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Summer of reading

Summer vacation is perhaps the most hallowed and beloved of traditions for kids.

But it’s not all fun and games.

While they’re going to the beach and the swimming pool and the campground, students tend to forget some of what they learned during the previous school year.

We’re not suggesting summer vacation be canceled.

But we’re awfully glad Baker students have the option of REAL — the Read Everyday And Learn program.

Protecting the Elkhorns

The east face of the Elkhorn Mountains is one of the great natural settings in Baker County, forming the dramatic backdrop for Baker Valley, and it’s in danger.

The threat is fire.

Over the past quarter century, while lightning-sparked blazes charred more than 30,000 acres elsewhere in the Elkhorns, the east face has in the main escaped that fate.

A blaze burned about 1,000 acres on the east side of Red Mountain in September 2006, but before that the last major blaze on the east side of the Elkhorns was the Anthony Burn of 1960.

But you need only look a few miles to the west to see what an ill-timed lightning bolt can do.

Fatigued by ongoing heat, and online idiocy

The heat barged in, the genuine article, and in the manner of a boorish house guest who was not invited, the heat has stayed on.

This summer has seemed to me especially oppressive because it arrived with all the subtlety of a John Bonham drum solo.

June was cool, but pleasantly so, with most afternoons ideal for pulling weeds or taking a nap in a lawn chair. 

The temperature topped 80 on just two days that month. June concluded with a week of highs in the 60s and 70s.

July, by contrast, betrayed its nature immediately.

July 1 was the hottest day of the year — 89 degrees — but it retained the title about as long as Clubber Lang did in “Rocky III."

Letter to the Editor for Aug. 6, 2014

Mosquitoes dead, but what about the other bugs?

Last Tuesday evening I stepped on to my front porch and noticed the dead and dying mosquitoes, bees, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other small insects. So now we are mosquito-free in Baker City for at least a day or two, thanks to vector control and the pesticide sprayed in my neighborhood.

 But what about the honeybees, bumblebees, yellowjackets, flies, ladybugs, moths, spiders and other crawly things too numerous to mention? Weren’t these little casualties supposed to be dinner for a variety of birds and larger insects?

It appears the bird population has diminished considerably in the last 20 years. I’ve not seen a robin in my yard yet this summer. Is it because we are eliminating their food chain? Is there no alternative to simply killing what we find pesky and bothersome? 

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago.  If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”

— E.O. Wilson


“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”

— John Muir


Next year I will request no spray be applied in my yard and I will use the numerous repellents available to me for my bodily comfort.

Susan Castles

Baker City

Keep our crime lab operating

Baker County District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said last week he’s worried about the possibility that Oregon State Police will close its Pendleton crime lab, the only such lab in Eastern Oregon.

We’re worried, too.

To that reaction we add another: disgust.

OSP officials said they have made no decision about the Pendleton lab.

The potential problem, they said, is money.

Specifically, there might not be enough of it for the state’s 2015-17 biennium to avoid cuts in State Police.

This problem has a simple solution.

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 4, 2014

Care about environment? Vote for Democrats this year

Global warming and climate change are caused by more and more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, the current concentration of this greenhouse gas is the highest in the past 800,000 years and likely the highest in the past 20 million years.  

This man-made pollution results from the burning of fossil fuels beginning with the start of the industrial revolution. It is the foundation for projections by climate scientists of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events.  These events are already occurring here and around the world, causing widespread damage and hardship. They include both floods and droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes, fires, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

These scientific facts are widely recognized and accepted. The only reason they have become a political issue (the Herald’s editorial of July 25) is that most Republican leaders deny their existence.

A striking example is Republican Rick Scott, the governor of low-lying Florida, directly endangered by rising sea levels. In May, Scott repeatedly stonewalled questions about the threat of global warming by declaring, “I’m not a scientist.”

We have that same willful ignorance here in Oregon, where Republican candidates are advocating the extraction and burning of even more fossil fuels.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson criticizes Governor Kitzhaber for opposing coal exports, saying “Coal is a fact of life, and exporting coal is a fact of life.” (Record-Courier, June 26).

Republican Representative Greg Walden advocates increased energy production beneath federally-owned lands, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring crude oil to the United States from Canada’s tar sands, and increased exports of natural gas (his newsletter, June 26).

And Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby opposes regulation of greenhouse emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency, while also urging approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (Oregonian, July 20 and July 21).

