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County commissioners to consider medical marijuana dispensary moratorium

The Baker County Board of Commissioners will have a special meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Courthouse, 1995 Third St. in Baker City.

The agenda includes a proposed ordinance instituting a moratorium on opening medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Baker City Council has already approved a one-year moratorium on such businesses, as allowed by a law the Legislature passed in March.

Baker man falls asleep while driving, crashes near Durkee

Oregon State Police photo/Hector Torres of Baker City suffered only minor injuries Monday morning when he fell asleep while driving on Interstate 84 near Durkee and crashed his 1993 Geo.

A Baker City man sustained minor injuries Monday morning when he fell asleep at the wheel near Durkee and crashed into a metal freeway sign.

Hector Torres, 25, was traveling west at 7:30 a.m. when his 1993 Geo four-door went off the road and rolled before coming to rest against the metal post, Oregon State Police Sgt. Ty Duby stated in a press release.

Huntington Fire Department volunteers and a Baker City ambulance crew extricated Torres from the vehicle, Duby said. Torres was taken to St. Alphonsus Medical Center. 

Police cited Torres on a charge of failing to drive in his lane. Torres was wearing a seat belt, Duby said.

Oregon Department of Transportation workers helped at the scene.

138 voters shift to GOP

Most who have changed in 2014 had been registered as Democrats 

By Jayson Jacoby

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As of Thursday, 138 Baker County voters have changed their registration to Republican this year, a shift that allows them to vote in the two all-Republican county commissioner races in the May 20 primary.

The majority of the registered voters who have switched their affiliation to the GOP since Jan. 1 were previously registered as Democrats.

According to records from County Clerk Tami Green’s office, 91 of the 138 registered voters who changed their affiliation to Republican this year had been registered as Democrats.

Another 28 were previously not affiliated with any party, and 14 had been registered as Independents.

Back to Boston

One Year After Bombing, Two Baker Men Will Compete In Boston Marathon 

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Mike Knutson, left, and Davey Peterson continue training for the Boston Marathon. The historic event happens Monday. An easy-day workout finds the runners along Best Frontage Road near Baker City.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

Last year’s bombing at the Boston Marathon didn’t deter Baker City’s Mike Knutson and Davey Peterson from signing up for the 2014 race — if anything, it encouraged them to go.

“It’s always a celebration,” Knutson said. “This year, because of last year, will be even more of a celebration.”

The 118th Boston Marathon will be Monday, April 21, which is Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts.

Man found hiding in Dumpster after fleeing Courthouse

A Baker City who bolted and ran from the Baker County Circuit Courtroom Thursday morning was found hiding in an alley Dumpster and taken back into custody just eight minutes later.

Sean Dean Taylor, 23, of 1760 Broadway St., was arrested at 11:38 a.m. He will face additional charges of second-degree escape, a Class C felony; and interfering with a police officer, a Class A misdemeanor, District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said in a press release.

Circuit Court Judge Greg Baxter had just sentenced Taylor to 150 days in jail after his probation was revoked on a conviction for strangulation constituting domestic violence when Taylor fled, Shirtcliff said. He was not in custody at the time of the hearing and was wearing “street clothes,” Shirtcliff said.

Easter egg hunt Saturday


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Baker City’s annual Easter egg hunt is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 19 at Geiser-Pollman Park.

The event is for children ages 3 through 11.

Children should start lining up at 9:45 a.m. in the designated age group areas in the park. The police siren will sound at 10 a.m.

Blooming Again

Baker County’s Eagle Creek Orchard Recovers From 2013 Freeze

Photo by Lisa Britton Asian pear trees are in loaded with blossoms at Eagle Creek Orchard near Richland. But not every flower results in fruit — Rob Cordtz can tell by looking that the flower with a brown center (right) isn’t viable, but the one just to the left appears healthy. Also, the fruit must be thinned to allow room to grow and ensure the limbs don’t break from a heavy load.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

A year ago Rob and Linda Cordtz spent all night watching the temperature plummet in their fruit orchard and trying every frost protection measure they had to save the harvest.

The cold won, resulting in a nearly 100 percent loss.

A year later to the day — April 15 — the couple smile and laugh among trees bursting with blooms and the promise of fruit.

“They grew like crazy. It’s going to be a bumper year,” Rob says.

They own Eagle Creek Orchard near Richland. It has been certified organic with Oregon Tilth since 2008, and this year will be their 10th harvest.

After losing their crop in 2013, the Cordtzes knew they had to upgrade their frost protection system, and were encouraged to fundraise through a crowdsourcing website called Indiegogo. Donations met the goal of $30,000. 

City Council to consider fee increases

By Pat Caldwell

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Baker City residents could face a number of fee hikes in the upcoming year, and many of the price boosts are tied to the annual consumer price index and the city’s fixed debt obligations.

City officials will ask the City Council to approve the full slate of fee increases at its next meeting, April 22.

Officials are recommending price increases in ambulance base rate charges, cemetery, building department and wastewater fees along with a boost in water mainline charges.

Modest price hikes on city fees are common, Finance Director Jeanie Dexter said.

“We set these (fees) every year. Every year some fees change,” Dexter said.

Moon to pull a disappearing act

By Jayson Jacoby

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The moon and the Earth will cooperate.

But will the clouds?

More to the point, will the clouds steer clear of Northeastern Oregon tonight and early Tuesday when the Earth’s shadow obscures the moon, creating a total lunar eclipse.

Tonight’s eclipse, which starts about 10:55 p.m., is the first that’s potentially visible, in its entirety, from Baker City since Dec. 21, 2010.

The total eclipse — when the full moon is completely blocked by the Earth’s shadow — will last for 78 minutes, from 12:06 a.m. until 1:24 a.m.

Intense Training

National Guard Prepares For Major Exercise In 2015

By Pat Caldwell

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The leader of Eastern Oregon’s biggest Guard outfit says this summer’s annual training stint on the high desert south of Boise will be one of the most important since the unit prepared to deploy overseas during the war on terror.

Lt. Col. Brian Dean said Friday that the 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, will perform a number of high-tempo training exercises in August as the unit prepares for a rotation during the summer of 2015 at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, Calif.

The 3rd Battalion consists of Guard units from Baker City, La Grande, Woodburn, Hood River, The Dalles, Hermiston, Pendleton and Ontario. 

“It (Annual Training) will be very intense,” he said. 

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