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Memorial Day service planned at Mount Hope Cemetery

A Memorial Day ceremony is planned for Monday, May 26 starting at 11 a.m. at Mount Hope Cemetery on South Bridge Street in Baker City.

Chaplain Jerry Shaw of VFW Post No. 3048 will give the opening prayer.

Dale Dodge of the American Legion will be master of ceremonies.

A lunch at the VFW Memorial Club, 2005 Valley Ave., will follow the ceremony.

Major meteor shower possible Friday night

Skywatchers might get a treat late Friday and early Saturday with an unexpected meteor showers that could rival the better known annual displays such as the Perseid and Leonid showers.

The Earth will be passing through debris left by the comet 209P/Linear more than 200 years ago.

Although astronomers say there's no guarantee, this could produce one of the most active meteor showers in decades in the U.S.

If that happens, the peak viewing time would be between 10:30 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. Saturday.

The other factor, of course, is weather.

The National Weather Service is forecasting cloudy skies Friday night, but that forecast could change. 


May’s Pretty Mess

Dampest day since December litters sidewalks with tree blossoms 

Chris Collins/Baker City Herald Heavy rain on Sunday stripped most of the blossoms from flowering plum trees along Court Avenue between First and Second streets. A total of .30 of an inch of rain fell at the Baker City Airport, making Sunday the wettest day of the month. It was also the highest daily total since Dec. 20, 2013. That day’s total of .41 of an inch came in the form of snow, however.

By Jayson Jacoby

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May was seriously in arrears, rain-wise.

And despite Sunday’s heavy showers, it still is.

A total of .30 of an inch of rain fell during the day at the Baker City Airport.

It was the dampest day not only for the month, but since Dec. 20, 2013, when a snowstorm pummeled the airport with the liquid equivalent of .41 of an inch.

Sunday’s deluge was hardly unusual for May.

It is statistically speaking the wettest month in Baker County, with an average of 1.46 inches of rain.

(June, by the way, ranks second, at 1.31 inches. Those two months combine for disproportionate share of the yearly rainfall, accounting for 27 percent of the annual average of 10.13 inches.)

So far, though, this May has failed to fulfill its rainy reputation.

Even after Sunday the monthly total is a paltry .47 of an inch.

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


Mayor: City needs to cut personnel costs

Mayor Richard Langrell says city spends too much, but City Manager Mike Kee said workforce has shrunk

By Pat Caldwell

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The Baker City Budget Committee will kick off a series of meetings tonight to review the city’s financial plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Along with the tonight’s 6 o’clock session at City Hall, 1655 First St., budget meetings are slated for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, at the same time and place, if needed. The budget committee consists of the City Council and seven citizen members. 

The city staff will present an overall, proposed budget of about $19 million – including $5.9 in the general fund account, which includes the police and fire departments and city administration.

At least one member of the council said Friday that he will be going into the sessions with one specific goal.

“The employee costs are still out of line,” Mayor Richard Langrell said. “And even though last year the City Council’s No. 1 goal was to reduce employee costs, the city manager has not followed the council’s goals.”

Kee said that at least as far as he is concerned the city has addressed personnel costs.

“I think we are doing a real decent job controlling labor costs,” he said. 

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

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. 

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