen said.

Another storm brought lightning to the area between Dooley and Black mountains, about a dozen miles south of Baker City.

Firefighters will search that area this morning from the ground and from an airplane, Crippen said.

The storms delivered rain as well as lightning, so it's possible fires are smoldering and will produce more smoke this afternoon when temperatures rise. 

Focus on a Fence

City Council Inspects Watershed Near Elk Creek 

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald New fencing around the Elk Creek diversion dam in the Baker City Watershed, and last summer’s cryptosporidium outbreak, are issues discussed by City Council members, staff, news reporters and others who attended Monday's meeting in the mountains about 10 miles west of town.

By Pat Caldwell

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To label Monday’s tour by Baker City Council members and city officials of the Elk Creek watershed diversion point as anti-climactic might be an overstatement but the expedition did put to rest some lingering questions regarding fence work around the area.

Ostensibly the tour was about dispelling criticism of lack of progress on a city-built fence around the area where the city diverts water from Elk Creek into its supply pipeline.

But the excursion also centered on demonstrating that city leaders consider the safety of the town’s water to be vital.

The Elk Creek fence issue sprouted into a flash-point matter last month after Mayor Richard Langrell asserted portions of the fence were in disrepair.

At the time, City Manager Mike Kee avowed that city crews had been working on the fence area since last autumn and huge swaths of it were, in fact, rebuilt.

Monday’s half-day tour showcased portions of a newly-built fence that protects the Elk Creek diversion on three sides. Elk Creek is one of several streams the city taps in its watershed and it became the epicenter of concern last summer during the city’s crypto crisis. One water sample acquired from Elk Creek during the crisis contained levels of crypto sufficient to trigger sickness.

Cattle had crossed the fence and entered the watershed near Elk Creek. A few samples of cattle feces were tested but did not contain crypto.

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

Family thankful of safety after house burns

By Chris Collins

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Members of the Fine family counted their blessings and mourned their losses as they watched firefighters mop up the remains of their charred home Tuesday morning.

Allan Fine had just left for work at his job at Marvin Wood Products about half an hour before the fire department was dispatched to 1130 Broadway St. at about 5:30 a.m.

Allan, 32, said the house had been his home for the past 20 years. He shared it with his 62-year-old mother, Virginia.

Council ousts Langrell as mayor

The Baker City Council has removed Richard Langrell as mayor and elected Councilor Clair Button to replace him.

Councilor Barbara Johnson will replace Button as vice-mayor.

Langrell, who was elected by voters as a councilor in November 2012, was elected by his colleagues as mayor in January 2013.

He will remain as a councilor. His four-year term continues through the end of 2016.

In Baker City's form of government the mayor is largely a ceremonial position, and the mayor has no special authority beyond setting meeting agendas and signing official documents.

The City Council met tonight in a regular meeting.

Button had asked that a discussion of Langrell's performance be added to the agenda.

Langrell this spring filed a lawsuit against the city claiming it owes him more than $9,000 in water and sewer fees he paid for his motel, the Always Welcome Inn.



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