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N. Powder couple pleads not guilty to sex crime charges


LA GRANDE — Joe and Faith Miller, the North Powder couple accused of sex crimes, both pleaded not guilty to all charges against them Monday afternoon in Union County Circuit Court.

Joe Miller, 69, and his wife Faith Miller, 55, pleaded not guilty to all total of 32 counts of alleged sex charges. 

The total includes charges of first-degree rape, 2 counts; first-degree sodomy 2 counts; unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree, 1 count; first-degree sex abuse, 4 counts; second-degree sex abuse, 4 counts; third-degree sex abuse, 4 counts; sexual misconduct, 4 counts; contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor, 4 counts and first-degree criminal mistreatment, 2 counts.

The Millers were arrested April 25 by the Union County Sheriff’s Office following an April 23 joint secret indictment warrant, according to court documents. The crimes allegedly took place between June 2011 and July 2013.


Snow Basin project held up

By Katy Nesbitt

WesCom News Service

La Grande — An appeals court decision is forcing the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to create more protection for elk within the 29,000-acre Snow Basin logging project area.

 A lawsuit filed in 2012 sought protection for not only elk, but also endangered bull trout. The appeals court upheld the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision that there is sufficient data proving bull trout were extirpated from the streams within the project area decades ago and further protection measures were unnecessary. However, the court did order the Forest to provide supplemental information that would ensure protection for elk from vehicular travel.

Baker County intervened in the case, siding with the Forest. 

“I was disappointed that the Ninth Circuit reversed their decision,” Fred Warner Jr., Baker County Board of Commissioners Chairman, said Thursday. “Hopefully the Forest Service can do a supplemental environmental impact statement and get everything going.”

See more in the May 16 issue of the Baker City Herald. 


Two-year effort pays off

 

Turf is rolled out with the help of volunteers and supervisors from the playground and surfacing companies. From left is Jayson Jacoby, David Schildknecht and Manuel Garcia. Standing in baker is Elaine Sheerman, who developed the surfacing system called SMARTE. (Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald)

By Pat Caldwell

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The project began, really, with mud. 

And dirt. 

And old playground equipment.

The idea to produce new playground equipment for Geiser-Pollman Park in Baker City was fueled by a muffled sense of frustration for a group of local mothers who decided one day to get involved and to initiate change.

They didn’t know exactly how they were going to accomplish their goal; they didn’t have any money; they didn’t have a firm plan. All they really knew was that they were tired of traveling to one of Baker City’s beautiful parks and watching their children play in mud, dirt and on antiquated playground equipment.

See more in the May 16 issue of the Baker City Herald.


Regional jobs still lagging

By Pat Caldwell

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Two elected city officials agreed the local area faces challenges regarding economic development but conceded the best way government can help in the effort to spark expansion is to stay out of the way.

Baker City Mayor Richard Langrell and City Councilor Kim Mosier both said local government entities should be supportive of business development but should also be careful not to create needless roadblocks on the road to expansion.

Langrell said he remains uneasy regarding how much — and for how long — city government should be involved with economic development.

“I’ve always had mixed feelings about the city of Baker being in the economic development department. I kind of look at the city, the city’s job is to provide safe drinking water, sewer service, roads to drive on, police and fire. The city should be supportive of everyone who wants to start something in town,” Langrell said.

See more in today's Baker City Herald.


Keeping it green

 

A long-term goal for Quail Ridge Golf Course is to update the irrigation system to make it more efficient. (Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald

By Pat Caldwell

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An effort to establish a preliminary plan to replace portions of the outdated irrigation system at the Quail Ridge Golf Course might secure more than a rudimentary review next week when the Baker City Budget Committee convenes to chart the fiscal future.

Irrigation system snags at the course are not a recent development and city officials want to at least secure funds to craft a feasibility study to tackle the challenge during the budget committee sessions next week. Baker City Manager Mike Kee said city staff has already adopted tentative steps toward shaping a viable plan.

“We’ve taken a step this year in the budget and in the proposed budget and have put a project out there to begin the planning for an irrigation system. It (the irrigation system) is not a new problem,” Kee said. At issue is the irrigation system that services portions of the original nine — dubbed the “old nine” — holes of the course constructed by the Depression-era Work Projects Administration in the mid-1930s. The irrigation system for that portion of the course was positioned in the early 1970. 

See more in today's issue of the Baker City Herald. 


Baker girl’s patriotic poster wins top honor

Heather Mazzagotte's poster has advanced to the state level of the VFW's Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest. (Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald)

A Baker High School senior has been awarded $200 for a poster she produced as part of the Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest.

Heather Mazzagotte’s poster next will advance to the state level, said Jodi Thomas of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary.

The contest was sponsored by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, No. 3048, in Baker City.

See more in today's Baker City Herald. 


Airports serve vital role

Airports like the Baker Municipal Airport serve a vital role in local economies. (Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald)

By Pat Caldwell

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Annually, elected and appointed officials dig into the newest sack of potential economic development solutions but one visible and conceivable — not to mention well-established — engine of expansion seems to hide within plain sight.

Airports, even small rural airfields, furnish a host of economic development possibilities and often function as a low-key, but steady, mechanism that drives growth and opens up overlooked avenues to prosperity.

“I think airports are vital to economic development. I think that goes without saying,” Baker City Manager Mike Kee said.

Kee basically serves as the city’s airport manager, though he said much of the day-to-day oversight of the facility is handled by the city’s public works department. 

Aviation produces big dollars for Oregon, according to statistics from the Oregon Department of Aviation. ODA statistics show that aviation creates a $24 billion impact on the state’s economy. The federal government — and the state — also pour a lot of money into aviation. 

See more in today's edition of the Baker City Herald. 


North Powder School Board sets May 20 meeting

The North Powder School Board will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 20.

The agenda includes discussion of the Community Facilities Grant, the school’s early graduation policy and its chemistry program.  

 

 

 


Former city councilor hopes contest will boost dog park plan

Read more...

By Pat Caldwell

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Currently there are no dog parks in Baker City but former city councilor Gail Duman wants to change that.

She made one giant leap forward recently toward her goal by entering Baker City in a contest sponsored by PetSafe.net.

The first place winner will secure $100,000 to help construct a dog park. Voting on the web site kicked off May 7 and runs through June 7. Then PetSafe will pick 15 finalists for another round of voting to garner the top prize. Interested individuals can vote for their city on the PetSafe.net web site twice a day. 


Warm Heart(h)s

Read more...
The Northeast Oregon Compassion Center’s firewood ministry gathered more than 450 cords last year. The organization gave away 250 cords, helping more than 100 local families who use wood as their main source of heat.

  By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

Ian Howarth never knows what will happen when he shows up at the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center, where he serves on the board of directors.

Especially these days with the new firewood ministry going strong.

“I show up and he says ‘grab some gloves,’ ” Howarth says of Cliff Cole, the center’s director.

 


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