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A new element foils city’s plan

By Baker City Editorial Board

Phosphorus is among the more humble elements but it could turn out to be more costly to Baker City residents than gold.

The issue is sewage.

Or, as engineers prefer to call it, wastewater.

The city’s challenge is to dispose of this stuff in a way that causes the least damage to the environment.

For several decades the city has piped wastewater to a quartet of lagoons a mile or so north of Hughes Lane. The purpose of these lagoons, also aptly known as settling ponds, is to let the, well, solid constituents of wastewater fall to the bottom, leaving somewhat less polluted water.

There are other steps to the process, but the basic idea is to leave wastewater in the lagoons for a while and then pipe it into the nearby Powder River.

City officials have known for several years that this traditional practice would eventually run afoul of state and federal laws. The prime concerns are that the wastewater is too warm and that its pH level harms fish habitat.

Rather than wait for deadlines to be set, city officials have spent considerable time looking at options. In 2010 the City Council decided that the best alternative, not least because it appeared to be the cheapest, is to build a pipeline to carry wastewater from the lagoons to a site along Baldock Slough, east of Interstate 84 near the Baker Valley rest area, where the wastewater would create a wetlands.

Several cities have done this, including La Grande.

Which is where phosphorus enters the scene.

In the past few years regulatory agencies, as is their wont, have changed the rules. The current concern, City Manager Mike Kee said, is that phosphorus, which can damage fish habitat, would leach from the wetland and get into the Powder River.

A DEQ official urged the City Council to consider an alternative: using wastewater to irrigate a crop such as alfalfa. Kee said most of the phosphorus would be taken up by the crop, which is then harvested, so the phosphorus doesn’t get into the river.

Here’s the rub: Land application, as the latter method is known, likely would cost twice as much as the wetlands option. The reason, Kee said, is that with land application the city would have to build more lagoons. The current lagoons are almost at capacity, and land application is feasible for only the four or five months of the year when crops are growing.

The advantage to wetlands is that wastewater can be piped to the site year-round, eliminating the need to add lagoon capacity.

A possibly reason for optimism, Kee said, is Roseburg. That city is putting its wastewater into a wetland, and a study suggested that it would take a century for enough phosphorus to accumulate to pose a risk to nearby streams.

We’d like to believe that regulatory agencies will be flexible, and at least consider that forcing Baker City residents to spend twice as much money for a possibly negligible environmental benefit is neither wise nor fair.

But we’re not confident.

Besides which, even if the city can solve the phosphorus problem, there is the not minor matter of the rest of the Periodic Table from which regulators could potentially select the next danger.

Have you counted the elements, many of them nasty pollutants, on that thing?


Letters to the Editor for July 24, 2013


Worried about extending authority of executive branch

Concerning the guest editorial from Bend of July 15 about the unconstitutionality of Obama’s decision to extend the employer’s compliance with the employee insurance from 2014 to 2015. It is a valid point because the executive branch does not have authority to change a law passed by the legislative branch. Unfortunately for those opposed to Obamacare, the Health Care Bill contains a provision giving authority to the Secretary to make whatever decisions of an administrative nature necessary to facilitate the gathering of information for the implementation of the bill.


Sobering statistics from Miners Jubilee


There was much to like about this year’s Miners Jubilee.

Baker City’s annual summer celebration continues to feature a variety of events attractive to families — a parade with plenty of candy skittering across the asphalt, a fun center at the park, a chance for kids to pan a few flakes of gold.

Police Chief Wyn Lohner offers a vastly different, and quite troubling, view.

His memo summarizing Miners Jubilee includes such phrases as “drunk lady bleeding from arms and knees,” and another person “too intoxicated to walk or be left alone,” and a “passed out male trying to get into a vehicle between periods of consciousness.”

Put simply, too many people are drinking too much alcohol during Miners Jubilee.


