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Vespers Sunday at Baker High

Vespers is a long-standing tradition at Baker High School — so long that no one really remembers when it began.

Several years ago the music directors decided to offer two performances to make sure everyone attending could find a seat.

That happens again this year — Vespers will be at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday in the BHS auditorium, 2500 E St. Admission is free.

There will be a bake sale in the commons area, and donations will be accepted to help offset travel expenses for the choirs and bands.

Vespers features all the music groups — concert choir, treble choir, Bel Canto, symphonic band and jazz band.

The Baker Brass and Bel Canto Choir will provide pre-concert music while the audience members find seats.

Then the holiday music begins.

Community Choir to sing

The Baker Community Choir will give two Christmas concert performances this weekend — 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, at the Church of the Nazarene, 1250 Hughes Lane, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, corner of First and Church streets.

City opens ice-skating rink

Baker City officials picked the perfect week to flood a basketball court.

An outdoor court, to be specific.

During this coldest week of the season so far, the water that poured onto the court next to Sam-O Swim Center, 580 Baker St., quickly solidified into a glassy smooth surface.

One ideal for its purpose, which is ice-skating, said Michelle Owen, the city’s public works director.

“It looks really good,” Owen said. “I hope people take advantage of the opportunity.”

The city has flooded the court in past years. In some cases, though, people were more interested in hacking at the ice than sliding across it, Owen said.

Angels still needed

Christmas gifts and donations have been trickling in so far

Shannon Regan and other Baker City Police personnel have placed an Angel Tree and food barrel in the main entrance of the Police Department, 1768 Auburn Ave. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)
The Salvation Army and businesses around town are working to make Christmas happy for everyone.

But they need help.

Holli Diamond, The Salvation Army’s family service caseworker, said donations to the red kettles are down so far this year.

“I’m hoping they catch up really quick,” she said.

Also, as of Monday, she’d seen only five gifts returned from the Angel Trees.

The Angel Trees are decorated with tags specifying a child’s gender, age and wish list. The community is welcome to select a tag, purchase a gift and then return it, unwrapped and with the gift tag, to the tree or to The Salvation Army.

City rejects offer in pipeline suit

After meeting in executive session Tuesday night, the Baker City Council nixed a settlement offer and authorized Public Works Director Michelle Owen to represent the city in a Dec. 22 mediation in the city’s lawsuit related to its plan to replace an aging water pipeline.

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said after the meeting that the mediation session with a federal judge is an attempt to settle the lawsuit the city filed against the Forest Service and BLM.

She emphasized that the issue “is not contentious.”

No snow = pipe problems

You wouldn’t send your child out into this weather without a coat.

But your pipes are already there, and they’re clad in shorts and tank tops.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

What pipes are actually lacking is a protective layer of snow.

Snow, despite its chilly reputation, is quite an effective insulator — as anyone knows who has spent much time inside an igloo.

Even a few inches of snow on the ground can help to prevent household pipes from freezing when the temperature plunges below zero.

It feels like winter — but where’s the snow?

Meteorologists say this winter tougher than usual to predict

Winter made its bone-chilling debut early this week with an arctic blast that sent temperatures below zero, but so far it’s not the winter wonderland skiers and other recreationists are hoping for.

Two inches of snow fell over the weekend at Ski Anthony Lakes, bringing the total to 22 inches — enough to keep more than 10 kilometers of Nordic ski trails open again this weekend, but about eight inches short of the minimum needed to open the triple chairlift for downhill skiing.

Last winter, the slopes at Ski Anthony Lakes opened Dec. 13.

General manager Bill Junnila said computer weather models show more snow is expected on the mountain this weekend, stirring hopes that the resort will open for alpine skiing possibly by Dec. 17, in time for Christmas break.

Ski Anthony Lakes will be open, snow permitting, every day except Christmas between Dec. 17-31.

Forecasting the weather is a tricky proposition, of course.

Preparation can help miners cash in — and stay out of trouble

Gold fever is no excuse for prospecting on a mining claim that’s already staked out

Record gold prices peaked at an all-time high of $1,225 an ounce Friday, creating a buzz around Oregon’s premier gold mining hot spots in Baker County.

But people need to know a few things before they rush out to buy a pick and shovel and pan and start looking for gold.

There’s still plenty of places rich in gold around Baker County, but officials at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries recommend would-be prospectors stop by the agency’s new regional office in the Baker County Courthouse, 1995 Third St., or visit the DOGAMI Web site (www.oregongeology.com) to look over maps showing where gold has been found over the years, where geologic studies and rock analysis indicate gold is likely to be present, and, most important from a legal standpoint, where other miners or mining associations have already staked claims.

The Evolution of our Language

Tweeted lately about your cyberstaycation?

Here’s a riddle for you. What is black and white and green all over? The answer — a hybrid police car.

If you got the riddle, you must know that green has come to mean environmentally friendly and that hybrid now refers to a car that runs on both gasoline and electricity. These are good examples of how our language is always evolving to reflect changes in our world. New words come into use every year. This can include new uses of old words and new forms created by joining or altering them. The current attention on environment and energy has been the source of many new terms.  So now we have wind farms and wave farms as well.

The new use of green has led to the term “green states,” which refers to those with strong environmental regulations — not to be confused with the political terms red states and blue states which became popular during presidential elections in the ’90s. Of course, green states must have a term to describe those with the opposing stance; those are brown states. Industries consider their carbon footprint, and their impact on global warming.

Grieving mother seeks to give solace to others

Cindy Plano clearly recalls the date her family’s nightmare began.

It was April 20, 2004. That’s when her kind, caring, sensitive — but troubled —son, Duane, ended his life.

“We got a phone call from the mom of his daughter,” Plano recalled. “She said, ‘Duane’s just shot himself.’ ”

Since her son’s death, her family has worked hard to accept the “new normal” for their lives. And Plano, who returned to her hometown of Richland three years ago after 26 years in Alaska, wants to extend the lessons learned over the past five years to help others experiencing similar sorrow.

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