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La Grande man walking across U.S. in honor of son is hit, killed by truck

Joe Bell, the La Grande man who embarked on a walk across America this spring to honor his son, Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old who killed himself after being bullied at school, was hit and killed by a semi-truck on a Colorado highway Wednesday evening.

 A Facebook page chronicling Joe Bell's journey — Joe's Walk For Change — had a post this morning about his death.

"He will continue his journey now with Jadin. Please keep his family in your prayers and thoughts," the Facebook post said.

A Colorado Springs TV station posted a story on its website saying that although police had not announced the victim's name, he was a 48-year-old man from La Grande who was killed when he was struck by a truck driven by Kenneth Raven, 49, of a Bryan, Texas, trucking company.

The victim was walking east on the shoulder of Highway 40, 20 miles northwest of Kit Carson, Colo., when he was hit about 5:10 p.m. local time, according to KKTV.com.

State troopers said Raven might have fallen asleep at the wheel. He was cited for careless driving resulting in death, according to the TV station.

Jadin Bell, who was openly gay, had been bullied at La Grande High School before he completed suicide, according to friends and relatives.

Joe Bell said he planned to walk across the story and tell his son's story to as many people as he could. 


Suspect named in fatal shootings near Granite

Dillan Easley, 14, of Baker City, is the suspect in the Oct. 3 killings of two Baker City men, one of them his foster father, at a cabin near Granite.

Grant County District Attorney Ryan Joslin has charged Easley with two counts of aggravated murder, the Blue Mountain Eagle reported this morning.

Easley, who accidentally shot himself in the leg, was released from the hospital and is in custody at a facility in The Dalles.

He is accused of fatally shooting his foster father, Michael Piete, 43, and Kenneth C. Gilliland, 64, during a hunting trip. The shootings happened at a cabin that Gilliland's brother owns about nine miles southwest of Granite.

Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said that because Easley is 14, he can't automatically be charged as an adult.

Instead, Joslin will have to file a motion to have Easley remanded to adult court. 


Father Julian Cassar moving on

Lisa Britton / For the Baker City Herald Father Julian Cassar, who has served as pastor at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City for the past eight years, is leaving on Oct. 17 to serve as pastor for a pair of churches in Bend.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

Father Julian Cassar looks out at the sanctuary, empty on this Friday afternoon.

He points to the first pew, naming the family who always sits there.

He can tell you where most of his parishioners sit during Mass at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, where he’s been rector for eight years.

On Oct. 17, he is moving to Bend, where he will be pastor of St. Francis of Assisi.

“He wants me there, so I’ll go,” he says, referencing Bishop Liam Cary of the Baker Diocese. “It’s at the bishop’s discretion. I knew I’d leave here — he’d need me somewhere else."


Federal staff a small segment of local workforce

Federal salaries are well above average, however

By Jayson Jacoby

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The federal government shutdown, now in its second week, affects about 250 full-time employees in Baker County.

According to the Oregon Employment Department, the federal government employs fewer people in Baker County than either the state government (280 workers as of August) or local governments (610 workers).

Federal employees account for 4.9 percent of the nonfarm workforce in Baker County.

The potential economic effect of the shutdown could be more significant than the number of jobs suggests, however.

That’s because the average salary for federal employees in the county is almost twice as much as the average for the private sector.


Goodye, Oscar

Baker County Library’s Aquatic Mascot Dies 

Submitted photo Oscar, a Flowerhorn cichlid fish that has delighted visitors to the Baker County Public Library for nine years, died on Oct. 2.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

Oscar, the fish that entertained countless children at the Baker County Public Library, died Oct. 2.

He was a Flowerhorn cichlid, and unique in that he seemed to interact with the children standing near the aquarium.

At 9 years old, Oscar had outlived the typical lifespan of this species, which is 3 to 5 years, said Melissa Shafer.

“I took him home and buried him in the flower garden, so he could continue to bring joy and beauty as a flower.  He was a FLOWERhorn after all,” she said.


Shooting victim had worked as snowplow driver in Baker County

By Chris Collins and Jayson Jacoby

Baker City Herald

Michael Piete, one of two Baker County men who were shot to death at a cabin near Granite late Wednesday, had worked as a seasonal snowplow driver in Baker County for two winters several years ago.

Piete, 43, along with his uncle, Kenneth C. Gilliland, 64, were killed during a deer-hunting trip in Grant County.

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said a 14-year-old boy who is Piete’s foster son is the suspect.

The teenager, whose name has not been released, accidentally shot himself in his right leg but he is expected to recover, Palmer said Friday.


Shooting victims identified

The two Baker County men who were shot to death at a cabin near Granite late Wednesday night have been identified as Michael Piete, 43, and Kenneth C. Gilliland, 64.

Piete was the foster father of the 14-year-old boy suspected of shooting the men, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said today.  

The two men lived on Dry Creek Road off Highway 30 southeast of Baker City, Palmer said.

He declined to release the suspect’s name because of his age.

One victim was shot inside the cabin and the other was shot outside, he said.

The three were staying with two others at a cabin at a deer camp on private land off Forest Road 1305 about nine miles southwest of Granite. The cabin is owned by Bill Gilliland of Tidewater, a community on the Alsea River near Waldport on the Oregon Coast. He is Kenneth Gilliland’s brother. 


Neff family tradition continues

By Chris Collins

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Nathan Neff has spent most of his life preparing to lead a congregation as its pastor.

In a special service at 7 o’clock tonight at the church where he grew up and attended private school classes taught by his parents, the 32-year-old will be ordained and transition to the role of leading the congregation of the Apostolic Lighthouse Church.

“It’s part of our culture,” he said of his call to the pulpit. “It’s who I am. I grew up loving God and wanting to serve him.”

As an apostolic Pentecostal church, the 25 to 30 people who attend regularly are “apostolic in doctrine and we are Pentecostal in experience,” Nathan Neff explains.

 Members aim to follow the doctrines established by the apostles in the New Testament of the Bible and that includes receiving the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and separating themselves from the world, he said.

Nathan is the oldest of Nate and Gewnett Neff’s two sons. Brian, 31, lives at Billings, Mont., where he works as an estimator for an electrical company.

The 59-year-old Nate Neff, who passed the 25-year mark as pastor of the Lighthouse Church at Seventh and Broadway streets on April 10, said his son began preparing for the transition about two years ago.

And while Nate won’t actually be retiring, he’ll serve the Lighthouse Church in a different capacity in the future. He will oversee his son’s work in the role of bishop and he and his wife will travel to other apostolic Pentecostal churches.


Two Baker County men shot dead near Granite

Two Baker County men were shot to death at a cabin near Granite late Wednesday night.

Grant County District Attorney Ryan Joslin declined to release the victims’ names this morning pending notification of family members. He also withheld the name of the juvenile suspect.

In a press release issued today, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer stated the preliminary investigation indicates that the men were shot and killed by a 14-year-old boy.


Area braces for impact of federal shutdowns

By Terri Harber

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At least the mail will be delivered as usual.

The United States Postal Service is an independent branch of the U.S. government so the shutdown that began Tuesday doesn’t apply.

Programs and services provided by the city, county and school district aren’t likely to be significantly affected immediately either. 

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