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Warm Heart(h)s

The Northeast Oregon Compassion Center’s firewood ministry gathered more than 450 cords last year. The organization gave away 250 cords, helping more than 100 local families who use wood as their main source of heat.

  By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

Ian Howarth never knows what will happen when he shows up at the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center, where he serves on the board of directors.

Especially these days with the new firewood ministry going strong.

“I show up and he says ‘grab some gloves,’ ” Howarth says of Cliff Cole, the center’s director.


Mailer criticizes Warner

His opponent, Bill Harvey, said he had nothing to do with postcard that accuses Warner of supporting Obamacare 

By Pat Caldwell

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A postcard mailed recently to an unknown number of Baker County voters calls into question County Commission Chairman Fred Warner Jr.’s record as a Republican and implies his political philosophy is more in line with tenets of the Democratic Party.

 The postcard, which is not connected with the campaign of Warner’s opponent, Bill Harvey, does not list any author or sponsor.

Oregon law does not require a sponsor’s name to be printed on such a document, said Tony Green, a spokesman for the state.

Warner, who is seeking his fourth term as the only full-time member of the three-person Board of Commissioners, was elected as a Democrat in the three earlier elections. He changed his affiliation to the GOP last year.

The postcard might mark a clear demarcation line between how local political races functioned in the past, and how at least this race is playing out now.

Harvey said he had not seen the postcard.

“It had nothing to do with me. I didn’t even know it was coming out,” Harvey said. 

See more in Wednesday's Baker City Herald. 


Hottest New Art

Foundry Casts Salt Lick Sculpture In Bronze


Kathy Orr/ Baker City Herald Workers from Blue Mountain Fine Art pour 2,500-degree molten bronze into a form.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

What began as an ordinary salt block has been turned, by molten bronze, into a unique piece of art in Baker City.

Well, almost — first the 13 pieces must be welded together to re-create the salt lick, which at four feet high is quite a bit larger than the original.

The sculpture was pattered after a real salt block entered in the annual Great Salt Lick contest and auction put on by Whit Deschner to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research.

The plan is to install the art piece by June 1 on the Resort Street sidewalk that adjoins Court Street Plaza.

See more in Wednesday's Baker City Herald. 


County to re-send 25 botched ballots

Baker County Clerk Tami Green said this morning that her office has re-mailed 25 ballots to registered Republican voters.

The ballots, for the May 20 primary, were non-partisan ballots that didn’t include the two county commission races, both of which include only Republican candidates.

Only registered Republicans will cast votes on those two races.

Green said the ballots were mailed as a result of a clerical error.

She encourages GOP voters to check their ballots to make sure they include the county commission races. If not, voters should call Green at 541-523-8207 or visit her office in the Courthouse, 1995 Third St., to get a proper ballot.

City to sell forest land?

By Pat Caldwell

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A plan to sell a piece of city-owned property at the base of the Elkhorn Mountains will probably end up on the November ballot.

The city wants to unload its 40-acre Salmon Creek property — about eight miles west of Baker City and originally purchased in the late 19th century — but must secure voter approval first, as mandated by the city charter.

“We’ve never done anything with it,” City Manager Mike Kee said of the parcel of timbered property.

The city had trees thinned on the property in 2003.

Kee said the property could be worth as much as $100,000.

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

Snow Sticks Around

Water Content Above Average In Elkhorns, Wallowas 

Kathy Orr / Baker City Herald Signs of spring abound in Baker Valley, including center pivot sprinklers nourishing newly planted crops, but high in the Elkhorn Mountains the snow is still several feet deep.

By Jayson Jacoby

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While most of Oregon and the West brace for possible water shortages this summer due to a scanty snowpack, the northeastern corner boasts a relative bounty.

This is the only part of the state where the snowpack is above average.

As of this morning, the water content in the snow in the region comprising the Burnt, Powder, Grande Ronde and Imnaha river basins is 9 percent above average.

In the Willamette River basin, by contrast, which includes much of the Central Cascades, the snowpack is just half of average.

See More in Monday's issue of the Baker City Herald. 

