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Crews corral Eagle Cap fire

Fire crews have mostly tamed a wildfire in the Eagle Cap Wilderness near Wallowa Lake, but officials say the West Fork fire probably will smolder until the first strong storms of autumn arrive.

The fire, which officials believe was started by people although the investigation continues, has burned 135 acres.

The blaze, reported by hikers one week ago, on Sept. 8, is 45 percent contained.

Receding Reservoir

Drought Shrinks Phillips Reservoir For Second Straight Summer

S. John Collins/Baker City Herald Smoke from regional forest fires lends a fiery glow to a sunset at Phillips Reservoir, southwest of Baker City, earlier this week. The reservoir is about 14 percent full.

By Jayson Jacoby

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Baker County’s Phillips Reservoir is hardly the only body of water in Eastern Oregon that’s looking emaciated on these sunny late summer days.

But this is the first time in nearly a decade that the reservoir, a vital source of irrigation water for Baker Valley farms and ranches, has been so shrunken in consecutive years.

Phillips, a Powder River impoundment about 17 miles southwest of Baker City, has had one lean year in the past 10.

Baker Schools Superintendent discusses state test results

By Chris Collins

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State school test results, released Wednesday by the Oregon Department of Education, are just one gauge of student performance, says Superintendent Walt Wegener.

And not one that particularly guides the Baker School District’s improvement efforts, he added.

“We have our own internal diagnostics that are useful and inform our teaching,” he said.

Wednesday’s test results showed little change in Baker School District student performance.

Wyden bill would help fathers of soldiers killed or severely wounded

Bill, which passed the Senate Wednesday, was prompted by Wyden's conversation with Steve Ellis, former supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Baker City 

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is sponsoring a bill that would ensure any unmarried parent whose child is killed in action while serving in the military or is left permanently disabled would receive a preference when applying for a federal job.

The Senate passed the bill, S.2323, on Wednesday.

Wyden was prompted to draft the bill after a conversation with Steve Ellis, former supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Baker City.

Ellis’ daughter, Cpl. Jessica Ellis, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2008 while she was serving in the U.S. Army.

Scare At School

Student Arrested After Bomb Threat Note Found At Baker Middle School

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Officers from Baker City Police, sheriff’s office and Oregon State Police searched Baker Middle School due to a bomb threat Tuesday morning. Students were not in the building at the time, and nothing was found.

By Chris Collins

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A 13-year-old Baker Middle School boy is being held in juvenile detention at The Dalles on a charge of first-degree disorderly conduct, accused of leaving a note that stated there was a bomb in the school.

Baker City Police learned of the threat at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday after a janitor discovered the note in a boys bathroom on the second floor of the Helen M. Stack Building, said Police Chief Wyn Lohner.

Police and public works crews barricaded streets surrounding the school and plans were made to bus students to Baker High School as they arrived at the middle school Tuesday morning. The school served bagged breakfasts to some, while others ate just across the street at the Presbyterian Church’s Open Door free breakfast program, which starts at 7 a.m. each school day.


Kee says he received crypto report in late June

By Jayson Jacoby

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Baker City Manager Mike Kee said today that he received a copy of the Oregon Health Authority’s report about the city’s 2013 crypto outbreak in late June of this year.

Kee said recently that he hadn’t seen that report until late August.

Although he acknowledged that a state health official emailed him a link to the report on June 26, Kee said today that he apparently didn’t read the report at that time.

“I don’t know that I looked at that then,” Kee said.

New fire closes trails in Eagle Cap Wilderness

A new wildfire has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to close two popular trails in the Eagle Cap Wilderness south of Wallowa Lake.
The West Fork fire, of undetermined cause, has burned about 150 acres since it was reported Monday.
The fire is burning in the West Fork of Adam Creek, about eight miles south of Joseph.
The Forest Service has closed the West Fork Wallowa River trail from its junction with the Chief Joseph Trail, just south of Wallowa Lake, to the Six Mile Meadow junction. The Ice Lake trail also is closed.

Student arrested in Baker Middle School bomb threat

A 13-year-old Baker Middle School student was arrested this morning and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly leaving a note at the school claiming there was a bomb in the building.

Classes, which normally start at 7:55, were delayed until about 8:30 a.m. while police searched the school. They didn't find anything suspicious.

The note was found in an upstairs boys bathroom at the school. 

The student, a boy, was arrested at 8:43 a.m. and will be taken to the juvenile detention facility in The Dalles.

Disorderly conduct is a Class A misdemeanor. 

Middle School staff suspected the student based on the his behavior on Monday, according to a press release from the Baker City Police Department.

That suspicion led Baker City Police Lt. Kirk McCormick to interview the student. 

After the bomb threat was found, Baker City Police arrived and secured the building at about 6:40 a.m., with the assistance of Baker City Public Works crews who placed barricades, shutting off street access around the middle school. 

While the Baker 5J School District coordinated the diversion of students and staff away from the middle school, law enforcement personnel from the Oregon State Police, Baker County Sheriff’s Office and Baker City Police Department arrived at the Command Post to organize search teams. 

At about 7:30 a.m., five search teams consisting of law enforcement personnel and school district employees began a search of the building and its grounds. At about 8:15 a.m. all five teams reported back to the command post with nothing suspicious located. The building was then released back to the school, while Law Enforcement secured the area where the message was located.


Against The Grain

Great Salt Lick Contest And Auction Coming Soon

Photo by Whit Deschner Artist at work: A horse puts the finishing touches on a possible entry in the annual Great Salt Lick Contest.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

This year’s Great Salt Lick contest and auction — themed “Poor Poor Lickable Me” — happens Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Events Center, 2600 East St. in Baker City.

Viewing and judging starts at 5 p.m., followed by refreshments, beer by Barley Brown’s and wine from Copper Belt. 

The auction begins at 7 p.m. with auctioneer Mib Daily.

Pocahontas Road repaving scheduled

Crews are scheduled to grind away the existing asphalt this Thursday on Pocahontas Road between 10th Street and the railroad tracks.

The section of road is slated to be repaved on Sept. 22 and 23.

Traffic will be restricted from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 11.

During the repaving on Sept. 22, the center and north lanes of Pocahontas will be closed during those hours, and on Sept. 23 the south lane will be closed.

Rain or other inclement weather could delay the work.

A traffic plan will be posted on the city’s website, www.bakercity.com. More information is available by calling 541-524-2063 or 541-524-2046.

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