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Spay/neuter group seeks city surcharge


By Jayson Jacoby

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A Baker City woman who’s been working for several years to reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs in Baker County hopes city residents will contribute financially to the effort.

Suzanne Fouty, who coordinates the nonprofit Mollie Atwater and Friends Spay/Neuter Fund, will talk to the City Council during its meeting Tuesday about a proposal to add a monthly surcharge of 50 cents to residents’ water/sewer bills.

The money — an estimated $24,000 per year — would help pay to spay or neuter animals as well as hire a part-time coordinator who would apply for grants.

The City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1655 First St.

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Dale Mack pleads guilty to 2 counts

He was released from jail Friday, one month after incident at his home


By Chris Collins

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A Baker City man who spent the past month in jail facing domestic violences charges that brought a SWAT team to his home after shots were fired, pleaded guilty to assault and drug possession Friday in Baker County Circuit Court.

Dale Myron Patrick Mack, 38, of 3660 Cedar St., was released from jail Friday. He received credit for time served on a 30-day jail term imposed at sentencing on the misdemeanor assault charge.

Mack pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, a Class C felony, and one count of fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence in an agreement with the District Attorney’s Office.

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Senator Wyden coming to Baker City March 16


U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., will have a town hall meeting in Baker City on Sunday, March 16 at 1 p.m. at the Senior Center, 2810 Cedar St.
 

Baker City's temporary UV water treatment system arrives

System should be operating later this month


By Pat Caldwell

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The ghost of last summer’s cryptosporidium crisis may finally be banished by the middle of March after the city’s temporary UV water treatment system goes online.

City Manager Mike Kee said Thursday that the Calgon Carbon Sentinel UV System will be here today, and city workers will begin to install the mechanism Monday.

“It will be done the week after next,” Kee said.

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City, Resort St. owners meet


By Pat Caldwell

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A meeting Thursday at Baker City Hall between City Manager Mike Kee and members of the Resort Street Project Committee generated debate and questions and, perhaps, a way forward.

Members of the committee — property owners Randy Daugherty and Tabor Clarke — met with Kee, city Finance Director Jeanie Dexter and City Councilor Dennis Dorrah to discuss the issue of property tax assessments connected to the Resort Street Local Improvement District (LID).

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Local students earn awards in essay, art and speech contest


By Chris Collins

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Baker City students earned top  honors displaying their writing, speaking and artistic abilities around the theme “Value Life, Beginning to End,” in a recent Oregon Right to Life contest.

Seven of the first-place winners attend Harvest Christian Academy.

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Collared wolf from Snake River pack comes to Baker County


By Jayson Jacoby

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A male wolf from the Snake River pack moved into northern Baker County near Medical Springs on Sunday night and was still in that area Tuesday afternoon.

The wolf, designated OR-18, is an adult male, said Brian Ratliff, district wildlife biologist at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Baker City office.

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Foiled on the Freeway


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Oregon State Police photo Two people died in a multi-vehicle crash Sunday evening on Interstate 84 about 10 miles east of Pendleton. The crash resulted in the freeway’s westbound lanes being closed between Ontario and Pendleton for about 19 hours.

By Pat Caldwell

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and Kelly Ducote

The (La Grande) Observer

A multi-vehicle crash Sunday night near Pendleton that closed the westbound lanes of Interstate 84 for 150 miles and left two people dead also reverberated across the region in terms of economic impact and stalled commerce. 

The Oregon State Police, collision reconstructionists and Oregon Department of Transportation officials searched for answers at the scene of the crash — near Deadman’s Pass on Cabbage Hill — into Tuesday. OSP said initial information indicated a commercial truck traveling west near milepost 221 lost control on ice and slammed into the side of the road with its trailer partially on the roadway.

Later, two commercial trucks crashed into the trailer. During the secondary crash, two 51-year-old truck drivers died — Mario Santana of Richland, Wash., and Gerald Alexander of Houston. A fourth truck later crashed into the two vehicles involved in the secondary collision.

Besides being icy, the freeway was shrouded in dense fog at the time.

The crash prompted ODOT to close the westbound lanes between Ontario and Pendleton, effectively severing the vital commercial truck route from Boise to Portland.

Eastbound lanes remained open.

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Attorney: Oregon Supreme Court ruling could clear way for cities to ban medical marijuana outlets

 


Baker City's attorney, Brent Smith, wrote in a Monday memo to City Manager Mike Kee and Police Chief Wyn Lohner that a 2010 Oregon Supreme Court ruling could clear the way for cities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

The City Council last month passed just such an ordinance.

But because of uncertainty regarding a bill that the Oregon Legislature is considering that might restrict cities' authority to ban medical marijuana outlets, the City Council included a sunset clause of June 15, 2014, with the ordinance.

Smith wrote in his memo that even if the Legislature passes a bill that allows cities to regulate, but not to outright ban, medical marijuana stores, the 2010 Oregon Supreme Court ruling in the Emerald Steel case could supersede that bill.

In that 2010 ruling the state Supreme Court decided that an employer could fire an employee who used medical marijuana.

Smith wrote in his memo that state Sen. Ted Ferrioli, the John Day Republican who represents Baker County, asked the state Legislative Counsel to issue an opinion about how the Emerald Steel ruling might apply to city ordinances banning medical marijuana dispensaries, and specifically whether cities would be required to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate.

The Legislative Counsel's response: "The answer to this question is no. We believe a court would not require a local government to permit the transfer of medical marijuana."

Smith wrote in his memo: "Basically, legislative counsel is saying that if a suit arises under the current controversy that the Oregon Supreme Court will either have to continue under its Emerald Steel reasoning and allow local governments to ban activities that are inconsistent with federal law, or the Supreme Court will have to overturn its recent decision in Emerald Steel."

In response to Smith's memo, Lohner sent a memo to city councilors in which he asks:

"Do we want to create another ordinance to simply remove the 'sunset clause' from Ordinance #3330 and leave the prohibition on the books as is, or do you wish to go another direction with it?"

 

Wolf numbers up by one-third


By Katy Nesbitt

The (La Grande) Observer

In 2013, Oregon wolf numbers increased to 64 documented wolves in eight known packs, a 33 percent increase over the previous year.

Greater numbers also means increased territory and dispersal of young, adult wolves traveling as far as Idaho, Heppner and even Mount Hood.

Over the winter, photographs of tracks and collection of scat were gathered in the Prairie Creek and Alder Slope neighborhoods of the Wallowa Valley. Russ Morgan, the agency’s wolf biologist said, more data are needed to determine if wolves are settling into the valley or if they are just passing through.

Northeast Oregon’s wolves have made some fascinating movements lately, not just in the Wallowa Valley, but around the region.

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