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Clearing the air

Evidence still exists that some smokers disregard the city ordinance prohibiting smoking along the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway and city parks. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins)

 By Joshua Dillen

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It’s been nine months since Baker City banned smoking at city parks and along the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway.

Lighting up was also prohibited on property owned by the Baker City Library, including walkways and parking lots extending to the sidewalks.

Both city and library officials say the tobacco bans have been effective, with few complaints or other problems.

Police Chief Wyn Lohner said officers have warned many smokers but written just four citations.

The city’s ordinance bans the use of smoking products and e-cigarettes.

The library’s ban includes smokeless tobacco products as well as e-cigarettes. 

Kee gets a raise

By Joshua Dillen

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A heated discussion among Baker City councilors Tuesday centered on a proposal to give City Manager Mike Kee a pay raise.

After about 20 minutes of sometimes intense debate, the Council voted 4-3 to give Kee a 2-percent raise effective Jan. 1.

Mayor Clair Button and Councilors Kim Mosier, Barbara Johnson and Mike Downing voted in favor of the pay hike, Kee’s first since he was hired in September 2010 with an annual salary of $90,000.

Tougher tests coming

Oregon Schools Switching To Smarter Balanced Assessment This Spring

By Chris Collins

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School officials predict that Oregon students will struggle with new tests that will be administered this spring, despite rigorous efforts to prepare them.

That won’t necessarily mean students are doing worse, it’s more a reflection of an increase in expectations, according to the Oregon Department of Education.

The new Smarter Balanced Assessment will require students to provide more in-depth answers and to explain how they arrive at them. 

The previous tests — OAKS (Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) — were multiple-choice.

Teachers are employing a variety of strategies designed to help their students meet the new standards and to prepare for the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

But that doesn’t mean they are “teaching to the test,” says Superintendent Walt Wegener. He maintains that it’s impossible to teach to a test when no one knows what the questions will be.

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

Bracing For A Bird

Landowners who protect sage grouse habitat can get a guarantee from the feds

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife photo A male sage grouse performs a strutting ritual during the bird’s breeding season.

By Jayson Jacoby

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The possible listing of the sage grouse as a threatened or endangered species next year might not pose as great an economic threat to some of Baker County’s cattle ranchers as they had feared.

The specter of this chicken-size bird has loomed over the livestock industry across the intermountain West for more than a decade.

Since 1999 environmental groups have several times petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to add the sage grouse to the list of threatened or endangered species.

Two men accused of damaging electric outlets on Resort Street, street signs near Cedar

Baker City Police arrested two men this morning on charges that they damaged electrical outlets on Resort Street and traffic signs in the Cedar Street area.

About 1:24 a.m. Baker City Police received a report of damaged electrical outlets on Resort Street. Officer Shannon Regan responded and located two broken outlets near the Dollar Tree.

Fugitive Timothy Keefe arrested

Timothy P. Keefe

Timothy Keefe, the fugitive who eluded Baker City Police last month, was arrested about midnight in Ontario. 

On November 24, 2014 at about 1:07 am Baker City Police received information that a man, driving a white pickup, had used blue emergency lights to stop a vehicle in Baker City and claimed to be a police officer. At about 1:20 am Officer Mike Lary of the Baker City Police Department located that vehicle, which was displaying flashing blue lights and attempting to stop another vehicle. Officer Lary attempted to stop the suspect vehicle, however, the vehicle failed to stop. Due to poor road conditions the 4 wheel drive vehicle was able to elude our officer.

Lots of Lights

HBC buys new lights, snowflake ornaments for community Christmas tree

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Justin Plumbtree, right, unrolls a 75-foot string of Christmas lights Tuesday. He and Blain LeaMaster, left, Baker City Department of Public Works employees, trimmed the community Christmas tree with new lights and snowflakes purchased by grants through Historic Baker City.

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

This year the community Christmas tree sports new lights and snowflakes thanks to several grants and donations to Historic Baker City Inc.

The tree, a Colorado blue spruce donated by Ken and Jill Gross, was cut down Nov. 22 and placed in its place of honor at Court and Main streets in downtown Baker City. As happens every year, a crew from Oregon Trail Electric Co-op (Tim Banister, Tony Hellbusch, Gene Nelson, Ned Ratterman and Jeff Anderson) donated their time, Chuck Carey felled the tree and Don Christy of Superior Towing hauled it downtown.

Truck driver killed in freeway crash

A truck driver from Yakima, Washington, died Monday afternoon when his truck crashed on icy Interstate 84 near Lime.

David. W. Herring, 62, was killed in the accident, which happened about 4:50 p.m. on the westbound freeway near Milepost 342, about 38 miles southeast of Baker City.

According to Oregon State Police, Herring, who was driving a truck hauling a 53-foot-long trailer, was rounding a curve when he lost control on the ice-coated freeway. The truck slid off the road into the median then went over an embankment and into a guardrail.

Following the crash, the semi-trailer was struck by two other vehicles, a passenger vehicle and a small box type truck, which were unable to avoid the trailer that was blocking the freeway. The occupants of both of those vehicles were transported to St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City to be examined. No significant injuries were reported. 

The crash blocked the westbound lanes of the freeway for several hours.

Fun for the entire family

Milo Higley, 3, slowly savors every bit of a cookie he and his mother, Melissa, decorated during the Family Fun Day activities at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center Friday. (S. John Collins/Baker City Herald)

By Joshua Dillen

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Happy trails and wagon-loads of fun are what Friday was all about on Flagstaff Hill.

Family Fun Day at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is exactly what the name implies

Crafty is one way to describe the event.

Cookie creations, bird feeders, family tree handprints and even Christmas Tree decorations were items that children and their families could make.

Kevin and Melissa Higley brought their 3-year-old son, Milo, to the center.

Milo was especially interested in making a cookie in a jar.

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

5J extends superintendent search deadline

By Chris Collins

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The  Baker School Board has revised its schedule for seeking a new superintendent.

The advertising will continue an additional week, through Tuesday, Dec. 9,  for candidates to replace Walt Wegener. 

Wegener has announced that he will step down from his role as Baker School District superintendent on June 30, 2015. He was hired in 2010.

The advertisement also has been revised to specify that the job is a 260-day contract with a salary range of $94,728 to $115,473. Wegener’s 2014-2015 salary is $113,209.

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

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