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Baker School Board balks at goals report

The decision doesn’t affect the district’s controversial new curriculum for math instruction, however

By Chris Collins

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The Baker School Board has declined to endorse a school district report that sets “aspirational goals” designed to close the achievement gap and bring all students up to benchmark standards.

Although the district has submitted the report to the Oregon Department of Education, the board, on a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, refused to sign off on the plan. Directors Andrew Bryan, Richard McKim and Kyle Knight voted no. Kevin Cassidy and Chris Hawkins voted in favor.

The rejection came despite Superintendent Walt Wegener’s explanation that the board, by law, is excluded from being involved in developing what’s known as an “achievement compact."

12% have returned ballots

Slightly more than 12 percent of Baker County’s 9,894 registered voters — 1,221 — had returned their ballots for the Nov. 4 general election as of this morning, Baker County Clerk Tami Green said.

The deadline to return ballots is 8 p.m. on election day.

Ballots that haven’t been mailed by late next week should be hand-delivered to the Courthouse, 1995 Third St., or taken to a drop-off site. 

The ballot box on the west side of the Courthouse is open 24 hours per day.

Soroptimists donate $1,000 for for MayDay victims safe house

The MayDay, Inc. safe house for victims of domestic violence is better able to serve clients thanks to a generous donation from the Baker County chapter of Soroptimist International.  The club paid nearly $1,000 for repairs after the shelter home was damaged by flooding in its basement.

The home provides temporary housing for victims while they find longer-term accomodations.  Food and personal items are provided because clients often leave their homes quickly in order to escape abusive situations, according to Milli Joseph, MayDay’s executive director.

Write-ins without ‘Jr.’ after Warner won’t count

By Jayson Jacoby

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Voters who write in Fred Warner Jr. for Baker County Commission chairman won’t have their vote count for him if they leave out the “Jr.” as part of his name.

County Clerk Tami Green said she posed the question to state elections officials after she learned some voters intended to write in Warner on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Cutting A Deal

Private forest owners form cooperative to sell timber to Boise Cascade 

Baker City Herald File Photo/Ed Merriman A new cooperative formed by private forest owners in Baker County will make it easier, and more profitable, for owners here and in Union and Wallowa counties to sell their timber.

By Chris Collins

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Private woodland owners in Baker, Union and Wallowa counties will receive premium prices for their timber this winter thanks to an agreement forged with Boise Cascade last month.

The agreement came about with the formation of the Blue Mountain Woodland Cooperative, which has been 12 years in the making, said Bob Parker, Extension forester.

The co-op was formed by members of the Baker County Small Woodlands Association. Many of the same people serve in leadership roles in both organizations.

Gas leak leaves Sam-O Swim chilly

By Chris Collins

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Swimmers were forced to take cold showers Tuesday at Sam-O Swim Center and the air temperature was a bit cooler than usual, but no one was in danger as a result of natural gas leaks detected by YMCA staff, Baker City Manager Mike Kee said Wednesday.

Natural gas that fuels the hot water system and the boiler were turned off while the issue was investigated and repairs were made. The city-owned pool remained heated during that period.

Heidi Dalton, the YMCA’s chief executive officer, said the pool did not close and most swimmers showed up as usual. They simply took a quick cold shower as required before entering the pool and then showered at home after swimming, she said.

Swimming lessons, water aerobics, swim team practice and lap swimming are scheduled Monday through Thursday at the pool.

Police arrest Baker man for allegedly having sexually explicit conversations online with teenager

Baker City Police officers on Wednesday arrested a 45-year-old Baker City man who allegedly had sexually explicit conversations online with a 16-year-old Baker City girl.

Arnold Roger Skeels, 3100 H St., is charged with Luring a Minor, a Class C Felony; and with Online Sexual Corruption of a Child II, also a Class C Felony.

Skeels was arrested at the Baker City Police Department following an interview.

This investigation began on Oct. 7 when the parents of the 16-year-old girl discovered sexually explicit conversations their daughter was having on her iPod through a “Whisper” account, with an unknown adult male.

Baker City Police proceeded with the investigation utilizing the assistance of an Oregon Department of Justice Investigator, who is affiliated with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), a national organization. With ICAC’s guidance, a BCPD Police Officer created a Whisper account, portraying a 15-year-girl and carried on numerous conversations with Skeels, which led to his arrest.

The Baker City Police Department would like to remind all parents that there are numerous threats to our children thorough the various social media sites that exist today. For your children’s safety, please remind them of those threats and monitor their activities with social media.

Volunteers repair veterans graves at Mount Hope

A three-year effort to repair veterans graves at Mount Hope Cemetery is entering its final phase, says Dennis Teskey, who spearheaded the volunteer project.

Teskey and his wife are owners of Teskey Inc., the parent company of Gray’s West & Co. and Stone Tributes.

After becoming involved in the project at the request of Joyce Bornstedt, the city’s cemetery manager, Teskey recruited his fellow Rotary  Club members and other community residents to help with the project.

Street of (bad) Dreams

Second Street Neighbors Don’t Skimp On Halloween Decorations 

S. John Collins/Baker City Herald: Molly McCray continues fine-tuning a clown character that will surprise visitors in the darkness of Halloween. She says her mother, Lori Bertalotto, is the one behind the family's annual haunting on Second Street.

Larry and Claudia Christian delight in every wide-eyed child who walks past their house, and every car that slows down to look at their display of Halloween decorations.

“We just love to do it, and love the kids coming by and looking at it,” Larry said. “We do it for the community.”

The Christians live at the corner of Second and Estes streets in the house that was, many years ago, the Langrell Mortuary.


Warner says he would accept another term if he won as write-in

He Won't Actively Campaign, However 

Fred Warner Jr., chairman of the Baker County Board of Commissioners who lost the Republican primary this May to Bill Harvey, said he would accept another term were he re-elected as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 4 election.

Warner said he is not actively campaigning for another four-year term.

But he said several people have asked him about write-in votes. Warner said he told them he would accept the job if he won.

Harvey defeated Warner in the Republican primary by almost 500 votes, 1,752 to 1,256.

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