How to create jobs? Ideas vary

By Pat Caldwell

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Political life in Baker County rolls on as elections are held, meetings scheduled and resolutions ratified but always there is the shadow — seemingly distant yet oppressive — of economic development that hovers on the margins like a specter.

In one form or another economic development — the process to create and retain living-wage jobs for the county — stretched into almost every discussion and lingered near a political race that is as exceptional in terms of both its familiarity and potential to shift the course of county government.

At the same time, economic development is a factor that city elected leaders must reckon with at nearly every meeting. That kind of awareness is a signal that if there is problem that continues to defy simple fixes, it is economic development in Eastern Oregon.

There’s no shortage of theories on how to stimulate economic prosperity. The issue has been the silent partner at every recent county commissioner candidates forum. In the commission race, homebuilder and businessman Bill Harvey is running to unseat incumbent Fred Warner from his position as the Baker County Commissioner Chairman, while Dick Fleming and Gene Stackle are running against Mark Bennett for Commissioner Position No. 2. 

Haunted by a death

Baker City Police Detective Craig Davidson Moving To Hawaii 

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Craig Davidson is looking forward to happier days as he and his family head for a new home in Hawaii. Davidson resigned from his job as a Baker City Police officer because of the personal problems he encountered after investigating the September 2013 death of 5-year-old Jordan Ryan, who was killed by a pit bull.

By Chris Collins

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Craig Davidson’s law enforcement career was ended by a 5-year-old boy.

That boy was Jordan Ryan, who was mauled to death by a pit bull on Sept. 27, 2013.

Jordan’s death broke not only Davidson’s heart, but the heart of the entire community.

For the 52-year-old Davidson, the loss of the kindergartner was more sadness than he ever again wants to bear in a day’s work. For that reason, he has resigned from his job as a Baker City Police detective.

He had planned to work three more years before retiring, but he turned in his badge on April 24 to ensure that he wouldn’t have to endure another child’s death before leaving the police force.

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

Control of Congress the key, Walden says

Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald Rep. Greg Walden, the Republican who represents Baker County in the U.S. House of Representatives, had a town hall meeting Saturday morning at the Geiser Grand Hotel.

By Chris Collins

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While U.S. Rep. Greg Walden might agree that the country would be better off with a Republican in the White House, there is nothing to gain by working to impeach President Barack Obama.

That was Walden’s response to such a proposal made by Lynn Shumway of Baker City, a former longtime Bridgeport rancher, during a Saturday-morning town hall meeting at the Geiser Grand Hotel.

“The real problem is the president is out of control,” Shumway told Walden. “I can’t see what kind of  country we’re going to have if we don’t stop the drama, save America and impeach Obama.”

Walden noted that impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton in 1999 lost the Republicans five seats in a mid-term election.

If a similar thing were to happen in this November’s election the results would be disastrous for the country from the Republican point of view, Walden said.

Instead of focusing on impeachment, Republicans should set their sights on gaining seats in the Democrat-controlled Senate,which currently claims 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans.

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

New code enforcement officer will help residents comply with city ordinances

Code Enforcement Officer Ruthie Boyd checks a south Baker City residence that’s been abandoned. Rubbish and household items were left strewn about the yard, porch and garage. (S. John Collins/Baker City Herald)

By Chris Collins

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Ruthie Boyd’s new job as the Baker City Police Department’s civilian code enforcement officer is much like the story of the “Magic Porridge Pot.”

As the story goes, once the pot was started, it would continue producing porridge until the magic words “stop little pot, stop” were uttered by the cook.

Although there is no magic involved, Boyd’s work seemingly multiplies in much the same way with each contact she makes throughout the day.

“She goes out to address one issue and she comes back with two more,” says Police Chief Wyn Lohner.

For example, Boyd recently was called to investigate a complaint of someone living in a camp trailer on a south Baker City property with no water or sewer service, which is prohibited by city ordinance. While investigating that issue, another neighbor pointed to a house across the street that has been abandoned for the past two years.

“There is garbage everywhere and cats galore,” Boyd said.


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