Letters to the Editor for July 22, 2013


There’s no need for wind power in Baker County

 How kind of Mr. Dielman to attack another person who he disagrees with. He implies that the “World’s Scientific Community” believes we have global warming or should I say climate change. They seem to use this term interchangeably. I would like to point out some well-known facts. 2,000 scientists who work with or for the U.N. have stated that we have global warming. 31,000 scientists have signed a petition rejecting global warming. One would have to believe that 31,000 scientist can’t be all wrong.

I applaud Mr. Dielman in his sharing of history which he does a great job of. Thank you! It would be beneficial for him to look back in history. He would find: 1930s: “Highest temperatures of the century.” The last 15 years: “no recordable temperature change.”

Let us look at wind power. There is no need for wind power in Baker County! Robert Kennedy Jr. states, regarding wind turbines off Cape Cod: “They would impoverish the experience of millions of tourists and residents and families who rely on the Sound’s unspoiled bounties.” Martin O’Malley, Maryland’s Democratic governor — in 2008 he banned wind turbines from state-owned lands claiming “that windmills would reduce the land’s recreational value, spoil the landscape and lower property values.”

It would seem that global warming activists don’t want wind turbines in their backyards — they want to put them in yours. Mr. Dielman, there are people who do not think like you, but they don’t attack you for your beliefs. They just realize that we very much disagree on these issues.

Bill Harvey

Haines

Disparaging religious faith doesn’t help argument

Gary Dielman’s letter of July 17, 2013, attempted to rebut Jerry Boyd’s argument against wind farms in Baker County. In doing so, Dielman engaged in an ad hominem attack against my husband — hardly a civil way to voice one’s opinion on a political issue.

Dielman unintentionally pays my husband a compliment in saying that “Jerry Boyd is a firm believer in showing obedience to Catholic Church doctrine.” Indeed he is! That is the nature of being Catholic! However, Jerry’s faithful adherence to the Catholic Church has no bearing on his letter about wind farms, nor with his assertions about the untruth of global warming ideology. In fact, a recent Forbes magazine article on the subject didn’t mention the Catholic Church once, but still put the lie to Dielman’s argument. There are many in the scientific community who acknowledge the evidence that “global warming” is in fact a scam.  See http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2013/07/08/as-the-earth-cools-obamas-still-distracted-by-a-fraudulent-warming-narrative/

In addition, Dielman, by playing the “Galileo card,” implies that there’s something wrong with the fact that Jerry practices his Catholic faith. Dielman implies that Galileo was a champion of scientific thought while the Church was hopelessly mired in the dark ages of non-scientific thought. WRONG, Mr. Dielman! The Church was more concerned with Galileo’s inadequate defense of his scientific theory than with the theory itself. Those who like to hold up Galileo as the poster child for anti-Catholic sentiment simply persist in promoting the myths, rather than the facts, about Galileo’s disagreement with the Church. Do the research!

Dielman’s blatant disparagement of my husband’s faith is inexcusable. Sadly, I believe Catholics will experience more of this, given the current political scene, and that it will be tolerated where demeaning comments about other faiths (and secular “lifestyles”) will not. I was hoping Baker City might escape the bigotry.

Jay Boyd

Baker City


Wind farms pose too big a risk for county


The debate over whether Baker County should welcome wind farms can be distilled to a cost-benefit analysis.

Would wind farms enrich the county more than they degrade it?

Our answer is no — a proliferation of wind turbines (there are just six in the county now) would not be to Baker County’s long-term advantage.


Letters to the Editor for July 19, 2013


Ison House deal is no mistake

By David Dimon

Editor’s note: The author is the husband of HBC program director Kate Dimon.

This letter is in response to the Baker City Herald editorial “HBC’s deal a bad one.” I am not affiliated with either Historic Baker City, Inc., or with Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, but I am very familiar with both entities. I am writing this letter because I have detailed knowledge of how the Ison House deal went down. I am not afraid to step on any toes or feel the need to remain politically correct. 

 I feel that it would have proven advantageous to the editor to perform due diligence and actually communicate with the parties involved, instead of relying on a brief phone call from Clair Button. A modicum of journalistic integrity would have required some fact-checking before printing this editorial. Why hasn’t anyone from the newspaper even contacted VAOI about the Ison House deal?


