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Protest, but don’t destroy


Some people contend that the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin illustrates an inherent injustice of the American legal system —- one that’s racially motivated.

We disagree.

We agree that Martin should still be alive.

And we agree that he probably would be alive, had Zimmerman chosen to stay in his car rather than pursue the teenager that night in February 2012.

 

Letters to the Editor for July 15, 2013


Ison House acquisition is about more than just dollars and cents

This letter is in response to editorial published by the Baker City Herald on July 10. As the recently elected president of HBC, it is my responsibility to defend the reputation of this 30-year-old volunteer organization.

The Ison House is not an asset held by Historic Baker City Inc. (HBC). It is an asset of Historic Baker City Charitable Fund, LTD. Article II of the corporation states in part the following: The corporation is a public benefit corporation and is organized for the charitable purpose of supporting the preservation of historic buildings in Baker City, Oregon and promoting and enhancing the National Historic District in Baker City, Oregon; soliciting, receiving, holding, investing and administering contributions made to the corporation to carry out its purpose; entering into contracts with public and private entities to carry out its purpose; engaging in any lawful activity, none of which is for profit. In accordance with the charitable fund’s stated mission, it is clearly directed to enter into contracts with public and private entities to carry out its purpose. Moreover, the fund is to engage in activity, “none of which is for profit.” We cannot think of a more deserving non-profit organization to partner with than one that serves our veterans. As a partner in the project, the VAOI also shares the costs of any future remodeling, maintenance, security, and/or operational expenses. Although the present board was not involved in the initial contract, we take our contractual obligations very seriously — and will honor them.

This story isn’t just about dollars and cents, it’s about job creation, building social capital, and managerial skills for future historic preservation and restoration projects as part of a long term economic development plan.My Opinion: The armchair quarterbacks on the other side of this debate never play the game. They take no initiative, assume no risk, incur no injuries, hold no liability, and shoulder no responsibility. We are proud of the initiative that was taken to acquire the Ison House by both the previous board, the current board, and by the executive director, Kate Dimon. 

Eugene Stackle

President, Historic Baker City Inc.

HBC should strive to maintain its high reputation

I was shocked to read Wednesday’s editorial! Bank of America agreed to sell the Ison House to HBC for $1, VAOI does not have a right to half this property.

 This is only one of a list of issues that has, in the past year or more, been dragging down a fantastic organization that has thrived for over 25 years. As a former business owner in downtown Baker City I personally had been involved with Historic Baker City, Inc. (HBC) for over 10 years. In that time we have seen ups and downs within the organization, but through it all HBC has survived.  

We are recognized on a state and national level as a “Performing Main Street,” an honor that takes hard work by the HBC program director and the dedicated board of directors.  All of Baker City should be proud of this!

I would encourage the current board of directors to pay attention to the importance of maintaining our recognition with the state, and the continuing support to downtown businesses. HBC must maintain a secure source of funding and the board of directors have the responsibility to make sure that happens. The board must also be sure to maintain a good relationship with the city through the city’s liaison on your board and honoring the contract between you.  And lastly, by guiding the actions of  the downtown director in carrying out your goals and objectives each year.  

I want to continue to support HBC, but I also want transparency. If the board of directors is choosing to take a different path, I urge you to let us know what that is immediately.

Gail Duman

Baker City

Documentary examines decline of the middle class

A  FRONTLINE video documentary titled “Two American Families” aired July 11 on OPB. It’s a program of vital importance, because it puts a compelling human face on the devastation caused by growing U.S. economic inequality. It offers a unique, visual record of the resultant decline of the American middle class by following the struggles of two typical families over the past 20 years. I urge all of my fellow readers to view it and then take meaningful action. It is available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/two-american-families/

 Award-winning journalist Bill Moyers, the producer of the program, says that this is “the defining story of my career, because it’s the defining story of what’s happened in this country in the last 30 years.”  The American Dream has been turned on its head. Hard work and dedication no longer hold the promise of a better life for us and for our children.  

Off-shoring and automation have eliminated good-paying, family-wage jobs, while output has actually doubled. The profits from this greatly improved productivity have flowed to the top one percent, who pay extremely low taxes, who actively work to shred the social safety net, and who call themselves “job creators.” On his or her own, even the most determined among us cannot fight a headwind like this. 

Automation offers us escape from mind-numbing, repetitive human toil and drudgery.  But, as a nation, we’ve failed to adopt policies that respond to resultant job elimination, fewer work hours, and stagnating or declining wages. We’re condemning increasing millions of us to economic insecurity and lost hope of a decent retirement.

