Baker City lacks the archetypal university campus with its tree-lined walkways and imposing, ivy-bearded buildings.
But for many local residents who want to further their education, what we do have is, well, better.
Blue Mountain Community College gives the so-called “non-traditional” student (as though there’s anything unconventional about a person wanting to learn) flexible options in pursuing a degree that aren’t always available at four-year universities.
It’s no real surprise, then, that the college, which is based in Pendleton but has a satellite campus in Baker City, is becoming a more popular choice for Baker County students.
Enrollment locally has increased almost three-fold in the past five years.
In addition to convenient schedules — including online classes available for students who need them — Blue Mountain’s tuition is a bargain, at about $45 less per credit than its closest competitor.
Students can choose to earn an associate’s degree, or transfer their credits to a four-year university where they can go on to earn a bachelor’s degree.
The bottom line is that Baker County residents needn’t leave home to acquire a higher education.
I was awakened, a little before dawn Tuesday, by the gentle patter of rain splashing off the elderberry bush outside my bedroom window.
This shower briefly escalated into a rather more percussive one before subsiding.
On the roster of things likely to rouse me in the night, rain ranks way down there.
It’s above, say, earthquake or avalanche.
But far below the soft thud of two little feet, followed by the tale, told in a whimpering tone, about a bad dream.
Local Forest Service officials want to hear what you have to say about the plan to ban motor vehicles on some roads on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
We recommend you take them up on the offer.
Although we doubt many people will need much prodding to make themselves heard on this matter.
The various disputes that have dominated our coverage of the Baker School Board the past several months do not, as the saying goes, constitute a good thing.
But neither is it a terrible thing.
This dysfunction has resulted in board member Kyle Knight being censured by three of his colleagues, in Knight considering filing a civil lawsuit, and in a campaign to recall board members Lynne Burroughs and Mark Henderson.
But what hasn’t happened is more important than any of those things: The core purpose of the Baker School District, which is to give every student the chance to attain a quality education, has not been diminished.
Whatever else transpires this summer, we’re confident that come late August, when classes reconvene, teachers will be in their rooms.
Buses will deliver students to their schools.
Kids will scamper outside at the recess bell, and eat their lunches (or not, as the case may be).
These scenes of utter normalcy shouldn’t surprise anyone.
I’m supporting 5J recall
Enough with all this bickering and pettiness! Our school board, while volunteers, should conduct itself professionally. We should not see sniping, eye-rolling, and punitive actions. We should not see board members (employers) joining with a district administrator (employee) against another member of the board (one of the employers).
It is with a heavy heart that I think these volunteers should direct their talents somewhere that is not the local 5J Board. I am embarrassed that our board members cannot become a cohesive and positive force for the children in our district.
Please join me in promoting the Burroughs-Henderson Recall.
Elizabeth Campbell Huntsman
I’ve been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” anthology to my daughter, Olivia, who just turned 5.
We’re going about this in a haphazard way.
(More so than usual, anyway — any reading endeavor which involves 5-year-olds can hardly be described as regimented.)
We started with “Farmer Boy,” the only book in the series in which Laura herself doesn’t even show up.
I can at least justify this decision on chronological grounds. The titular character in “Farmer Boy” — Laura’s future husband, Almanzo Wilder — was a decade older than she, so the events in the book actually predated Laura’s birth.
Which makes it pretty tough for the author to insert herself in what’s purported to be a work of non-fiction.
Wind farm imperils rare grass
The Oregon semaphore grass is a unique and amazing grass that occurs in two populations within the state of Oregon, and nowhere else in the world. It has a global heritage rank of G1, “critically imperiled because of the extreme rarity.” (Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species of Oregon, October 2010; Oregon Biodiversity Information Center, Institute of Natural resources, Portland State University).
Construction of the Antelope Ridge Wind Facility in Union County constitutes a threat to the Oregon semaphore grass. EDP Renewables chose to ignore it in their application until the Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley challenged them to address it. This rare plant is on the chopping block due to a renewable energy program that is proving to not be environmentally friendly that will ultimately provide less than 1 percent of our energy production. The question now is how many other endangered species of plants and animals are being ignored?
Not good news for Romney?
Local Obama critic Pete Sundin (June 13 Herald) notes that attorney John Wolfe of Chattanooga, Tenn., has garnered a significant percentage of votes in several state Democratic presidential primaries. Sundin concludes that there is much discontent with their president among Democrats, which would seem to bode well for Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
What Sundin fails to tell the reader is that Wolfe is farther left politically than Obama. He wants tighter regulation of big banks and expanded use of Medicare. Democrats and independents who voted for Wolfe may be even less likely to vote for Mitt Romney.
We weren’t especially bothered when the U.S. Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision in 2010, allowed corporations and labor unions to spend as much money as they want on political advertising.
Our equanimity was based on two main factors.
First, the budgets for high-level campaigns were measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars before Citizens United. It’s not as if the high court’s ruling suddenly changed the American electoral system from a purely grassroots undertaking into a corporate-controlled echo chamber.
Second, even the justices among the 5-4 majority in Citizens United — and in particular Anthony Kennedy — emphasized that they intended that voters would be able to track which corporation or union was funneling money into campaigning.
So much for intentions.
In the 2ﬁ years since Citizens United, it’s become clear that creative accounting can in some cases obscure from voters’ eyes the dollars behind the messages that bombard us with each election cycle.
(And you can imagine the barrage which awaits us as Nov. 6 nears.)
A bill languishing in Washington, D.C., aims to remove that veil from voters’ view. The DISCLOSE Act (the acronym comes from “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections”) would require organizations, including corporations, super PACs, unions and nonprofits (not including 501(c)(3) charitable groups) to disclose contributions of more than $10,000. They also would have to reveal the names of individuals who donate money to them for political purposes.
Some Republicans in the Senate, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, oppose DISCLOSE.
We wonder why these senators want to keep voters in the dark about who’s buying all those ads.
Voters should look at Romney’s record, too
Pete Sundin tries to make a case (letters 6/13) for looking askance at President Obama’s accomplishments before casting our vote, drawing from major untruths perpetuated in the GOP/Romney platform. Perhaps Sundin doesn’t realize that far from being a big taxer, under Obama taxes are at their lowest level in decades. Similarly, Obama has spent less in new programs than any president since World War II, of course adding to the federal budget the cost of Bush’s two undeclared and unfunded wars increases our deficit, and his assertion that Obama is bad for jobs and business is refuted by the stock market going from 7,000 to 12,500 while business profits are the highest in history, and not surprisingly, any slowing of jobs growth coincides with the do-nothing 2010 GOP Congress blocking his policies.
Looking at Romney, who claims he ran a company which invested in struggling business without ever taking a bailout and touts his business acumen as the cornerstone of his campaign, we see a CEO (Bain) who sought and accepted a $10 million federal bailout (Boston Globe, Oct. 25, 1994) after making bad investments that he wanted the U.S. taxpayer to pony up for and in the tortured logic of the GOP, his dismembering and gutting businesses while stripping them of assets and laying off many thousands of workers is to be admired?
Yes, indeed, do look hard before you vote.
The thousands of motorcycle riders who congregate in Baker City for the annual Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally have pretty much everything the need here.
Except decent weather.
This dilemma is easily solved, though. We support the rally organizers’ plan to schedule the event, which has taken place in early June, for later in the summer.
Mid-August seems the most logical option. That doesn’t coincide with other local events, nor with the much larger motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., which is set this year for Aug. 6-12.
As for the weather, consider these numbers: average June rainfall: 1.33 inches; average in August: .85.