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Bill could limit city's ability to ban medical marijuana dispensaries


By Pat Caldwell

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A legislative edict originally intended to allow Oregon cities and counties to ban medical marijuana dispensaries cleared the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday in Salem.

Yet Senate Bill 1531 departed the Judiciary Committee with fewer teeth and a softer bark than the version first sponsored by Sens. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) and Rod Monroe (D-Portland). That early version gave cities and counties the power to “regulate or restrict” the operations of a medical marijuana dispensaries.

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Perfectly Polished

Volunteers Paint Fingernails At Settlers Park


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Photo by Lisa Britton Danielle Collard, left, shares a laugh with Marilyn Cummings as she puts a new layer of polish on Marilyn’s nails. Collard and her mother-in-law, Mary, are part of a group of volunteers who paint nails every Monday night at Settlers Park.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

What with the chatter, giggles and scent of nail polish remover, you’d think a slumber party was in full swing at Settlers Park every Monday night.

Except for the absence of pillow fights.

Every Monday evening volunteers arrive at Settlers Park to paint the nails of the residents at this assisted living home in west Baker City.

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‘We risked 17 to save 6’

Baker County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team leader describes effort to rescue survivors of deadly avalanche


By Chris Collins

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The effort to bring two injured backcountry skiers out of the Wallowa Mountains Wednesday was hampered by steep terrain, deep snow and ever-changing weather.

Chris Galiszewski, coordinator of the Baker County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team, said safety was the emphasis throughout the rescue.

“We risked 17 people to save six,” he said of the group that made its way on skis, snowmobiles and snowshoes into the mountains near Little Eagle Meadows, about 10 miles northwest of Halfway. “We did it as safely as we could. Risk management was very much on our minds."

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National Weather Service issues flood watch for Baker County


The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Baker County.

The watch, which means there is the potential for local flooding but none has been reported, is in effect through Saturday afternoon.

A forecast for heavy rain over the next two days, combined with melting snow and frozen ground that can't absorb all the moisture, could result in minor flooding of creeks, ditches and areas with poor drainage, according to the National Weather Service.

More information is available online at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/boi

 

Avalanche victims' names released


Jake Merrill, 23, of Bellingham, Wash., and Shane Coulter, 30, of Seattle, are the two backcountry skiers who were killed by an avalanche Tuesday in the southern Wallowa Mountains of Baker County.
 
Merrill was a guide for Wallowa Alpine Huts of Joseph, and Coulter one of six clients taking a multi-day ski trip with the outfitting company.
 
The Baker County Sheriff's Office included the victims' names in a press release this afternoon.
 
The two injured skiers who were rescued on Wednesday evening are Bruno Bachinger, 40, of Snohomish, Wash., and Suzan Polizzi, 60, of Wenatchee, Wash. Both were flown by helicopter to St. Mary's Trauma Unit in Walla Walla, Wash. 
 
Three skiers who were not hurt are Raymon Pinney, 32, Allan Ponio, 36, and Quinton Dowling, 26, all of Seattle.
 
The eighth member of the group, Chris Edwards-Hill of Enterprise, also a guide for Wallowa Alpine Huts, was not hurt.
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Roadmaster warns travelers of rocks, high water


Photo by Lisa Britton/Crews had to remove ice from Settlers Slough near 18th Street in Baker City to prevent flooding

Baker County Roadmaster Jeff Smith warns drivers to watch for falling rocks and high water on local roads, especially the gravel Burnt River Canyon Road between Bridgeport and Durkee and the southern end of the Snake River Road near Huntington.

"We're having a heck of a time with rocks popping off," Smith said this morning. "That's the biggest issue we have right now."

No roads were closed this morning, he said.

At 10 a.m. he had just dispatched a crew to Deems Loop Road in Sumpter Valley, where a large-diameter culvert had plugged, causing water to flow across the road.

The combination of a rapid thaw and rain dislodges rocks from road cutbanks.

The same conditions have also clogged some local streams and ditches with foot-thick chunks of ice, said Jeff Colton, manager of the Baker Valley Irrigation District.

