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BHS principal Peacock picked to address graduates


By Chris Collins

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Unlike past commencement speakers, some of  whom have traveled across the country to address Baker High School graduating classes, this year’s speaker will simply drive to work like he’s done every day for most of his working life.

That’s because the man who will pass on sage advice to members of the BHS Class of 2014 when the ceremony begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at Bulldog Memorial Stadium is their principal, Jerry Peacock.

The 58-year-old Peacock, with 22 years at the helm of Baker High School, is the longest tenured — and one of the most highly respected — principals in Oregon, said Doug Dalton, the school district’s chief executive officer and business manager.

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

 


Budget board grades its work

Some, including Mayor Richard Langrell, lament failure to cut personnel costs, but Councilor Barbara Johnson says city should have given raise to non-union staff


By Pat Caldwell

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Four members of the Baker City Budget Committee said that the three-day fiscal sessions held last week proved to be a success, though at least one elected official believes the city needs to do more to cut costs.

Budget Committee Chairman Randy Daugherty, Vice-Chairman Beverly Calder, Mayor Richard Langrell and Councilor Barbara Johnson said the 2014 edition of the budget hearings was an achievement.

The committee consists of the seven city councilors and seven city residents who were appointed by the Council.

Langrell, who established a firm, fiscal-conservative position before the sessions began, said a lot was accomplished last week but it may very well end up appearing to be a triumph without victory.

“I think they (the budget hearings) went pretty well considering we didn’t cut any employee costs. Overall employee costs are still up,” Langrell said. “My No. 1 goal was to get the employee costs under control.”

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


Remembering


S. John Collins/Residents gathered Monday morning at Mount Hope Cemetery for the annual Memorial Day tribute to veterans.

Miner: BLM owes me


By Pat Caldwell

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This week, Baker County miner Guy Michael learned that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to examine his legal case against one of the largest federal agencies in the West, perhaps marking the swan song in his very personal five-year battle.

“There is no justice in the United States,” Michael said earlier this week.

Michael’s legal clash with the BLM began in 2009 and eventually involved action in a number of federal higher courts and revolved around his four unpatented mining claims along the Burnt River east of Bridgeport in southern Baker County.

In early June 2009, the BLM removed Michael’s property from one of his mining claims — including a backhoe and other equipment — and transferred it to an unnamed BLM facility. Michael said the BLM never paid him a cent for his personal equipment, nor has the agency returned his property.

“They took the equipment without determining if I was in compliance with the law,” Michael said. “Their only complaint was that I wasn’t working enough to satisfy their rules.”

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

 


Power plan fizzles

Rock Creek Power Plant owner Mark Henderson moving, and resigning from Baker School Board


S. John Collins / Baker City Herald file photo Mark Henderson rests easy in 2013 at the historic residence of former Rock Creek Power Plant operators, while making future plans for the house and generation plant, background.

By Chris Collins

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Just when it looked like the Baker School Board had come together to form a new and more cohesive version of itself, director Mark Henderson has announced his resignation.

Henderson, 45, who was elected to a four-year board term in May 2011, will step down effective June 30. That’s a year short of when his term expires in 2015.

Henderson announced his resignation near the end of Tuesday’s two-hour meeting, which was preceded by a brief Budget Board session.

He said he and his family will be moving from their home on Rock Creek Lane about five miles west of Haines to the Salem area.

“We moved here nine years ago with every intention of making a go of the hydro plant,” Henderson told his fellow directors. “But we’ve been unable to negotiate for right of way or water and we have had to put the project on hold.”

Henderson and his brother, Doug, had hoped to return the historic Rock Creek Power Plant to operation. The 1903 plant, previously owned by the Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, was closed in 1995 and sat idle for 13 years before the Hendersons bought it. 

Mark Henderson said he and his brother thought that years of working to meet environmental and regulatory requirements were about to reach an end. But recent negotiations with the U.S. Forest Service regarding right-of-way access to a diversion point on Rock Creek and the volume of water that he would be allowed to use to operate the plant fell through, thwarting the brothers’ ability to make the project profitable.

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


Why's the carnival in Baker City this weekend?


Why’s the carnival in Baker City?

Well, it wasn’t planned this way.

What happened, said Baker County Fair Manager Angie Turner, is that Paradise Amusements, which operates the carnival, is traveling from a show last weekend in Idaho, to another scheduled for next weekend in Selah, Wash.

“They basically have a dead weekend,” Turner said.

Officials from the company, which has put on carnivals at the Fairgrounds for the past several years, asked Turner if the space at the corner of D and Grove streets was available during Memorial Day weekend.

It was, and Turner rented the 5-acre property to the company for $1,000.

She’s not sure whether the carnival will end on Sunday, or continue into Monday.

Either way, Paradise Amusements will be returning for Miners Jubilee in July, Turner said.

That carnival, unlike this weekend’s version, was already on Paradise Amusement’s schedule. 


Idaho Power refilling Brownlee Reservoir

All major boat ramps are usable now 


Idaho Power no longer has any flood control requirements for Brownlee Reservoir, and the company is slowly refilling the popular waterway in eastern Baker County.

Brownlee, which was more than 20 feet below full earlier this month, is 9 feet below full now.

At that level all the major boat ramps are usable.

Idaho Power plans to have Brownlee at full pool around the middle of June. The company said in a press release that is refilling the reservoir slowly to protect bass and crappie egg nests.

Water level information is available online at www.idahopower.com or by calling 1-800-422-3143.


Rolling slowdown on I-84 May 28


There will be a rolling slowdown along Interstate 84 between La Grande and Baker City on May 28 starting at 9 a.m.

The slowdown is necessary to accommodate crews building an overhead crossing for a power line extension.

Pilot cars will begin the rolling slowdown at milepost 268.27, near La Grande, and westbound milepost 290.729, between Baker City and North Powder.

Pilot cars will be traveling at 35 mph to accommodate the work at milepost 279.5, which will take less than 10 minutes.


Gasoline cheaper in Baker than in Portland, Salem


Baker City’s average gas price of $3.72 per gallon is 15 cents less than the Oregon average, but 7 cents higher than the national average.

Baker City’s average price is 6 cents lower than it was a year ago.

The AAA auto club says the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Oregon is $3.87.

That’s the same as a week ago and 11 cents less than a year ago. The national average is $3.65.

Some metro prices from AAA’s Thursday survey: Portland $3.87, Salem $3.87, Eugene-Springfield $3.88, Medford-Ashland $3.90.


Getting Ready

Moving Baker's Kindergartners To Brooklyn Primary 


S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Modular classrooms for next year’s kindergarten students and a cafeteria will be placed in the paved area, plus a section to the right not shown, at Brooklyn Primary School.

By Chris Collins

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Gwen O’Neal is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Baker School District’s youngest students at her school when classes begin next fall.

O’Neal is the principal at Brooklyn Primary where preparations are beginning to make way for three modular buildings that will provide the needed space to add kindergartners. The school currently houses 336 students in Grades 1-3. 

Another 111 students are enrolled in kindergarten classes that are now housed in the northwest wing of Baker High School.

O’Neal told the Baker School Board during its Tuesday night session that she expects enrollment to remain at about the same level in the coming year.

“We’re just excited,” she said. “And I want to thank the board for listening to our desire to bring the kindergarten (staff and students) together with their peers.”

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


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