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McEwen church to send 150 ‘Operation Christmas Child’ boxes this year


Gwen Zacharias, near left, and Phyllis Hammer add more articles to the care packages that will be sent worldwide to young children as part of Operation Christmas Child. (Photo by Lisa Britton)

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

The dolls, measuring about 5 inches high, came with no clothes.

Not a problem for Lyla Young, who came up with a pattern to knit dresses and hats — in all sorts of colors and designs — for these dolls that will be tucked in care packages and sent around the world.

This is the sixth year that McEwen Bible Fellowship has participated in Operation Christmas Child, a program of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, which was started by Franklin Graham. People fill shoeboxes with supplies that are then shipped to areas hit by a natural disaster and distributed to children.

The church at McEwen, 23 miles southwest of Baker City on Highway 7, has a membership of 60 to 70.

The first year, the members made up 20 boxes. They’ve increased the number each year, and in November 2013, they sent 145.

“We’re going to do at least 150 this year,” said Gwen Zacharias.

The church has provided a small room to store all the items gathered for the boxes: notebooks, soap, toys, mittens, socks, shirts, combs, brushes, coloring books, washcloths, crayons and more.

The boxes — actually plastic bins with recloseable lids — are packed and labeled with “boy” or “girl” and the intended age range (2-4, 5-9 and 10-14).

Items are collected all year, and the finished boxes are mailed in mid-November. Postage costs $7 per box. Before the final shipment, a Bible story is tucked into each package.

This year will include those dolls with the fancy clothes.

“We’re so blessed to have so many talented people,” said Phyllis Hammer.


Bentz disappointed with short legislative session

By Pat Caldwell

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Oregon District 60 state Representative Cliff Bentz doesn’t mince words regarding how he felt the recent short session of the state Legislature went down.

The Ontario resident who represents Baker, Grant, Harney, and Malheur counties along with a portion of Lake County said the recent session that ended March 7 was a disappointment.

“I think that is a good word for it,” he said Friday.

Bentz, who voted against the effort to establish the short legislative session, said the narrow timeframe — just 25 days — often translates into an attempt to find quick fixes to intricate issues. Complicated legislative challenges, he said, deserve ample time to be reviewed by both parties. That means conducting hearings and furnishing public input. 

“When you count the number of bills, I mean you have bills all over the place,” he said.

The other challenge, Bentz said, a short session spawns is that often elected leaders utilize the legislative time to campaign for office.

Baker City’s Efforts To Attract ShopKo

By Pat Caldwell

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Recently Baker County Economic Development Director Greg Smith took a tour of Baker City. 

A late-afternoon tour. In a car. Going street by street.

Smith wasn’t participating in a laid-back excursion to see the sights. He knows Baker City fairly well as it is. No, Smith was looking for something that would fit the needs of a major firm considering making a big investment here.

“We were driving down every street in the city. Drove two hours,” Smith said.

In the end Smith’s effort to attract national retailer ShopKo to Baker City foundered.

Business balance

Economic Development In Baker City

S. John Collins/Baker City Herald Tabor Clarke, who owns a Main Street jewelry store, says finding your niche in a slow-growth population area like Baker County is a key to sustaining a business. He believes quality of life offered here should be a critical motivator when trying to attract new families and businesses to Baker City and the area

By Pat Caldwell

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Safeguarding successful local businesses while simultaneously focusing on potential leads regarding firms outside the area are the two key ingredients to success for Greg Smith, Baker County economic development director.

“Our primary focus is on assisting existing business owners in the county,” Smith said this week.

Smith said adopting a practical method to the effort to stimulate the local economy is also critical.

“What we are trying to do is to reach out to those small companies that would be a good fit to relocate into the county. What we are trying to be is realistic in our approach,” he said.

UV water treatment should start today

Starting as soon as today, every drop of Baker City’s drinking water will be bombarded with crypto-inactivating ultraviolet light before it gets to your faucets.

The temporary UV system the city installed last week was scheduled to be turned on today, City Manager Mike Kee said Tuesday.

City officials have hired a company to install a permanent UV treatment facility that is slated to be finished by the end of this year.

Thinking (and playing) outside the box

A Different Sort Of Playhouse


S. John Collins / Baker City Herald A playhouse made of not just cardboard, but with art and love, awaits small grandchildren at the home of Brenda Goshorn, 2305 Third St. Goshorn’s daughter, Heather, exits the door. She handled interior decor, while her mom painted the exterior. The Goshorn’s dog, Zoey, explores the playhouse if the door is left open.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

With just a few simple items — cardboard boxes and spray paint — Brenda Goshorn and her daughter, Heather, have created a playhouse to delight any youngster.

Now she just has to wait until her granddaughters come to visit.

“It makes me anxious for them to get here,” Brenda said.

When her newest granddaughter was born in Washington, Brenda and Heather went to visit. While there, Heather built a quick box house with her 2-year-old niece.



Retired pilot puzzled by missing airliner

By Jayson Jacoby

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John Clarke has been following the mystery of the missing Malaysian jetliner (see story on Page 7A) with a perspective few people share.

Clarke, who lives in the foothills of the Elkhorns northwest of Haines, is a retired airline pilot.

He worked for United Airlines and captained Boeing 777s, the same model as the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, for the last six years of his career, which ended in 2000.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful airplane,” Clarke said of the 777. “I never had any problems with it. It’s a lot of fun to fly, an easy plane to fly."

Latest scam: Buy Green Dot card

A phone and mail scam that has cost one Baker City resident $1,320 involves the purchase of Green Dot pre-paid debit cards.

Police Chief Wyn Lohner said a local resident bought three such cards — two worth $500, and one worth $320 — then gave the PIN number to the cards over the phone to the scammer.

That information allowed the person to get the money.

Lohner said he remembers a similar scam several years ago, but the prevalence today of pre-paid cards just makes people more vulnerable.

"You don't have to send a money order like you used to," he said.

The scam involves phone calls and mailings telling recipients they have won a large sum of money — $1 million, in some cases — and that they have to buy a Green Dot card in order to collect the prize.

Lohner said no legitimate company would require a winner to buy such a card, and to give the PIN number to someone over the phone.

At least one of the phone numbers involved with the scam is from Jamaica, Lohner said, the origin of many other scams.

"It's a reminder to people to be extra cautious," he said. 

Walden: Forest Service must consult with counties before closing roads

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., today announced he has introduced the Forest Access in Rural Communities Act (H.R. 4272) to stop the problematic travel management rule on national forests in the West and promote local control over future proposals to restrict forest access.

“For too long, the input and wishes of local citizens have been pushed to the backseat when it comes to decisions about access to our public lands. This common-sense bill will put local communities back in the driver’s seat in the Forest Service’s travel management planning process,” Walden said.

Middle class mission

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden Visits Baker City

Kathy Orr / Baker City Herald U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., spoke to a group of about 40 local residents Sunday afternoon at the Baker City Senior Center.

By Jayson Jacoby

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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden visited Baker City Sunday and he touted his efforts locally on behalf of what he called “the most important issue of our time — growing the middle class.”

“The middle class has really taking a shellacking,” Wyden, a Democrat, told a crowd of about 40 who gathered at 1 p.m. at the Baker City Senior Center.

“How are we going to have jobs — and particularly jobs where people can make a decent living?” Wyden asked.

He cited a couple of examples in which he took action to either help to create, or to preserve, such jobs.

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