Colton said he, along with Baker City Public Works Department crews and a local farmer, worked from about 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to pull ice from Settlers Slough near 18th Street in west Baker City.

Tom Fisk of the city's public works department said that before the ice was removed, water had run across 18th Street and into the crawl space of a home on the west side of the street.

Fisk said city crews pumped the water out of that crawl space. 

Fisk said city crews also had to deal with a very unusual problem: frozen storm drains.

He said crews had to use the city's sewer jetter to clear clogged storm drains in an alley at Court Avenue between First and Main streets, and another on L Loop near Birch Street in northeast Baker City.

Colton said he is watching the Powder River to make sure no ice jams form. 

 

 

Walden calls for federal investigation of Cover Oregon


By Andrew Clevenger

WesCom News Service

WASHINGTON — Four members of the House, including Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, on Wednesday called upon the Government Accountability Office to investigate the handling of taxpayer funds by Cover Oregon, the state’s troubled health care exchange.

Although the federal government has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the development of Oregon’s exchange, it was not ready for its Oct. 1 launch and remains unable to enroll users in health care plans online as intended.

“It’s time to get to the truth. It’s time to get transparency and accountability,” Walden told The (Bend) Bulletin on Wednesday. “This cannot be swept under the rug. That’s why I think it’s really important to get an independent look through the GAO, so they can give us a factual view of what transpired and what we can get back."

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Injured skiers being taken by sled toward waiting snow cat

Helicopters are waiting for visibility to improve so they can airlift the injured skiers  


The two backcountry skiers who were seriously injured during an avalanche Tuesday are being hauled out of the mountains by way of ski-sleds, Baker County Undersheriff Warren Thompson said this afternoon.

Rescuers began bringing the two skiers out about 12:22 p.m. today, Thompson said.

Two other skiers, one a client from the Seattle area and the other a guide from Wallowa Alpine Huts of Joseph, were killed in the avalanche.

Four others, three clients and another guide, were not injured. The three clients were rescued Tuesday night.

The uninjured guide stayed with the two injured skiers last night.

According to the Wallowa Avalanche Center's website, at 6:40 p.m. the two injured skiers were nearing Pine Valley. They were to be taken by ambulance to a helicopter waiting in Richland, which will fly them to a Boise hospital.

 

Police Report On Thursday’s Domestic Violence Incident

Woman told police she grabbed handgun when Mack left room


By Chris Collins

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According to court documents, the domestic violence incident that led to the partial closure of Cedar Street and intervention by a tri-county team of police officers began with an argument that started about 12:30 Thursday morning.

More than nine hours later, Dale Myron Patrick Mack, 38, was taken into custody at his home at 3660 Cedar St.

Mack is being held at the Baker County Jail on charges of pointing a firearm at another, fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence, strangulation, menacing and interfering with a peace officer. He was arraigned Friday afternoon on the charges, all of which are misdemeanors.

According to the affidavit in support of a probable cause arrest filed Thursday in Baker County Circuit Court by Baker City Police, the argument escalated to a physical attack that eventually led to gunshots being fired by the woman involved while she tried to get out of Mack’s house.

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Council backs medical pot store restriction


By Pat Caldwell

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The Baker City Council edged closer to approving a prohibition on medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday night during its regular meeting at City Hall.

The Council endorsed the first and second readings of Ordinance 3330, a proposed mandate that would ban medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits.

Now the ordinance will face just one more reading, likely at the Council’s next meeting, Feb. 26. If the council votes to approve the mandate then the ordinance will be on the books. 

The council also reviewed and debated a separate — but related — business license ordinance Tuesday. Ordinance 3331 was also designed to restrict medical marijuana dispensaries by stipulating ventures inside city limits must be in compliance with local, state and federal laws. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

The medical marijuana dispensary discussion gobbled up most of the time at the session and early on it was evident that some councilors have misgivings about the proposal.

While councilors appeared unanimous in their desire to find a way to restrict marijuana dispensaries, some were not sure a business license was the way to do it.

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