Please watch FRONTLINE’s powerful “Two American Families.” It’s time for vigorous national dialogue and debate and for all of us to work together and with Congress to replace harmful national policies and reinstate the American Dream.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

 

Letters to the Editor for July 12, 2013


Historic preservation is vital to keeping Baker City special 

“The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.”

— Mark Twain

By KATE DIMON

In the late 1840s the country still did not quite have a grip on how the American experiment was going, but the prevailing theme ran through the veins as gold to rock. Gold had become the driving force that populated the West and the trail is littered with those brave souls who risked everything to get to the promised land. Mark Twain could see the human condition and wrote with less than stellar reviews, the truth. That man wrote history to make his struggle personal.

 

 

Problems, potential profits


Two weekends ago, bicycles were the most common sight on certain Baker City streets.

Starting today, and continuing through Sunday, the two-wheeled conveyance of choice is the motorcycle.

We support both the Baker City Cycling Classic and the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. Both bring hundreds of people to town, most of whom spend at least a little money while they’re here. 

We recognize, though, that neither event is universally beloved.

To be blunt, both can cause hassles of varying degrees.

 

Authors dig into a big piece of Baker’s history


There is no pleasure quite like slouching into the embrace of a soft chair, flipping to the first page of a book, and realizing, in that instant, that the whole of the tale awaits, as faithful as the best dog you ever knew.

It’s like starting a vacation.

Or standing on the front porch of the girl’s house who you finally forced yourself to telephone, and she said sure, she’d love to go to the movie with you.

This glorious anticipation seems to me especially rich when the book has to do with real places that I’ve been to, and plan to visit again.

 

Letter to the Editor for July 10, 2013


Haines Baptist proves patriotism alive and well

We want to thank Haines Baptist Church for performing “A Patriotic Evening” Sunday, June 30.

It was beautiful and awe-inspiring. We left with smiles and an uplifted heart. We’re thankful for all the talented people in our community.

Patriotism is alive and well! We are a blessed nation.

Do it again!

Bev and Duane Schaer

Baker City

 

HBC’s deal a bad one


We’re afraid that Historic Baker City Inc. has let a financial windfall slip away.

Half of it, anyway.

We were initially elated to learn last year that the unfortunate closure of Bank of America’s Baker City branch, which was located in the 126-year-old Ison House, had one beneficial side effect.

Kate Dimon, HBC’s director, secured from Bank of America officials a deal by which the company would sell the Ison House, at the corner of Washington and Resort, to HBC for $1.

That’s a single buck.

Which is a good price indeed for a property which has a market value of $320,000, according to the Baker County Assessor’s Office.

 

No-spray map is a good idea

Although opinions vary widely about the use of pesticides, we’d wager that everyone agrees that these toxins should be used as sparingly as possible.

People who dislike pesticides obviously want the use minimized.

But so do the farmers, ranchers and others who rely on pesticides to control insects, weeds and diseases that can harm their businesses. For them, pesticide sprayed where it’s not needed amounts to a waste of money.

Which is why we endorse the idea, proposed by organic farmer Dick Haines, to create a countywide map showing properties whose owners don’t want pesticides getting onto their land.

In making his pitch to county commissioners, Haines emphasized that he’s not trying to prevent anyone from using pesticides.

His idea, rather, is to make it possible, by means of a computerized map, for people who do need to use pesticides to see which properties could be affected negatively.

Ideally, pesticide users would be able to tailor their spraying plan to reduce the potential effect on other properties, while still dealing with the pests.

Haines encourages people who’d like to have their property added to the map to phone him at 541-523-3554.

 

We need to fight fires, but is the cost too dear?

I fought fires on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest for three summers, 1989-1991.

About the worst thing that ever happened to me was once I had to stay out overnight unexpectedly and I had little to eat except a package of Wheat Thins of the size the stores would sell for Halloween, if homeowners often handed out crackers as treats.

Which, fortunately, they do not.

There’s nothing funny about fighting wildfires, though.

Firefighters die.

They die in van crashes while driving to fires.

Trees fall and crush their skulls.

Helicopters and slurry bombers crash.

And, perhaps most horrible of all because it seems so personal, so terribly ironic, sometimes the flames, which are nothing so much as a tornado of combustion, turn and strike at those who would corral them.

On Sunday, 19 firefighters, members of an elite Hotshot crew from Prescott, Ariz., were overcome by flames while trying to stop a fire advancing on Yarnell, Ariz.

