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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.

More logging on tap locally?

Draft version of Forest Plans for Blue Mountains national forests estimates an increase in logging over the next 15 years

By Jayson Jacoby

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U.S. Forest Service officials from the three national forests in the Blue Mountains believe they can increase logging in the region over the next 15 years.

In the draft version of the revised management plans for the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur national forests, which were released to the public Friday for a 90-day review and comment period, Forest Service officials delve into the past and look toward the future.

The documents over several hundred pages examine in detail not only logging but all aspects of forest policy, including motor vehicle access and road maintenance, wilderness designation and protecting habitat for elk and dozens of other species.

Perhaps the most dramatic change since 1990, when the current management plans for each of the three forests were adopted, is in the volume of commercial timber cut in the forests.

At that time the three forests together were producing close to 600 million board-feet of timber each year, according to the draft plan unveiled Friday.

Starting in the early 1990s, though, logging volumes plummeted.

Since 2004 the three forests’ combined annual volume has averaged about 50 million board-feet.

Clip off the old block

Daniel Hansell carries on his father’s tonsorial tradition

Pat Caldwell

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He doesn’t label it a family vocation in the traditional sense but there is no doubt that Daniel Hansell can draw upon a host of memories for inspiration as he begins his career as a barber in town.

The memories, of course, revolve around his father, Wally Hansell. The senior Hansell stood behind the barber chair in Baker City and La Grande for a long time. Now his son is following in the father’s footsteps with a new shop on Resort Street.

Hansell said he is still a bit nervous — the shop on Resort is his first foray into the business world — but he is excited and optimistic about the future.

Anthony Lakes legend Bert Vanderwall dies

Bert Vanderwall, one of the patriarchs of Anthony Lakes Ski Area, died Thursday at Settler’s Park assisted living facility in Baker City.

Vanderwall, a longtime Haines resident, was 86.

He and his wife, Betty, started the first ski shop at Anthony Lakes in 1962, and the first ski school in 1963. Bert was ski area manager from 1976-85.

A ski run at the resort — Bert’s Run — is named in his honor, and the daily snow report from the ski area is “Bert’s Snow Report."

State agency punishes Pine-Eagle teacher

By Chris Collins

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A teacher at the Pine-Eagle Charter School in Halfway has been disciplined by the state teacher licensing agency for using poor judgment in his interaction with students.

During its quarterly meeting in Salem on March 7, the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission agreed to impose a public reprimand on the teaching license of Christopher Howard de Castro, 38, who teaches fifth- and sixth-graders at the Halfway school.

Man arrested on I-84 had 59 debit cards

By Chris Collins

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A Las Vegas man who was arrested by an Oregon State trooper during a routine traffic stop on the freeway near Baker City Wednesday afternoon is being held on suspicion of identity theft involving as many as 59 debit cards.

Isney Echavarria-Perez, 31, was arraigned Thursday in Baker County Circuit Court on one count of aggravated identity theft, a Class B felony; and five counts each of identity theft and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, both Class C felonies, said District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff.

Rep. Greg Walden to discuss his forest access bill Monday in La Grande

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., will discuss a bill he is writing regarding public access to national forests as part of a roundtable discussion on travel management Monday morning in La Grande.
The congressman will be at AC Power Sports, 10701 Walton Road in La Grande, Monday at 9:15 a.m.
"This legislation is the result of over a year of conversations with local counties and leading members of the motorized recreation community to craft a bill that can put local communities back in the driver's seat," Walden said in a press release.

School district buys modulars

Ben Merrill to replace Jerry Peacock as Baker High School principal

By Chris Collins

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With school districts throughout the state scrambling to secure modulars, the Baker School District is one of the few to make a successful purchase.

Doug Dalton, the district’s chief financial officer and business manager, told the School Board Tuesday night that the district is the new owner of three 2011 used modulars, at a cost of $318,000, that will be placed on the grounds of Brooklyn Primary School. 

Two of the buildings will be used to house kindergartners in 2014-15 and the third will be an open space that can be used for PE, music and reading classes.

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