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Baker police arrest woman on animal neglect charge

Baker City Police this morning arrested a 30-year-old woman on charges of first-degree animal neglect and initiating a false report.

Marcia Shelynn Studebaker, 2431 Campbell St., is accused of filing a false report after her dog was hit by a car and broke both its forelegs.

Police said Studebaker reported on Aug. 4 that she had kept the dog overnight and that its owner had abandoned the dog.

Forest Service discourages travel on section of Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway due to fire

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is discouraging drivers from traveling a roughly 10-mile section of Forest Road 73, the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway, near the Badger Butte 2 fire about four miles southwest of Anthony Lakes.

The road will be barricaded at times to accommodate fire crews.

The barricades will be set up at the junction with Forest Road 380, which leads to Peavy Cabin, and at the Anthony Lakes Ski Area.

The byway is open from Baker Valley to Anthony Lake and the Forest Service campground there, as well as to the Elkhorn Crest trailhead. 

Road 380 to Peavy Cabin, a Forest Service rental cabin, remains open. 

The Badger Butte 2 fire, originally estimated at 50 acres, is now pegged at about 25 acres.

About 120 people are working on the fire, which burned throughout Monday night, according to the Forest Service.

A fire camp is set up in the parking lot at the Anthony Lakes ski area. 

City Council to consider repaving section of Pocahontas Road this year

The Baker City Council will discuss a proposal during its meeting tonight that would allow the city to repave a section of Pocahontas Road this summer.

The deal would require the city to postpone chip-sealing of several city streets until 2015.

The Council meets at 7 p.m.  at City Hall, 1655 First St.

Emergency Surgery


Demolition Derby Demands Speedy Work By Mechanics

Coby Hutzler / Baker City Herald Andy Johnson, left, and Kurt Hills work to repair Hills’ car between heats Saturday. Drivers and teams had about an hour between heats to attend to their vehicles before resuming their dirty work in the arena.

By Coby Hutzler

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The Baker County Fair wrapped up with a muddy and smoky demolition derby at the fairgrounds on Saturday evening.

J.R. Streifel, one of the organizers, said 1,100 spectators attended. 

“It was an awesome crowd,” he said, adding that there was standing room only. “We’d love to be able to have more seats."


Fire crews in short supply

And with widespread lightning forecast this week, more blazes are likely

By Jayson Jacoby

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With a new 50-acre fire burning on the west side of the Elkhorns, and widespread thunderstorms forecast to batter the region with lightning, firefighters are bracing for a hectic week.

And for the possibility that there won’t be enough crews to handle every new blaze.

With more than a dozen major fires burning in several western states, most fire crews are already spoken for.

Water Worries

Baker County Commissioners Approve Drought Emergency Declaration

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Cattle along Chandler Lane in Baker Valley hang close to water as summer heat continues.

By Pat Caldwell

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Baker County Commission Chairman Fred Warner Jr. said the drought declaration inked Wednesday at the Courthouse will help local agriculture producers secure faster access to any federal or state relief programs.

The Baker County commissioners signed off on the drought declaration at its regular meeting, an administrative action that resonates in terms of the impact of drought across the state and the western Great Basin.

Searching for a viable method to battle drought conditions is now nearly a yearly challenge, Warner said.

“We’ve been in and out of drought the last four or five years,” he said.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor index in Lincoln, Nebraska, a large swath of Southeastern Oregon — including most of Malheur County — is currently in either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. Much of Baker County has waded into either “moderate” or “severe” drought — the more severe conditions prevailing in the southern part of the county.

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

Wallowa-Whitman tightens fire restrictions

Chain saws for firewood cutting prohibited; campfires restricted 

Due to persistent hot, dry weather and increasing fire danger, starting tonight at midnight, campfires on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest will be allowed only in designated campgrounds and recreation sites, and using chain saws for firewood cutting will be prohibited.
Campfires are still allowed, however, in the following wilderness areas: Eagle Cap, North Fork John Day, Monument Rock and Hells Canyon.
Year-round restrictions on campfires — for instance, they're not allowed within 1/4-mile of some lakes in the Eagle Cap — remain in effect. 
No off-road travel on motor vehicles is allowed, including on roads blocked by a gate, barricade, log, boulders or earthern berm.
A full list of of restrictions is available at: www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman and also by toll-free phone call at 541-523-1234.

Travels In China

Award-Winning Teacher Nanette Lehman

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Nanette Lehman, 2013 Oregon Teacher of the Year, talks about her recent return from an education-based trip to China.

By Chris Collins

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Nanette Lehman’s life has been changed in ways she never expected over the past year and a half.

Lehman, 46, traveled across the country during 2013 as the Oregon Teacher of the Year and this summer, though her reign as the state’s top teacher ended in January, Lehman traveled around the globe en route to a 10-day visit to China as part of the honor.

The adventure began in November 2012 when the Haines second-grade teacher was named the Oregon Teacher of the Year. Her term officially began in January 2013.

Along the way, Lehman got to know other teachers who were selected for the honor from their states. She was asked to speak to other teachers and in other school districts, her counsel was sought on matters of school reform and she even attended Space Camp in Alabama with her fellow award-winning teachers.

In April 2013, the teachers traveled to Washington, D.C., where they were recognized for their expertise in a ceremony at the White House where they met personally with President Barack Obama.

Lehman was one of eight Teachers of the Year who were among 34 educators chosen to participate in the 2014 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship, which culminated with the trip to China this summer.

The fellowship recipients were recognized in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 7 during the annual NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala. 

West Nile virus confirmed in mosquitoes trapped in Keating Valley

West Nile virus was detected in two pools of mosquitoes collected on July 21 in Keating Valley.

This is the first detection of West Nile virus in Baker County in 2014.

Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Corvallis confirmed the positive mosquito pools, Matt Hutchinson, manager of the Baker Valley Vector Control District, announced in a press release.

The virus has not been found in any birds, horses or people in Baker County this year.

Hutchinson said the Vector Control District, which receives its operating money from a pair of property tax levies, "will increase surveillance and control measures within the district in response to the positive mosquito pool."

County Commissioners declare drought emergency

The Baker County Board of Commissioners ratified a declaration of a drought emergency in the county during their meeting this morning.

The local drought disaster declaration is the first step in potentially obtaining state and federal disaster aid.

Last year county commissioners declared a drought emergency much earlier — on June 5.

The county will forward its declaration to Gov. John Kitzhaber, who will decide whether to add Baker County to the list of Oregon counties under a state disaster declaration.

Baker County commissioners also approved drought declarations in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

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