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Jobless rate down, but not all the news is good


By ED MERRIMAN

Baker City Herald

Baker County’s 8.5 percent non-seasonally adjusted September unemployment rate, down from 9.2 percent in August, was the lowest among Northeastern Oregon counties.

For the first time this year, Baker County’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate came in a full 1 percent below the national average, which was 9.5 percent in September.

Baker County’s rate was 2.3 percent below Oregon’s statewide rate of 10.8 percent, according to the November edition of the Eastern Oregon Labor Trends report published by the Oregon Employment Department.

Among counties in Northeastern Oregon, Wallowa County posted the next lowest jobless rate at 8.7 percent, followed by 9.3 percent for Malheur County, 9.9 percent for Grant County, 10.2 percent for Union County, and 15 percent for Harney County.


Survivors say Baker City residents' support 'amazing'


By LISA BRITTON

Baker City Herald

The van crossed the Idaho border about 4:30 a.m. Thursday, moving west through Baker County toward Portland.

The destination for these 16 young adults was a business convention where they would work for 10 days to raise money to support their ministry in Federal Heights, Colo.

“It was just routine for us — we travel all over the country to work these trade shows,” says Nicole Byrd, 25.

She was driving the van.

Byrd and the 15 passengers in the van belong to the Rocky Mountain Masters Commission, a training program affiliated with the New Life Worship Center, in Federal Heights, Colo., about 15 minutes from Denver.

During the nine-month program, the students learn discipleship and leadership by provided free programs — dance, music, sports — for the community’s youth.


Two killed, 14 hurt in freeway crash

Read more...
Scott Skinner, Oregon State Police collision reconstructionist, puts together clues and evidence leading to a crash that occurred on Interstate 84 Thursday morning near Baker City.


By CHRIS COLLINS and JAYSON JACOBY
Baker City Herald
Two members of a Colorado church died, and 14 others were hurt after the 2002 Ford van they were traveling in slid out of control on icy Interstate 84 near Baker City and rolled multiple times Thursday morning.
Joshua John Pischura, 20, of Geneva, Ohio, died at St. Elizabeth Health Services, according to Oregon State Police.
Another passenger, Taune Nicole Winter Pepper, 23, of Deer Trail, Colo., was flown by air ambulance to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where she died Thursday afternoon.


Halfway scrambles after explosion at water station

Though a backup well is online, residents are still asked to boil drinking water

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Halfway City Council President Marion Crow, left, and contractor Denny Farwell, husband of Halfway Mayor Sheila Farwell, survey the damage and discuss insulating water pipes exposed to freezing nighttime temperatures after an explosion and fire Sunday at the town’s water pumping station. (Baker City Herald/Ed Merriman)
Halfway officials reveled Tuesday in the cooperative community effort and volunteerism that helped the city of nearly 500 come through a water system crisis that came within four hours of leaving the town high and dry.

“Everybody cooperated and everything came together, and we had a good result,” said Halfway Mayor Sheila Farwell.


City Council sets timeline to hire city manager

The Baker City Council set a timeline for the final stages for hiring a new city manager from a field of four finalists who were visiting Baker City this week for interviews with the City Council.

Mayor Dennis Dorrah congratulated City Manager Pro-Tem Tim Collins for putting together a welcoming reception, tours of the town and meetings with selected members of the community. Collins said he arranged the meetings at Dorrah’s suggestion as much to sell the city manager candidates on Baker City as to give those involved in the meet-and-greet sessions a chance to interact with the candidates — Timothy Johnson of Portland, Eric Strahl of Michigan, Clarence Hulse of Florida and James Patrick of Kalispell, Mont.


Ochoco Lumber Co. receives grant for wood pellet fuel plant

A $4.89 million federally funded economic recovery grant from Business Oregon is headed to the Ochoco Lumber Co. of John Day.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced Tuesday the funding will construct a wood pellet fuel facility, helping support the retention of 80 full-time jobs and creating 11 new ones in the community.


Three Baker County schools rated as ‘outstanding’ in 2008-09 report

PORTLAND — State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo released the latest batch of report cards for Oregon schools, with 95 percent rated ‘‘satisfactory’’ or ‘‘outstanding.’’

The other 5 percent were deemed in need of improvement, mostly because of poor test scores.


Food banks preparing for holiday season

The Salvation Army and NE Oregon Compassion Center have seen more need this year

Read more...
Holli Diamond, The Salvation Army’s family service caseworker, is again organizing this year’s food baskets, Angel Trees and red kettles — and she needs volunteers. (Baker City Herald file photo/S. John Collins)
Baker City residents are being asked to go to their pantries this week to gather food to be given to neighbors who might be having trouble making ends meet as the holidays approach.

The annual Scouting for Food drive is scheduled Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Boys Scouts and members of other church and school youth groups will be distributing fliers Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to remind residents of the Saturday event, said Cliff Cole, Northeast Oregon Compassion Center ministry director.


Halfway explosion affects water supply


An explosion at the Halfway water pumping station Sunday afternoon prompted city officials to call on area residents to conserve water, according to Mayor Sheila Farwell.

City Council to discuss city manager process


The Baker City Council at Tuesday’s meeting will discuss the city manager selection process, accept quarterly reports from city department heads and Historic Baker City, and consider a resolution establishing Banner Bank as the city’s merchant service provider.

“Recently the city opened checking and savings accounts at Banner Bank to save money on bank charges and earn interest at a higher rate (currently 2 percent),” according to written explanation recommending a change from Sterling Bank to Banner Bank.

 


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