That there are more questions about Baker City’s crypto outbreak than answers is frustrating, to residents and city officials alike.
This is, unfortunately, the nature of the microscopic parasite.
It is difficult, and perhaps will prove impossible, to ever trace this outbreak, which has sickened several hundred people, to its source.
Yet there are other vital questions for which answers should be more readily available.
The Baker County Chamber of Commerce has decided to end its role in organizing Miners Jubilee, but we’re confident that Baker City’s annual July event will persist.
There is a cadre of dedicated volunteers, from service clubs and other groups as well as individuals, who are capable of taking over the Chamber’s tasks, such as signing up vendors for Geiser-Pollman Park, organizing the parade and coordinating the Jubilee button design contest.
We hope too that other organizations which coordinate aspects of the community festival will continue to do so.
These include Historic Baker City Inc., which handles the duck and beaver races, the bed races and other events, the Eastern Oregon Mining Association’s popular displays and contests and the Lions Club’s breakfasts.
This evolution of Miners Jubilee could also result in changes that benefit the event as a whole.
Baker City has an active art community, including the Baker Art Guild, Crossroads Carnegie Art Center and several galleries. We’d like to see more local artists and crafters displaying their works in the park.
And we’d welcome a revival of scheduling local musicians to perform in the park during Jubilee.
Miners Jubilee has some momentum, in part because it’s become the weekend when Baker High School graduates gather for class reunions.
And although public drunkenness and other problems were unusually common during this year’s event, Police Chief Wyn Lohner has been talking with officials from the bull and bronc riding events that, although not officially part of Miners Jubilee, share the weekend and have become mainstay events.
We think this year’s rash of incidents will turn out to be an anomaly.
Ultimately, Miners Jubilee is a community celebration, and as such it can’t last without the support of the community.
We believe that support exists, and that it will show itself in the 2014 Jubilee.
Trust, as anyone knows whose mother ever nabbed him filching jelly beans from the candy drawer, is far more easily lost than regained.
Baker City’s water supply, I’m afraid, is that little boy with sugar crusted around his mouth.
And all of us who rely on that water, well, we’re the mom with a scowl on her face.
This state of affairs, this suddenly rampant suspicion of our once-reliable faucets, saddens me.
It is no exaggeration to indulge in cliché and call it the end of an era.
Appalled by Herald’s story about Don Phillips
I am appalled by the story on Don Phillips!
I understand that Mrs. Phillips requested this article be written and provided the Herald with the photograph. This piece is a flagrant attempt to rehabilitate Mr. Phillip’s reputation following the sexual abuse he was recently charged with committing, and the plea agreement he reached with the court.
Don Phillips pled guilty to harassment and is currently serving two years probation. He must perform community service. He has been fined and is not allowed to have contact with underage females without the supervision of their parent or guardian. Your article very conveniently omitted these important facts. Does the Herald believe that this is the kind of individual who should represent the best of Baker City?
The child he hurt is still hurting. She has continual nightmares and will no longer go outside to play. She is fearful of going to the store in the event that she might see Don Phillips. Perhaps this is the story the Baker Herald should have written: It could be titled “The Damaged Child, What One Man Can Do to Damage a Child For a Lifetime.”
The Baker City Herald should represent the entire Baker community. It should provide all the factual information about a person they are featuring. I am stunned that you would write an article like this without looking into this person’s agenda or into their personal history.
Mother of the child
Editor’s Note: The writer’s name is withheld because the Baker City Herald’s policy is to not identify victims of abuse, including not naming relatives, which could make it easier to identify the victim. The writer of the letter also was not named in news stories about Phillips’ guilty plea.
Climate change dissenters don’t get fair shake
Nearly a century ago, Trofim Lysenko, a Russian botanist, disagreed with Mendelian genetics, which explain how the characteristics of parents are passed on to their children. He believed that parents could pass on acquired traits- when a man develops his musculature, his children will be born with stronger muscles. This is pure hokum, but it did fit in with the then-dominant Communist ideology, which had Soviet New Man building a socialist utopia. This being Stalin’s Soviet Union, opposing scientists often had a black police van filled with goons pay them a midnight visit; they were never heard from again. Other scientists took the hint, and for several decades, Lysenko’s quack biology was “settled science” in that great nation.
