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Idaho police say sex abuse suspect, who lived in Baker City, might have other victims

Lester Eugene Palmer

Idaho police say a man accused of sexually abusing a child younger than 16 might have other victims, and the man lived for a time in Baker City.

Lester Eugene Palmer, 54, was arrested Sept. 7 in Kootenai County, Idaho. He was extradited Sept. 16 to Canyon County, where he is charged with multiple counts and his bail is set at $500,000.

Nampa Police Detectives have information that there may be other victims in various states of where Palmer has had a previous residence. The incidents would likely have happened between 1994 and 2014 in Arizona, Oregon, Missouri, Illinois and South Carolina. Palmer spent time in Kellogg Idaho and Baker City as recently as April of 2014.

Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner said local records show that Palmer lived at 2787 Third St. in Baker City, and that Baker City Police had “contacts with him beginning Feb. 2, 2007, and the last was on Oct. 12, 2010.”

Anyone with information about Palmer or other possible victims is urged to contact Detective Kari Seibel at 208-475-5715 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

St. Alphonsus closing nursing home in Baker City

By Chris Collins

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 St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City has announced that it will close its nursing home in the next two months.

The decision came last week in a meeting of the Community Hospital Board, which is chaired by Matt Shirtcliff, who also is Baker County district attorney.

“For the board, it had to do with timing and can people’s needs be met,” Shirtcliff said. “We’ve had several people leave in the last month or so and the state is pushing for people to be in a more home-based environment.

Duffers Digging In

Volunteers Make A Big Difference At Quail Ridge Golf Course 

Kathy Orr / Baker City Herald Twenty-two trees will accent and offer shade at the Quail Ridge Golf Course. A Saturday work party of volunteers included, from left, Larry Smith, John Echeverria, Colt Nudd, Ron Ulrey, Chuck Peterson and Greg Brinton.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

About 20 volunteers braved a chilly wind and gray skies Saturday morning to help plant 22 new trees at Quail Ridge Golf Course.

“No one asked them — they just heard we were planting and showed up,” said Bill Tiedemann, general manager.

He and Jeff Stahman, superintendent of the city-owned course at 2801 Indiana Ave., are thankful for the countless hours logged by volunteers on projects — filling divots, removing weeds, planting flowers and more — throughout the 140-acre, 18-hole course.



Unexpected Test

Panic Alarm Accidentally Activated Wednesday At Brooklyn School

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Doug Dalton, right, District 5J business manager, explained to a few parents of Brooklyn Primary students that the school's security alarm system was activated accidentally Wednesday morning. He was joined by District 5J Superintendant Walt Wegener, left, and personnel from the Sheriff's Department and Emergency Management.

By Chris Collins and Jayson Jacoby

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An unexpected test of the panic alarm system at Brooklyn Primary School sent about a dozen law enforcement officers and other emergency service workers to the school Wednesday morning.

Fortunately, it was a false alarm and the children and staff inside the building were never in any danger.

Conifer Classroom

Sixth-Graders Attending Outdoor School

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald The Forestry station at the outdoor school Tuesday finds Dakota Rilee boring into a tree to take a core sample. He traded off with Kyler Hester, left. In background at right is instructor Logan McCrae, Stewardship Forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry in Baker City. Students also learned about forest health and environments.

By Chris Collins

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Baker and Haines sixth-graders got a chance to play dress up at Outdoor School this week as part of learning what it takes to be a wildland firefighter.

The students stepped into the yellow flame-resistant Nomex clothing required of Forest Service crews and strapped on backpacks filled with supplies that the firefighters carry.

Human remains tentatively identified

Human skeletal remains found in the Marble Creek area Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, have tentatively been identified as Brandon Cody Marshall, 39.

The remains have been sent to the Oregon State medical examiner for positive identification, according to a press release from Baker County Sheriff Mitch Southwick.

This was a non violent death and there is no concern for public safety.

Marshall was known to have been camping and living in the woods and although he had no known address he had lived in the Baker City area.

Brooklyn School briefly on lockdown, but no threat, police say

Brooklyn School was briefly on lockdown this morning but there was no “active threat” to the school, Baker City Police Lt. Kirk McCormick said.

At press time this morning police were trying to figure out whether there was an emergency alarm malfunction, or an alarm was accidentally activated.

Police officers, firefighters and the city’s public works departments all responded to the school, which houses kindergarten through third grades at 1350 Washington Ave.

Police confirmed that there was no emergency and began leaving the school around 9:20 a.m.

Police responded after an emergency alarm was activated.

All school staff have alarm devices with them.

It’s not clear whether someone accidentally pushed the alarm button, or the system malfunctioned.

Students were kept inside their classrooms while police were inside the building. 

Test confirms at least one Baker County resident had West Nile virus

A state health official said today that he received test results Monday confirming that at least one Baker County resident contracted West Nile virus this summer from a mosquito bite.
Dr. Emilio DeBess, public health veterinarian with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), said he expects that three other "presumptive" human cases of the virus will also be confirmed as West Nile once the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have tested blood samples.
Initially the OHA reported three presumptive human cases in Baker County, all of them people who live near Richland.
DeBess said the agency received a later report that a fourth resident, who lives in Halfway, had also been infected with the virus.
State officials are also awaiting test results from a Malheur County resident who is suspected of having contracted the disease.
No other Oregon counties have had any presumptive or confirmed human cases of West Nile virus. The disease has been found in mosquitoes trapped in Baker, Union, Morrow, Jackson and Klamath counties.
DeBess said it's unlikely there will be any more human cases this year, as mosquito populations dwindle.

Southern Oregon firefighter hurt on blaze in Hells Canyon

A firefighter from Southern Oregon suffered a fractured skull and other injuries Sunday evening when he was hit by a falling tree while working on the Freezeout Ridge fire in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Idaho.

Richard "Wally" Ochoa Jr., 51, also suffered two broken arms, a broken jaw and thumb, and numerous lacerations.

He was taken by helicopter to a Boise hospital, where he is in stable condition in the intensive care unit.

Human remains found near Marble Creek

On September 19, 2014 the Baker County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a Bow hunter who reported finding Human Bones in the Marble Creek Area.  The Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene with the Oregon State Police and confirmed that they were human bones and also located clothing and a back pack in the area.  The Oregon State Police Crime Lab also responded and processed the scene.  

There is a tentative identification on the remains but the next of kin has not been notified.  We are also awaiting more positive identification from the Oregon State Medical Examiners Office once they receive the remains.

It appears this may have been a non violent death.  The bones also appear to have been there for 18 to 24 months.

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