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Two-year effort pays off


Turf is rolled out with the help of volunteers and supervisors from the playground and surfacing companies. From left is Jayson Jacoby, David Schildknecht and Manuel Garcia. Standing in baker is Elaine Sheerman, who developed the surfacing system called SMARTE. (Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald)

By Pat Caldwell

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The project began, really, with mud. 

And dirt. 

And old playground equipment.

The idea to produce new playground equipment for Geiser-Pollman Park in Baker City was fueled by a muffled sense of frustration for a group of local mothers who decided one day to get involved and to initiate change.

They didn’t know exactly how they were going to accomplish their goal; they didn’t have any money; they didn’t have a firm plan. All they really knew was that they were tired of traveling to one of Baker City’s beautiful parks and watching their children play in mud, dirt and on antiquated playground equipment.

See more in the May 16 issue of the Baker City Herald.

Regional jobs still lagging

By Pat Caldwell

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Two elected city officials agreed the local area faces challenges regarding economic development but conceded the best way government can help in the effort to spark expansion is to stay out of the way.

Baker City Mayor Richard Langrell and City Councilor Kim Mosier both said local government entities should be supportive of business development but should also be careful not to create needless roadblocks on the road to expansion.

Langrell said he remains uneasy regarding how much — and for how long — city government should be involved with economic development.

“I’ve always had mixed feelings about the city of Baker being in the economic development department. I kind of look at the city, the city’s job is to provide safe drinking water, sewer service, roads to drive on, police and fire. The city should be supportive of everyone who wants to start something in town,” Langrell said.

See more in today's Baker City Herald.

Keeping it green


A long-term goal for Quail Ridge Golf Course is to update the irrigation system to make it more efficient. (Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald

By Pat Caldwell

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An effort to establish a preliminary plan to replace portions of the outdated irrigation system at the Quail Ridge Golf Course might secure more than a rudimentary review next week when the Baker City Budget Committee convenes to chart the fiscal future.

Irrigation system snags at the course are not a recent development and city officials want to at least secure funds to craft a feasibility study to tackle the challenge during the budget committee sessions next week. Baker City Manager Mike Kee said city staff has already adopted tentative steps toward shaping a viable plan.

“We’ve taken a step this year in the budget and in the proposed budget and have put a project out there to begin the planning for an irrigation system. It (the irrigation system) is not a new problem,” Kee said. At issue is the irrigation system that services portions of the original nine — dubbed the “old nine” — holes of the course constructed by the Depression-era Work Projects Administration in the mid-1930s. The irrigation system for that portion of the course was positioned in the early 1970. 

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

Baker girl’s patriotic poster wins top honor

Heather Mazzagotte's poster has advanced to the state level of the VFW's Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest. (Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald)

A Baker High School senior has been awarded $200 for a poster she produced as part of the Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest.

Heather Mazzagotte’s poster next will advance to the state level, said Jodi Thomas of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary.

The contest was sponsored by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, No. 3048, in Baker City.

See more in today's Baker City Herald. 

Airports serve vital role

Airports like the Baker Municipal Airport serve a vital role in local economies. (Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald)

By Pat Caldwell

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Annually, elected and appointed officials dig into the newest sack of potential economic development solutions but one visible and conceivable — not to mention well-established — engine of expansion seems to hide within plain sight.

Airports, even small rural airfields, furnish a host of economic development possibilities and often function as a low-key, but steady, mechanism that drives growth and opens up overlooked avenues to prosperity.

“I think airports are vital to economic development. I think that goes without saying,” Baker City Manager Mike Kee said.

Kee basically serves as the city’s airport manager, though he said much of the day-to-day oversight of the facility is handled by the city’s public works department. 

Aviation produces big dollars for Oregon, according to statistics from the Oregon Department of Aviation. ODA statistics show that aviation creates a $24 billion impact on the state’s economy. The federal government — and the state — also pour a lot of money into aviation. 

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

North Powder School Board sets May 20 meeting

The North Powder School Board will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 20.

The agenda includes discussion of the Community Facilities Grant, the school’s early graduation policy and its chemistry program.  




Former city councilor hopes contest will boost dog park plan


By Pat Caldwell

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Currently there are no dog parks in Baker City but former city councilor Gail Duman wants to change that.

She made one giant leap forward recently toward her goal by entering Baker City in a contest sponsored by PetSafe.net.

The first place winner will secure $100,000 to help construct a dog park. Voting on the web site kicked off May 7 and runs through June 7. Then PetSafe will pick 15 finalists for another round of voting to garner the top prize. Interested individuals can vote for their city on the PetSafe.net web site twice a day. 

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. 


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