We can’t vote in Florida, but we sure can vote in Oregon. If you care about the environmental health of our country and of Spaceship Earth, you will strongly support and vote for Governor John Kitzhaber, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Democratic Congressional candidate Aelea Christofferson this November.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Baseball a boost for Baker City

We don’t take many weeks off during the summer in Baker City.

A season that just 15 years or so ago featured but three main events — Miners Jubilee in July and the County Fair and Shrine football game in August — now scarcely pauses for a siesta between the solstice and the equinox.

The two-wheeled twins — the Baker City Cycling Classic and the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally — each bring crowds to town, the former in late June and the latter in July.

The latest addition to the hectic summer schedule happens next week when 10 Babe Ruth baseball teams converge on the Baker Sports Complex for a regional tournament.

In the world of 13- to 15-year-old baseball, this is a big deal.

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 1, 2014

Motorcycle Rally a boon for Baker High School

I want to personally thank the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, organizers and sponsors for their ongoing contribution to Baker High School. The financial impact and support of this event will be felt long after the sound of twin cam engines dissipate from our community. In total, Baker High School welcomed nearly 400 riders/campers for the four-day event and generated nearly $10,000! All money generated from the campers along with the FFA barbecue and Cheerleader Hogwash goes to support our student activities/athletic programs for the upcoming school year. 

The campers that stayed at Baker High School were very kind and courteous during their stay. It was my pleasure to welcome them and I look forward to having them all back next year. 

Thank you Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. With your support, our students and programs benefit greatly. Keep up the good work. 

Benjamin Merrill

Baker High School principal

Baker City

To solve problems we need to sit down and talk

Agreements are difficult to reach when we take positions on most anything. Rather than start with positions like supporting or not supporting a living wage that raises workers above the poverty level, we should examine supporting assumptions and reach even further to consider our basic beliefs. At the bedrock of our belief systems is a view of how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves in relation to others. If we see ourselves as an equal member of the human society, we are apt to believe in equality, leading to sharing and caring for others. Contrastingly, we may assert that each of us is responsible for ourselves, and we should plan and work toward self-sufficiency. We should be able to stand on our own two feet.

Neither of these views is complete. Parts of each are needed to form a sustainable and workable system. After all, we can see how difficult compromise is by looking at our legislature. A big step in reaching compromise is to make agreements at the base level. As an example, let’s say that workers should not have to live at the poverty level. Once this is agreed, then we can discuss just what is the poverty level and how much a worker needs.

Invariably, the subject of welfare comes up, and rightly so. Do able-bodied people take advantage of our welfare system. Yes, they do, but only a few. How do we get around this? Well, it seems simple: People who are physically and mentally unable to work should be taken care of. Able-bodied individuals should be required to work if they want to get the benefits of the welfare system. Yes, this would require an expanded government program, but one with accountability, and one that rewards personal responsibility.

I further believe that we could work towards solutions of most of our problems if we just would sit down together and have honest and unemotional discussions.

Bruce Raffety

Baker City

A year after crypto, feeling (mostly) relieved

My mind maintains that there’s no reason, with UV light now illuminating every drop of Baker City’s water, for me to fret about cryptosporidium.

My intestines beg to differ.

This reaction from my digestive system is not entirely rational, to be sure.

But a week-long bout of stomach cramps and watery diarrhea — a distinction from regular diarrhea that I would have discounted as redundant until I experienced it — is not conducive to sober contemplation.

A year has passed since Baker City’s drinking water, previously celebrated for its purity, turned on us, in the manner of a well-loved dog driven mad by a brain tumor.

I was among the residents afflicted with those unpleasant gastric symptoms in late July and early August of 2013.

Letters to the Editor for July 30, 2014

Drum and Bugle Corps makes it a parade

I was so happy to once again see the Drum and Bugle Corps perform in the Miners Jubilee parade. They made my day!! It  is my belief that if they aren’t in it, it isn’t a parade!!

Alberta Bailey

Baker City

Grateful for a lady’s kindness

On July 24 at checkout stand of a local grocery store, I inadvertently dropped some currency on the floor.

The lady behind me called my attention to it, picked up the dropped currency and handed it to me. Her act of honesty restores my faith in human nature.

She is an employee of Baker City’s newly established  “Bee Hive” facility, and her name tag showed “Terrie.”  I’m  deeply grateful for her kindness. 

Phyllis Badgley

Baker City

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