Firefighting gets into the news often, of course, and much of the public debate has to do with whether the federal government, which has been racking up billion-dollar firefighting tabs in recent years, is spending too much.

I don’t care.

A billion dollars is a pittance in federal terms.

What I wonder is whether we’re spending too many lives, most of them young lives, on this campaign.

My gut answers yes.

But the question, I fear, is too complex for simplistic answers based on emotion rather than reflection.

The Prescott Hotshots weren’t engaged in a dubious enterprise, weren’t trying to prevent flames from killing trees 10 miles from anywhere.

They were protecting a town, people and houses.

We won’t cease sending firefighters into such places, nor should we.

The real conundrum, though, is that it’s well nigh impossible to recognize, hours or even days in advance, which fire is likely to transform from merely dangerous to deadly.

When that transformation depends on factors as fickle as the winds of a thunderstorm, well, we’d as well consult tea leaves or goat entrails.

Tragedies on the scale of the Arizona disaster are exceedingly rare, to be sure.

Sunday’s death toll of 19 was the highest, for a wildfire in the U.S., since 1933.

Yet the balm of the actuarial tables is cold comfort, indeed it’s no comfort at all, when you’ve just watched a procession of vans carrying 19 bodies to the coroner’s office.

. . .

When the first drop of sweat slides into the corner of your eye before you’ve made even one full revolution with the socket wrench, you understand that you picked the wrong time for the job.

The wrong hour.

Quite possibly the wrong year.

I winced at the slight sting of the sweat. The socket, which I had been tugging on with considerable force, leaped off the nut with all the stupid suddenness of a tool (tools, I am convinced, do not like me, probably because I’m mechanically inept, and that they delight in every bruise, gash or puncture wound they can inflict).

I rapped my knuckles on the gate hinge I was trying to set straight so that it would latch properly. This hurt more than the sweat in my eye, and was infinitely more annoying besides.

It was scarcely past 9 in the morning. When I stepped outside wielding a wrench and a hammer, it seemed to me not terribly hot.

Warm certainly, but nothing like the inferno the forecasters were predicting for the afternoon.

I pegged the gate repair as a five-minute job requiring the two simple hand tools and, fortunately for my fingers, neither motors nor reciprocating parts.

What I didn’t count on was breaking out so quickly into that flop sweat.

This prompted me to consult my array of meteorological instruments, which is not so much redundant as it is ridiculous.

Anyway the devices told the tale: The humidity ranged from 55 percent to 75 percent.

These of course are figures more typical of summer in, say, Savannah, Ga., or St. Louis than in Baker City.

 We suffer here from what’s known, with a certain affection, as a dry heat.

I’ve never much cottoned to that term, mainly because it seemed to me misleading.

But my painful experience at the front gate was something of an epiphany.

I used to bristle at references to dry heat because it implies that even when it goes over 95 around here that’s not so bad because the humidity, like as not, is less than 15 percent.

Well, that’s about what it’s like inside a lumber kiln, and I daresay there’s nothing pleasant about being inside a lumber kiln.

Or any kind of kiln, come to that.

But now that I’ve experienced, albeit in a brief and minor way, the combination of heat and humidity that’s endemic to the Midwest and the South, I concede that the defenders of dry heat make a pretty compelling point.

The older of my two sisters lived in Southern Virginia for seven years, returning to Oregon last August, and she tried to explain to me how uncomfortable truly sultry weather can be.

Her husband, Bill, told me about having to run his windshield wipers on clear days because the air was so heavy with moisture even though the temperature was in the 80s.

Try to fix a gate in weather like that — try to open a gate, for that matter — and you’d probably need to hook up an IV to ward off dehydration.

I stand by my belief that beyond a certain threshold on the thermometer — 90, maybe — it’s a scorcher no matter how low the humidity.

Death Valley’s even drier than Baker City, but you don’t see people frolicking around there on summer afternoons.

And I’m not talking about convulsions.

Still and all, I’m more respectful than before of the power of humidity.

It laid a few of my knuckles low and that only took a few minutes.

If I had to perform even my modest household chores anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line, well, I’d be a repeat customer at the prosthetics store.

Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald.

 

Eat your fill, tiger muskies


We wish good hunting, and good eating, to the newest residents of Phillips Reservoir.

Tiger muskies.

These are the little fish — little for now, anyway; they can grow to 3 feet or more — with what Oregon fish biologists hope is a big appetite for yellow perch.

This latest tactic in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) anti-perch campaign is elegant in its simplicity.

 
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