By Chris Collins
Members of the Fine family counted their blessings and mourned their losses as they watched firefighters mop up the remains of their charred home Tuesday morning.
Allan Fine had just left for work at his job at Marvin Wood Products about half an hour before the fire department was dispatched to 1130 Broadway St. at about 5:30 a.m.
Allan, 32, said the house had been his home for the past 20 years. He shared it with his 62-year-old mother, Virginia.
The Baker City Council has removed Richard Langrell as mayor and elected Councilor Clair Button to replace him.
Councilor Barbara Johnson will replace Button as vice-mayor.
Langrell, who was elected by voters as a councilor in November 2012, was elected by his colleagues as mayor in January 2013.
He will remain as a councilor. His four-year term continues through the end of 2016.
In Baker City's form of government the mayor is largely a ceremonial position, and the mayor has no special authority beyond setting meeting agendas and signing official documents.
The City Council met tonight in a regular meeting.
Button had asked that a discussion of Langrell's performance be added to the agenda.
Langrell this spring filed a lawsuit against the city claiming it owes him more than $9,000 in water and sewer fees he paid for his motel, the Always Welcome Inn.
The Fourth of July Haines Stampede Rodeo finds Jake Herskin hanging on above the dirt and dust during bull riding competition Friday. Herskin didn’t make it to the end of the eight-second ride and received a no score.
The state legislator who represents Baker County says Baker City has advantages in the effort to create jobs
By Pat Caldwell
Oregon Rep. Cliff Bentz said last week that the path to success in the future for small towns that dot the high desert steppes of Eastern Oregon really boils down to two key concepts: Patience and hard work.
Bentz, a Republican from Ontario, represents Malheur, Baker and Harney counties and portions of Grant County in the Oregon Legislature.
He said the relationship between local governments and state and federal agencies and general economic development continue to be the key themes expressed by voters when he tours his district.
“So I’ve been doing a lot of work trying to figure out how to improve the means of strengthening the amount of say folks up there (in Baker County) have,” Bentz said. “Or, at least, clearing up misconceptions that may exist about how much a county can really do when negotiating with the federal government.”
Bentz said easy answers to such complex problems as land-use and federal and state regulations simply do not exist. The critical element, he said, is developing a sturdy line of communication between state and federal agencies and local governments.
“I believe it is a question of how we more effectively communicate with the folks that are charged with managing the land, the Forest Service and the BLM. How do we do a better job of making our position clearer,” he said.
See more in Monday's issue of the Baker City Herald.
No major power outages in Baker County
S. John Collins/Gaylord Baggerly looks at the canvas carport that ended up draped across the fence at his south Baker City home. Wind from a thunderstorm Wednesday night propelled the carport about 120 feet.
The blustery but mainly dry thunderstorm that swung through Baker City Wednesday night made a delivery to Gaylord and La Donna Baggerly’s backyard.
Wind propelled the canvas structure about 120 feet, crossing a couple of properties between owner Ron Edison’s house and the Baggerlys’ yard at 230 Second St., between Colorado and Miller avenues in south Baker City.
La Donna Baggerly found the carport about 6:30 this morning.
The carport didn’t cause any damage when it ended its flight draped across the Baggerlys' fence.
Nor did the storm result in any widespread power outages in Baker County, said Jim Horan of Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative.
OTEC crews worked all night removing limbs that had fallen across power lines in several places, Horan said. But in most cases fewer than 20 customers lost power for less than half an hour, he said.
The biggest outage happened in Imbler, northeast of La Grande, when lightning struck a power pole, cutting electricity to about 250 customers from 10:21 p.m. until 3 a.m.
Wind gusts toppled a tree across Highway 7 about a mile and a half east of the Sumpter junction, and left willow limbs strewn across the highway through Bowen Valley just south of Baker City, but there were no major problems on local highways, said Bill Durflinger, who works at the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Baker City maintenance station.
The BLM's Vale District enacted restrictions on campfires, smoking and other activities on the district effective Tuesday.
“The restrictions are going into effect due to extremely dry fuels and high temperatures returning for the Fourth of July and remaining after the holiday," Bob Narus, the district's fire management officer, said in a press release. "We constantly evaluate conditions in the District. The indicators show it is time to take the extra precautions of fire restrictions.”
The following restrictions are specified in the Fire Prevention Order:
• You must not build, maintain or attend a campfire, or stove fire, including charcoal briquette fire, except within the existing metal fire rings located at the following recreation sites; Spring Recreation Site and Carters Landing in Baker County and Chukar Park in Malheur County. NOTE: Liquefied and bottled gas stoves and heaters are permitted. When used outside of developed recreation sites, they must be used within an area at least ten (10) feet in diameter that is barren or clear of all flammable materials.
• You must not smoke outside of a vehicle, trailer, or building, except within areas barren of all flammable materials for at least a 6-foot diameter, or aboard boats on rivers and lakes.
• You must not possess, discharge, or use any type of fireworks or other pyrotechnic device, to include exploding targets.
• You must not operate a chainsaw.
• You must not park your vehicle or operate any type of internal combustion engine (generators, weed eaters, etc.) in an area that is not clear of all flammable material.
• You must not operate a motorized vehicle outside of existing roads and ways. This prohibits cross country travel until this order is rescinded.
• You must not operate an automobile, pickup, truck, or any other motorized equipment that is wider than 50 inches or has a dry weight of 800 pounds or more, on public lands without a shovel not less than 26 inches in overall length, with a blade not less than 8 inches wide, and a container with at least one gallon of water, or a fully charged 2.5-pound fire extinguisher.
Individuals who violate restrictions not only endanger themselves and others, but they may be subject to penalties including fines and imprisonment. For further information, or to report wildfires, please contact the Vale BLM Dispatch Center at 541-473-6295 or 1 (800) 982-0287. Additional information about the Vale District can be found at www.blm.gov/or/districts/vale.
The Baker City Council will have a special meeting Monday, July 7 to tour the Elk Creek area of the city's watershed in the Elkhorn Mountains, about 10 miles west of town, and examine the livestock fence there.
The Council will meet at 10 a.m. at City Hall, 1655 First St., then drive to Elk Creek.
A quorum of the Council is expected to attend, which means the tour will be an official meeting, open to the public.
Transportation will not be provided to the public.
The Baker City/County Planning Department is considering applications for a pair of business developments near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in west Baker City.
One is for a grain malting operation at 2995 Baker St. Malted grain is an ingredient in beer.
In addition, Cascade Natural Gas plans to build a work center on the vacant lot on the north side of Broadway Street between the Ellingson Lumber Co. building and 13th Street.
The property is just west of the railroad tracks.
Because neither proposal involves a building larger than 15,000 square feet, the Planning Department staff could approve both without going through the city Planning Commission.
See Wednesday's issue of the Baker City Herald for more about these two proposals.
Event set for July 11 in Baker City
Local veterans can learn about benefits available to them and their families, as well as support services such as education and employment, during an event scheduled for Friday, July 11 in Baker City.
The Northeast Oregon Veterans Benefits Event and Stand Down will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, 1640 Campbell St.
More information is available by calling Jane Chandler, Baker County's veterans services officer, at 541-523-8223.
The Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway, the 106-mile paved route that circles the Elkhorn Mountains west of Baker City, is free of snow and open, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest reports.
Lingering snowdrifts had blocked a two-mile section of the byway above Anthony Lakes until recently.