Remember when Baker County was described as “overwhelmingly Democratic” and “predominantly a Democratic county?”
Such a notion might sound farfetched, if not outright farcical, today, when the county is a Republican mainstay.
It turns out, though, that you needn’t go back so far as the Whig era to reach a period when Democrats boasted an electoral advantage among county voters at least as solid as what GOP candidates have now.
In November 1972, the day after President Richard M. Nixon was re-elected, this newspaper wrote that although Nixon, a Republican, received 55 percent of Baker County’s votes to Democrat George McGovern’s 33 percent, this was, and indeed it remained, “predominantly a Democratic county” based on party affiliations.
Remembering great BHS athletes
The recent passing of Donn Smithpeter brought to mind many recollections of our high school days. He was a longtime friend and schoolmate. Only a few weeks before he died I asked his sister, Deni, to inquire as to our age when Donn gave me his Baker Democrat Herald paper route. Donn said he could not recall, but it was when we were either 10 or 11, as he went to work at the family grocery store on Main Street during the last years of World War II. Delivering papers was much easier than competing with the likes of Jim Pifher or Bobb McKittrick hawking papers at businesses on Main Street.
Baker High was not noted for having highly competitive track teams in the late 1940s or early 1950s, but 1949 turned out to be an exception. There were five members of the boys track team that qualified to go to the Oregon state meet in Corvallis. As Carlyle Staab recalled, they traveled in a car with the track coach. Budgets were tight. Carlyle was the team sprinter and hurdler. Donn was the 440 runner. Don Thompson was the pole vaulter and high jumper. Gerald Church threw the javelin. Harold Parrot ran distance races. Of the five, Carlyle was on the baseball team as pitcher and shortstop, Gerry was also pitcher and fielder, Don was center on the basketball team. Not much time to practice track.
At the state meet Baker High was represented by coach Al Grove (also the football coach, manager John Heriza and the six participants. At the end of the state tournament Baker High was third in team points. Donn with his smooth stride was either third or fourth in the 440-yard dash. Gerald won the javelin. Don won both the high jump and the pole vault. Carlyle placed fifth in the 100-yard dash, third in the 220-yard dash, third in the low hurdles. Harold placed either third or fourth in the mile; and the 880-yard relay team was fifth. The fourth member of the relay team is still a mystery.
Gerry went on to be Oregon State’s (then College, now University) javeline thrower with a throw at the NCAA championships that put him in first place until the final day. Carlyle became a starting guard on the OSC freshman basketball team and shortstop on the baseball team before signing a baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers his sophomore year. Don was a member of the OSC track team during his years there and went on to be an aviator. Donn became a civil engineer from OSC and had a long career in the nuclear power business. John Heriza taught school for his career. Al Grove moved back to the Willamette Valley to coach. Harold is probably still running somewhere, ala Forrest Gump. The folow up on the mystery athlete is still unresolved.
Baker High School Class of 1952
Editor’s note: The author is the uncle of Herald publisher Kari Borgen’s husband, Kerry.
Sage grouse a pawn used to close public land
Those of you who use public lands in Eastern Oregon are faced with another dilemma. The Greater Sage Grouse could potentially close large tracts of BLM land. Once again it appears that those of us who live here are at the mercy of vocal, well-funded special interest groups that not only don’t even live and work in the area, but whose goals are the elimination of all public land grazing practices, and probably have other hidden agendas that will further their elitist plans. The sage grouse appears to be only a pawn in the much larger scheme of keeping the legitimate ranchers, miners, recreational users, hunters, fisherman and other public land users off public lands.
As usual, the BLM caters to the interest groups, ignores concerns of legitimate public land users, sets short comment periods and makes it difficult for those living in the area to comment or respond, but caters to the whims of the deep-pocket elitist groups.
I was also thinking of a future plan with no grazing or access on public lands, tall grass and brush, and a wildfire. That’s not happened before, has it! What then will be the plight of the “endangered sage grouse?” Pre-cooked?
Remember, comment period deadline is Feb. 20. If you want standing in any further BLM sage grouse actions, you must submit a written or email comment. Comments can be mailed to BLM-Greater Sage Grouse EIS, attn: Joan Suther, RE: BLM Resource Management Plan Amendment for Oregon, 1220 S.W. Third Ave., Portland, OR 97204; or email to:
Oregon Rep. Cliff Bentz isn’t promising to have the final word on the efficacy of studded snow tires.