Careful measurements have shown that the world’s climate warmed up during the 20th century. The theory of human-caused catastrophic climate change, however, is based mostly on computer models. But in a world where the flutter of butterfly wings in Tokyo can significantly impact Oregon weather, the world’s climate is far too complex to be reduced to a simple computer model. Yet this shakily based theory is helpful to big government advocates. After all, if we believe the fate of mankind rests in the balance, we’re more likely to accept the next governmental power grab.
This is not the Soviet Union, thank God, and so dissenting scientists do not disappear into black police vans. But Climategate e-mails revealed how opposing opinion has been squelched. Dissenting scientists do not receive grants to continue their research; they are not invited to speak at prestigious scientific conclaves; their papers are not published in scientific journals; they are publicly ridiculed, such as Al Gore’s quip that those who disagree with him “still believe that the world is flat.” So scientists have learned to “go along to get along.”
It’s ironic that in a recent letter, Gary Dielman brought up Galileo’s treatment, as Oregon has its very own Galileo: George Taylor was removed from his post as Oregon’s climatologist because he does not agree with the theory of catastrophic climate change. Trofim Lysenko would have been proud!
Until Thursday afternoon, we were generally pleased with Baker City officials’ efforts to get important information to the public about the crypto crisis.
We’re not pleased any more.
Quite the opposite in fact.
With probably the most important fact yet revealed in this episode in its hands between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday — that a water sample taken Sunday from Elk Creek contained a vastly higher amount of crypto than any previous sample from any source — the city didn’t post the information to its website.
As of 10 a.m. today that was still the case.
We need more published proof of crypto
Dozens of Baker City residents have recently suffered from digestive illnesses, blamed on cryptosporidium.
The only way to confirm that cryptosporidium caused the illnesses, is by multiple lab tests of the people who got sick. Most of these would then have to show a preponderance of the little beasties, in at least a majority of the affected people.
Remember, those who have gotten sick represent a tiny fraction (roughly, less than one percent) of people who’ve been drinking city water without getting sick. Also, scores of other factors can cause similar digestive diseases.
We understand that Baker City Council members and the county commissioners have been busy this past week, but their duties as elected officials during the crypto outbreak don’t exempt them from Oregon’s public meetings law.
We were disappointed to learn that a quorum of both bodies convened last week without giving the legally required public notification.
City Manager Mike Kee told us the mistake won’t happen again, and we believe him.
He also pointed out that the purpose of the meeting was not for officials to make decisions, but rather to get information.
We believe that, too, but the state law makes no such distinctions, as of course it should not. After all, if elected officials could meet in private, unpublicized venues except when they make decisions, they could do all the important business, all the haggling that goes into making a decision, outside the public’s purview.
Other than violating the public meetings law, officials, both elected and administrative, have mainly done a good job during this crisis. Although they could make better use of websites and social media.
Residents will get a chance to hear from the City Council on Thursday evening, eight days after the city announced the crypto outbreak.
That meeting, fortunately, was announced four days in advance.
The reputation Baker City’s drinking water has earned over more than a century has been sullied by a microscopic parasite.
As of this writing, tests had not confirmed beyond any doubt that city water is the source of the cryptosporidium infections that have affected dozens of residents.
But the city’s water is the most likely culprit.
It’s not for nothing that city officials on Wednesday morning recommended residents boil tapwater before drinking it or using it to wash their dishes or brush their teeth.
Yet even if, as unlikely as this might be, it turns out that the crypto came from a different source, the citywide crisis this week has convinced us that protecting residents from crypto and other waterborne illness must be the city’s top priority.
To be sure, the nasty little parasite didn’t arrive, as it were, from a clear blue sky.
