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Idaho woman killed in crash on I-84 near Baker City


A 60-year-old Idaho woman died Saturday night in a single-vehicle crash on Interstate 84 about 10 miles north of Baker City in which three other people were also injured.

Tanda Kay Pratt, of Blackfoot in Eastern Idaho, was pronounced dead at St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City Saturday night, according to the Oregon State Police.

The accident happened about 10:38 p.m. A 2010 Ford F350 pickup truck hauling a camp trailer veered into the freeway median, and both vehicles rolled, according to OSP. The driver was Todd B. Pratt, 30, also of Blackfoot.

There were two other passengers in addition to Tanda Pratt -- Joe L. Pratt, 61, of Blackfoot, and Austin B. Parker, 23, of Pocatello, Idaho. Joe Pratt and Todd Pratt were both taken by air ambulance to St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise. Parker was taken by ground ambulance to the Baker City hospital.

OSP is investigating the cause of the accident, which closed the westbound lanes of the freeway temporarily.


Rye Valley firefighting costs exceed $900,000


The bill for dousing a lightning-caused fire near Rye Valley in southeastern Baker County has reached $911,000, the Oregon Department of Forestry reported Saturday evening.

The fire started late Tuesday and burned 1,434 acres.

No homes were damaged.

The fire is 75 percent contained this evening.


Fire risk eases


By Jayson Jacoby

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Russ Nantz was feeling a lot better this morning about the fire that threatened his Baker County home as well as valuable grazing land and herds of cattle.

Nantz, foreman for the Three Valleys Ranch, one of the county’s biggest cattle outfits, said at 7:30 a.m. that crews fighting the Rye Valley fire near Huntington “had pretty well got it knocked down last night.”

The blaze, sparked by lightning Tuesday night, burned almost 1,400 acres, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, which took over management of the fire from the BLM on Thursday.

“It’s looking a lot better this morning,” Nantz said.

Although he said he hasn’t inspected the entire section of ranch he oversees — about 30,000 acres, including BLM grazing allotments — Nantz said the fire didn’t burn any buildings or kill any cattle.

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


See The (UV) Light

Building Baker City’s Permanent UV Light Water Treatment Plant


S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Construction continues for the structure that will house the permanent ultraviolet light water treatment system at the Baker City reservoirs.

By Coby Hutzler

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On track and under budget.

That’s how Baker City’s public works director, Michelle Owen, described the state of the new UV light water treatment plant being built next to the city’s reservoirs at the southwest corner of town.

“Everybody’s really worked to get this project going, so that’s a good thing,” Owen said. 

Not much of the progress has been visible so far, though. Much of the work that’s been done, including installing pipes and wiring, has gone underground.

Now, however, the building that will house the UV reactors has started to take shape. The walls are up, and trusses and roofing are the next components to be installed. A control room for all of the facilities on site is also in the works.

The plant can’t stop running if the power goes out, and Owen said that a new backup generator with higher output is also slated to be installed.

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


Rye Valley Road resident: Fire settled down overnight


By Jayson Jacoby

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The fire, as near as Julia Biggerstaff could tell, was eight miles from her home.

But she was still worried.

Biggerstaff lives on Rye Valley Lane about a mile up the valley from Interstate 84.

The area is in southeastern Baker County between Weatherby and Huntington, about 45 miles from Baker City.

Biggerstaff had taken Rhino, her Rhodesian ridgeback dog, to the vet’s office in Weiser, Idaho, on Wednesday.

She was driving home about 5 p.m. when she saw smoke billowing from the parched hills south of the freeway.

“I thought, ‘that’s up near me,’ ” Biggerstaff said.


Republican gubernatorial candidate visits Baker City

Dennis Richardson, a longtime state lawmaker, believes incumbent John Kitzhaber is vulnerable


Read more...

By Jayson Jacoby

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Dennis Richardson walks into the interview with his back straight, seemingly unaffected by the weight of 32 years of Oregon political history on his shoulders.

Richardson, a Republican state representative from Central Point, hopes to accomplish what no other member of the GOP has done in Oregon since the late Vic Atiyeh in 1982.

Richardson wants to be Oregon’s next governor.

To earn that office in the state Capitol in Salem, Richardson, 64, has to contend not only with a generation of Democratic dominance but also with the man who is responsible for more of the party’s victories than any other candidate.

Richardson is trying to deny John Kitzhaber an unprecedented fourth term as Oregon’s chief executive.


Police chief pleased with relatively tranquil Jubilee weekend


S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Travis Miller of Brogan won the 20th-annual Baker City Bull Riding event Saturday night. This photo is from an earlier ride that led him to the championship round.

By Jayson Jacoby

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Another busy weekend in Baker City.

Another relatively tranquil weekend for Baker City Police.

Which is precisely the result Police Chief Wyn Lohner hoped for both during this weekend’s Miners Jubilee, and last weekend’s Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally.

“I’m very pleased to report the same thing two weekends in a row,” Lohner said this morning. “It shows what can happen when the community works together.”

Although officers from the city department as well as the Baker County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police stopped dozens of vehicles during Jubilee, the city made only one drunken driving arrest, Lohner said.

And Lohner said that person hadn’t been drinking at one of the weekend’s big events, the beer garden at the Fairgrounds.

Lohner said organizers of the beer garden agreed to a list of protocols for this year’s event designed to “bring down the level of intoxication.”

The new guidelines seemed to be effective.

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


Hurricane Creek Road opened to forest boundary; trailhead still closed


The Hurricane Creek Road in Wallowa County near Joseph is now open to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest boundary, but the Hurricane Creek trailhead and trail remain closed due to a wildlife that has been burning in the area since earlier this week.


Fire blackens 3,300 acres


S. John Collins / Baker City Herald One of several helicopters drops retardant on hot spots.

By Jayson Jacoby

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The flames were moving so fast, Clay Gyllenberg said, that even with a bulldozer he couldn’t carve fire lines quickly enough to block the blaze.

“When the wind gusts came up it moved at such a high speed,” Gyllenberg, of Baker City, said this morning.

The terrain through which the Radio Tower fire burned Thursday, in the sagebrush rangelands north of Interstate 84 about four miles southeast of Baker City, wasn’t conducive to rapid firefighting, either, Gyllenberg said.

“It’s extremely rocky,” he said. “You can’t even get through with a cat (bulldozer) in some places.”

Although the fire wasn’t officially contained this morning, Carolyn Chad, a spokeswoman at the BLM’s Vale District, said “we believe we have it corralled.”

The smoke plume that dominated the southeast skyline from Baker City most of Thursday had dissipated by about 5:30 p.m.

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


Radio Tower fire "corralled" BLM official says this morning


The Radio Tower fire, which burned more than 3,000 acres of mainly private rangeland just southeast of Baker City Thursday, is not official contained, but a BLM official said this morning that "we believe we have it corralled."

The cause of the fire, which was reported about 9:30 a.m., remains unknown, said Carolyn Chad, a spokeswoman at the BLM's Vale District.

See Friday's issue of the Baker CIty Herald for a story and photos from the Radio Tower fire. 


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