But the Ontario Republican, whose legislative district includes Baker County, certainly is justified in saying that a pending study which he helped to inspire “will provide valuable information for all of us.”
Bentz, who has opposed proposed bans on studded tires in Oregon — a position we share — announced this week that the Oregon Department of Transportation will compile several national and international studies that compare the effectiveness of studded and studless snow tires on a variety of road conditions.
Drivers: Please slow down on 17th Street
I live on 17th Street. The traffic on the corner of Campbell and 17th is real bad. I’d like to know why people feel that have to drive 35 or 40 mph on this street, when they pass cars going the same speed! Once in a great while a cop will catch someone, but not very often.
People walk and run on this road. Someone will get hir or hurt. It’s downright scary. So please slow down. Our speed limit is 25 mph; there are signs. I know there are people who live here too that want you to slow down.
They’ve been measuring snow up at Anthony Lakes for almost as long as they’ve been skiing on it.
Not constantly, of course.
But still this is a considerable span.
For perspective, when the first snow survey was undertaken beneath the imposing granitic prow of Gunsight Mountain, pretty much nobody outside the U.S. Navy had heard of Pearl Harbor.
Hitler wasn’t exactly a household name, either.
Unless your household was in, say, Berlin or Munich.
Oregon’s Public Meetings Law is designed to ensure elected officials conduct their business, which is to say our business, in public forums.
The law applies to city, county and state agencies, but not to federal agencies such as the Forest Service and BLM. We note this distinction by way of setting the stage for a recent situation in which two of the three Baker County commissioners, Mark Bennett and Fred Warner Jr., met with Forest Service officials to get an update on the planned revisions of management plans for the three national forests in the Blue Mountains.
With a three-person board it takes just two to make a quorum. But the presence of a quorum doesn’t necessarily mean the gathering is a public meeting — one which the board must publicly announce in advance and which the public is entitled to attend.
Watching a Good Samaritan at work in Baker City
As I sat down at my desk this morning (Jan. 31), I looked out my window and saw the Community Connection bus stop in front of the Presbyterian Church and driver Bob White jumps out and runs over to a lady walking on the ice-packed sidewalk. He then helps escort her to the front door of the church. I got goosebumps as I realized that he was going out of his way to assist this woman. He saw someone who was walking on icy walkways and ran to help. I holler at my co-worker Kelly, “come here and look at this.” We “ooooh” and “awww” as we watch this Good Samaritan and we think, what a great way to start our Friday morning to see something that fills your heart to know that there are such caring people here in Baker City!
County meeting with Forest Service without notice
You, born a free man or woman in America, are being told it is for your own good to not be allowed to travel into your mountains. You are told that once the USFS gets its way with road closures, aka “travel management,” that you may be fined $5,000 or be subject to two years in prison for doing nothing more than what your great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents have done for generations, that is travel freely into your mountains. Again, penalized for living your life and following your own order of life of pursuing your life, liberty, and happiness.
The USFS and elected officials have “rules” to follow. In case of the USFS, they work under “planning rules” of which they are picking and choosing from as to meet out their desired condition of “may meet with objectors” using the 2012 planning rule, for a plan that is being developed under the 1982 planning rule that states the USFS “must meet with appellants.” And of which our current forest supervisor has admitted mixing of those planning processes would be inappropriate for them to do, and yet, they are doing it right now.
Our elected officials are currently meeting with WWNF staff in a quorum fashion, meaning a majority of the elected commission body is present (2 out of 3), and discussing the Forest Plan Revision, which constitutes a “public meeting,” however they have failed to give public notice of any such meetings, even though the WWNF staff has been told the public wants notice of those meetings. Which gives just another example of officials breaking the rules/laws to meet out their own agendas.
You will be not allowed to travel down roads the USFS deems unnecessary, or that your elected officials negotiate away in collaborative groups, but when they find it uncomfortable to have you at a meeting, or more convenient to mix rules to meet out their desired outcome, bending and breaking the rules is completely acceptable, will you be afforded the same latitudes when you’re caught not obeying?
John D. George
Linthicum would bring fresh viewpoint to Congress
A breath of fresh air blew into Baker City Saturday, Jan. 24 in the form of a new Republican candidate for U.S. Congress. Dennis Linthicum, with his wife, spent nearly two hours with a small group of us at the Little Bagel Shop discussing his ideas and ideals and answering our questions. His platform is from a strong, long-term constitutional conservative viewpoint, something sadly missing from our nation’s legislator mix. Those in particular who would like to see the western states become more prosperous will be interested in learning more about Dennis.
