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City Council to talk annexation contracts, utility fees during closed session

The Baker City Council is scheduled to discuss during a closed meeting Tuesday evening the city’s annexation contracts, and whether the city owes refunds on water and sewer bills to any other landowners whose property was annexed into the city over the past decade or so.

The executive session, which is closed to the public, is slated for 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1655 First St.

The Council’s regular meeting will start at 7 p.m.

The Heat Of Battle

Lisa Britton / For The Baker City Herald Katrina Fast, left, and Grace Mothershed, along with their sister, Hannah Fast, not shown, participate as the team Fast and Furious for the first-ever Cast Iron Chef Dutch oven cook-off Saturday at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. The team ended up with Spam as a surprise ingredient that had to be incorporated into their meal.

Dutch Oven Cooking Competition At The Interpretive Center

For the inaugural Cast Iron Chef Dutch oven cook-off, six teams entered the competition Saturday to try their hand at creating a meal in a Dutch oven at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Only half had prior experience using the cast iron cookware.

Each team received the same base ingredients — roast, potatoes, carrots and onions donated by local producers — and then could choose anything from the table full of optional additions (bacon, spices, vegetables and much more).

City Manager Mike Kee planning to retire

Baker City Manager Mike Kee plans to retire, but not immediately.

Kee, 57, who has been city manager since September 2010, has proposed to retire in a legal sense on Oct. 31, then be re-hired, on a six-month contract, starting Nov. 1.

Forest In Focus

Jayson Jacoby/Baker City Herald file photo This view from the Lakes Lookout takes in Anthony Lake, right middle, and in the background much of the publicly owned forest included in the East Face project.

East Face Project In The Elkhorn Mountains: Forest Service proposes major timber sale, forest restoration work

By Jayson Jacoby

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The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is proposing one of its bigger timber sales in the past 25 years.

The East Face project is on the east slopes of the northern Elkhorn Mountains, mainly from the Anthony Lakes Highway north toward Ladd Canyon and the Grande Ronde Valley.

It includes about 48,000 acres of public land, mostly national forest, with about 1,200 acres of BLM ground.

County transfers land to Sumpter Valley Railroad

By Joshua Dillen

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Baker County commissioners on Wednesday approved the transfer of 54 acres of land to Sumpter Valley Railroad Restoration Inc. (SVRR). 

The company, which operates the steam-powered historic railroad in Sumpter Valley, requested the transfer of land at its McEwen Depot, about five miles southeast of Sumpter, in March.

At that time, public comments indicated positive support for the request, Baker County Parks Director Karen Spencer said.

Salvage logging possible

S. John Collins/Baker City Herald

Forest Service officials are asking the public for ideas about salvaging trees burned in this summer’s unprecedented wildfires in Baker County, as well as removing roadside trees that pose a danger.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is looking at options following the Cornet/Windy Ridge, Eldorado, Eagle Complex and Dry Gulch fires.

Combined those blazes burned more than 150,000 acres in Baker County, including about 48,725 acres on the Wallowa-Whitman. 


Forest Service proposes large timber sale in Elkhorns

The U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with other federal and state agencies, released an environmental study today for one of the biggest proposed timber sales on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in the past 25 years.

The East Face project, which is designed to reduce the risk of large wildfires, includes almost 50,000 acres of public land, mostly Forest Service with about 1,200 acres of BLM ground.

Class Cleans Up

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Baker High School students Caistyn Brooks, right, and Tucker Foersterling remove the wood-plank siding from one of the buildings Monday.

BTI Students Tear Down Buildings On Contaminated Property

The weathered, wooden buildings that have occupied the east Baker City lot at 2430 Balm St. for more than 90 years have come down this week as part of an educational effort to clean up the contaminated site.

The work began Friday when two students from the Baker Technical Institute at Baker High School used pry bars and hammers to begin ripping nails and boards from two of the buildings. They worked alongside and under the guidance of their teacher, Megan Alameda, and volunteer Mike Aguirre.

Alameda is the instructor for the class titled “Environmental Science: Brownfield in Baker.” Aguirre, owner of My Little Woodshop in Baker City, has helped train the students and lead them in the first phase of the tear-down work in exchange for the usable salvaged weathered wood.

One volunteer so far for spot on City Council

With just two days left to apply, only one person has volunteered to fill a vacancy on the Baker City Council.

Margaret D. “Sandy” Lewis has applied to replace Ben Merrill, who resigned last month.

The city is accepting applications until 10 a.m. on Friday.

Police Chief disputes FBI crime statistics

Chief Wyn Lohner says FBI report 'completely inaccurate'

Although the FBI uniform crime report released last week doesn’t rank Baker City as the worst in Oregon in terms of violent crimes, the 61 such crimes reported in 2014 is higher than the number reported by many Oregon cities of similar size.

La Grande, with a population of 13,150 compared to Baker City’s 9,890 residents, reported just 15 violent crimes in 2014.

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