In 2010 and 2011, lab tests found small numbers of crypto “oocysts” — the protective shell that makes the parasite resistant to the chlorine the city adds to its water to disinfect it against some other contaminants — in three 10-liter samples of city water.
Unfortunately, the presence of crypto wasn’t revealed to the public as soon as it should have been because Michelle Owen, the city’s public works director, failed to review all of the test reports.
Last fall city councilors debated two treatment options. The city’s preferred option has been an ultraviolet light (UV) system that inactivates crypto, giardia and some other parasites. But UV is not as effective as a filtration plant in removing viruses, UV has no effect on chemicals, and a UV system would not protect the water from dirt and ash that could foul streams were a wildfire to burn in the city’s watershed. City officials have worried for many years about such a fire, but the city’s long history of providing pure water has made the investment seem unnecessary.
And it’s a big investment: The extra capabilities of a filtration plant come at a cost of perhaps $15 million, compared with an estimated $2.5 million for a UV system.
But in the wake of a week in which so many people were afflicted with stomach cramps, diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms, in which restaurants and other businesses suffered during a busy weekend, we believe that extra cost is worth it.
Once the crisis is over, city officials should put together a presentation showing how each treatment option would affect customers’ bills.
No treatment plant can be built quickly, of course. But while construction is under way the city needs to institute a rigorous testing program to ensure that, if crypto again pollutes our water, we’ll know as soon as possible.
And if it turns out, as officials have speculated, that mountain goats that live (and poop) near Goodrich Lake, from which the city draws some of its water, are the source of the crypto, the city will need to figure out how to reduce that risk.
Police Chief owes apology for cowboy comments
We read with interest the BCH article dated July 22, 2013, “Police Busy During Jubilee.” For Police Chief Lohner to blame the Bull & Bronc Riding Beer Garden and the rodeo cowboys as the main culprits for disturbances is totally absurd. Per Chief Lohner, “anytime you mix alcohol with confined areas and rodeo cowboys, you’re going to have some issues.” Police Chief Lohner owes the cowboys of Baker County and the USA an apology and if City Manager Mike Kee feels any responsibility for his employee’s statement, he needs to make sure the apology is given.
Mike and Glenda Purvine
Can’t get church leaders to contribute to papers
I’m still on the same trail as of my last letter to the editor, and why? It seems no pastor or church leader has the time or interest to use open doors even when they are offered freely. I’m referring to the offer that both home papers are willing to re-open the “Devotion” page once a week! So far no takers. I’ve heard many arguments of which most hold no water.
The one that infuriates me the most is the excuse that some may be controversial. So be it. If it’s the truth but you are afraid to speak or print it, maybe you should not be a leader?
Now that I’ve made some angry I’ll go on with my stories about the one and only true God. Yes, the only one. Most people who deny the existence of God, his glory, his righteousness, are being led by the devil to destroy themselves whether or not for lack of knowledge. It’s his plan to stop you from entering heaven. Hell is real also, folks. Many kid about it, I did too until I became aware of the facts. I can tell you, you don’t want to go there. It’s forever and there’s no way out. One religion believes you can be prayed out. I have to go by what the Bible teachers, and there’s no basis for this teaching. The Bible in 2 Corinthians 5:8 teaches to be absent from the body (death) is to be present with your Lord. There’s only two Lords to serve. You choose, up or down. Jesus said “choose life” for He is the only life. Well, I didn’t get much of my story in this time, guess God has other plans. That’s all right, maybe next time he’ll let me tell about my trips. How he stopped me from murder, delivered me from many habits. Some say God never spoke to them, maybe you’re not listening. Some say the devil never bothers them, maybe you’re no threat to him, why waste his time on you. Become a threat, things will change.
He was a black child who prospered in a town that was about as white as a town can be.
They are a family which has raised six sons, each of whom has reached the pinnacle of Boy Scouting.
Here is a group of teenagers who epitomize the concept of handling guns safely, and with the respect such instruments demand.
Three stories we’ve published over the past couple weeks.
Each struck me as an example of how the people of Baker City and Baker County can achieve the highest standards to which a civilized society aspires.