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City manager checks under way

A Middleton, Idaho, private investigation firm has begun background checks on the two finalists for the Baker City manager job.

The city hired Freeman and Associates to do the checks, interim City Manager Tim Collins said this morning.

Collins said he doesn’t expect the work to be finished before the end of this week.

The City Council chose Tim W. Johnson of Portland and Clarence Hulse of Cocoa, Fla., as the two finalists during a Nov. 16 meeting.

Councilors also decided, by a 5-2 vote, that Johnson is their top choice, so long as the background check doesn’t reveal any problems.

“He is the majority choice,” Councilor Beverly Calder said this morning.

If Johnson’s background is acceptable, then the Council will decide, during a public meeting, whether to offer him the job.

Burnt River district receives state conservation award

The Burnt River Soil and Water Conservation District won Oregon’s 2009 outstanding conservation district award, marking the first time a Baker County group has received that recognition.

“This is a great honor. Baker County soil and water conservation districts have been active since 1941 and have never received this award,” said Laurie Owens, manager of the Baker Association of Conservation Districts, which includes the Burnt River SWCD.

In addition to the Conservation District of the Year Award, Baker County’s Amber Arritola was honored as the Outstanding District Employee of the Year for her work with the Burnt River SWCD.

Both awards were presented by the Natural Resource Conservation Service during the Oregon Association of Conservation District’s Annual Conference in Pendleton last month.

Report: Turkey’s not just a holiday bird

Federal study shows Americans eating more poultry, less beef

A day after millions of families dined on turkey for Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report that found Americans are eating more poultry, but a little less beef and pork.

The report also concluded that we’re eating more cheese but less ice cream.

Despite the USDA’s release of a new food pyramid in the 1990s recommending people eat more fruits and vegetables, the study found people are eating more vegetables but less fruit.

Haines man killed in woodcutting accident

A Haines man died in a woodcutting accident Saturday in a field off Highway 30 between Baker City and Haines.

Sherrill Dayhoff, 72, left home to cut wood in a field owned by Jeff Phillips about 9 a.m. Saturday, Sheriff Mitch Southwick said today.

Turkey Trot raises more than $3,000

Amount raised almost doubled total from the inaugural event in 2008

This year’s Turkey Trot, held Thanksgiving morning, raised more than $3,000 and 2,000 pounds of food for the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center.

The event brought out 291 paid participants, 70 of whom signed up the day of the race. Also, donations were received from people visiting from as far away as Davis, Calif.

Finger-lickin' kindergarten feast

 Read more...These Baker School District kindergartners and their classmates each got a lick from the mixing bowl after pies were made Wednesday.

5J Board urges voters to OK tax measures

The Baker School Board approved a resolution Monday night supporting Oregon’s tax-raising Measures 66 and 67, which voters will decide on in a Jan. 26 statewide special election.

If approved,the measures would boost taxes on some individuals and corporations.

Some of that money would go to schools.

The resolution was approved by a 4-1 vote with Deon Strommer, board chairman and the owner of Subway sandwich shops in Baker City and La Grande, opposed.

ODOT hires firm to build Baker shop

The maintenance station will be built next to Interstate 84 at the North Baker City interchange

The Oregon Department of Transportation accepted a low bid of $4.6 million from CSI Construction of Portland and broke ground last week on a new maintenance station near the north Baker City freeway interchange.

“This is going to replace the ODOT Baker maintenance facility currently on the south end of town,” said Tom Strandberg, ODOT spokesman.

The current shop is on South Bridge Street.

Strandberg said ODOT work crews have been moving gravel piles at the construction site to make way for some of the improvements, and CIS construction workers started dong some of the ground work in preparation for pouring foundations for the  maintenance building.

“The new facility will have better access to the freeway and other highways,” Strandberg said.

He said the new location will be safer, since snowplows and other heavy equipment won’t have to travel through town as they must to get to the current shop.

Festival to feature 17 decorated trees

Seventeen decorated trees will be auctioned during this year’s Festival of Trees,  and proceeds will help develop cancer resources at St. Elizabeth Health Services.

The Festival and the annual golf tournament are the hospital’s major fundraisers each year.

Over the last nine years, those two events have netted $375,000.

“Every one of those dollars comes from you and your neighbors,” said Amy Dunkak, director of communications at St. Elizabeth.

Superintendent to retire in April

Board to meet Tuesday in special work session to begin hiring process

The Baker School Board will meet in special session Tuesday to begin the job of replacing Superintendent Don Ulrey, who has announced that he will retire in April.

The Tuesday session will begin at 5:15 p.m. at the district office, 2090 Fourth St.

Ulrey read his letter of resignation to the board Monday night.

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