One of Dennis’ objectives, on which he will need a lot of help, is to essentially turn the federal managed forests, the national forests, into state forests with no federal involvement. Consider what that would do for the management of our forests and for the state’s economy! At the present time more than 50 percent of the western states is controlled by the federal government. Thus it controls our natural resources, including minerals and mineral exploration, access for enjoyment, forest products, access to wildlife, etc., all of which could be better managed and enjoyed by those who live in the vicinity. But his interests and potential influence is far broader than just resources.
The following quote from Dennis pretty well indicates his position on the things that matter most to those of us who live in Oregon: “Favoritism has become the status quo in politics, but it is nevertheless unjust and unfair. Government restricts our freedoms every day, and gives us few choices about our lives through bureaucracies, corporate welfare and needless regulations. In both our business and personal spheres, we are seeing our choices shrink and options fade, and we know that it’s time to bring common sense and liberty back to Oregon.”
How could one disagree?
Dennis’ website is Dennis2014.com, his email is
and his phone number is 541-892-6512. He would welcome your questions and comments.
Baker City Mayor Richard Langrell, who is demanding the city reimburse him almost $15,000 in water and sewer bills he paid over the past nine years, should give up his title.
But he also should continue to serve as a city councilor, representing the people who elected him in November 2012.
In the council-manager form of government that Baker City adopted more than half a century ago, the title of mayor carries no special powers. The mayor can’t, for instance, veto a decision by his colleagues.
Basically, the mayor’s duties, beyond that of a regular councilor, are to preside over meetings and sign ordinances and other documents.
Even as a company that has roots dating back over 125 years, we believe in the philosophy of adapting to changing times to promote our growth and development. Since my family first purchased property in Eastern Oregon in the 1870s, our business has grown to four locations, including our main location in North Powder. And, for more than 30 years, Beef Northwest has made use of general aviation aircraft and I can say with full certainty that without this critical business tool, we would not be able to serve our many customers across the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Spaying and neutering pets saves animals’ lives
According to the Humane Society of the United States, nearly 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. That means one homeless pet is euthanized about every 12 seconds. Often these animals are the offspring of cherished family pets, even purebreds. Maybe someone’s cat or dog got out just that one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good, permanent homes failed. The result is that homeless animals have to be euthanized. Spaying and neutering saves lives.
Spay/neuter awareness month takes place in February, and World Spay Day takes place on Feb. 25. New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals, the Alpine Veterinary Hospital, Baker Animal Clinic, the Baker Animal Hospital, Baker City and Baker County along with humane organizations, rescue groups, veterinary clinics and individuals across the U.S. and around the world are organizing reduced cost spay/neuter clinics, and are bringing awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering. To volunteer or to spay/neuter your pet at reduced cost, call me at 541-523-6863 or visit www.newhopeforanimals.org. Together, we can ensure every pet enjoys a long, happy and healthy live in a loving home.
New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals spay and neuter chairman
We need to get rid of the perch in Phillips Reservoir
Continuing to allow perch to remain in Phillips Reservoir is costing Baker County over $1.5 million a year in revenue. If you would like this to be corrected, let the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife know your feelings.
You may hear the same old stories:
1. We are netting perch yearly in Phillips Reservoir.
2. We can’t use Rotenone, it will kill all the fish, including the bull trout, if any. Ask them how many bull trout they have netted out of Phillips the past four years. By the way, if no bull trout are found in Phillips, do the perch eat them? I would wager to say over a million perch are inhabiting Phillips.
3. A third argument they have is what about the environmentalists? OK, they have used Rotenone in other places in Oregon (i.e., in Malheur County and in Western Oregon) with positive results.
4. Oh, by the way, they will probably say Rotenone is too expensive. Rotenone would be used one year and would not need to be used again for probably 10 years. My response to that is what about the $1.5 million Baker County is losing each year?
Now is the time to get with it. Wouldn’t it be great if the fishing for trout in Phillips was as good as it was in the 70s before someone illegally introduced perch in Phillips? Fellow sportsmen, if we continue to have such a shortage of water or climate change, it would be the perfect time to Rotenone Phillips Reservoir. I understand that is not a poison and the flow of Rotenone can be controlled so it will not go downstream from the dam. Timing is essential to cut the cost of Rotenone and cut the loss of revenue occurring yearly in Baker County.
Good fishing for trout would result in the return of the fishermen.