A joke leads an independent into party politics


Ryc Rienks’ foray into partisan politics started as a joke.

And although Ryc, who lives in Baker City, hasn’t lost his sense of humor, he’s pretty serious about his new role in the political system.

Ryc, 69, had been registered as an independent.

So had his wife, Penny.

But last year, feeling a trifle disenfranchised by Oregon’s sometimes restrictive primary election system, the couple decided to consider registering as either Republicans or Democrats.


Letters to the Editor for July 17, 2013


Businesses need to make their signs visible

I was surprised Mr. Harvey blamed the bicycle racers for “shutting down” his business during the Baker City Classic bike race. I have lived in Baker City for almost 10 years, Mr. Harvey, and I read the paper pretty closely. I did not know there was a bagel store in town. Today I drove in just to see your store. From Main Street as I drove by I saw your store on my second trip down Main. With a sunny day and having to watch the pedestrians crossing the street, not to mention the other cars, your sign on both the window and the eave is dark and almost illegible from my car and I was looking for you. I recall the best advice to a new businessman as being, “location, location, location.” I would add for you, “advertise, advertise, advertise”  and make your signs more easily read from the street.

Iva Mace

Baker City

Denying climate change runs counter to science

Jerry Boyd is a firm believer in showing obedience to Catholic Church doctrine.  (See Baker City Herald letter of April 11, 2012.)  If Boyd had lived in Galileo’s time, would he have denounced Galileo, as the Catholic Church did, for saying that the Earth is not the center of the universe? Probably.  

That’s exactly what he does in his letter to the Herald of July 12, 2013, in which he denounces “climate change and green energy” as “scams.”  Boyd claims he’s “looking at the big picture,” when he argues against government subsidies to wind farms. That view is decidedly nearsighted, according to the world’s scientific community.  

The costs to counter human-caused global warming are going to be much more, the longer people like Boyd and Congress keep denying the obvious effects on the livability of our planet.  As the Fram Filter man says, “Pay me now, or pay me later.”

Jerry, how’s the climate down there in the sand where your head is stuck?  

Gary Dielman

Baker City

I’m not taking financial advice from the Herald

Being raised in the 1950s the new invention called television became my constant companion and babysitter. I would get up before anyone else in the family just to watch the test pattern. At that time there was a very high moral bar set for television. Most notably in the field of news reporting. Most of the correspondents were well-respected World War II journalists: Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid. These men had hard and fast rules for reporting. Verifying news sources was at the top of the list. It is with this in mind, I’m responding to the recent editorial by the Herald regarding HBC.

At a recent board meeting I inquired as whether the reporter had talked to anyone to verify the facts of the editorial. It was a resounding nay! If the reporter had come to our annual meeting last month he or she would have seen a very well laid out PowerPoint presentation by our president Gene Stackle. At that time we viewed a video that is available on HBC’s web site, regarding the historic downtown of Washington, Mo. The national historic downtown program advocates the partnering of nonprofits to preserve historic buildings just as we did with the Ison House.

In regards to the flippant remark about HBC should have just got a credit card to purchase the Ison House. I would like to remind the editorial board of the Herald that it was this type of cavalier attitude towards financing that caused B of A to revoke their parent company’s line of credit and force it into bankruptcy.

Personally, I’ll take my financial advice from the Wall Street Journal.

Paul Dolan

HBC board member

Baker City

Baker City needs the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally

Another Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally has come and gone. What an amazing weekend for Baker City, especially for downtown. Huge thanks to all the bikers that came and spent the weekend with us. There are still some growing pains with the event, but it’s definitely on the right track. Kudos to the Folkestad brothers and Kurt Miller on the rally side, Kate Dimon from HBC, and Police Chief Lohner.  A gigantic thank you to my wonderful staff at Corner Brick Bar & Grill who made this an unforgettable weekend. Awesome weekend music on Main Street was provided by The Channel Cats, Bite The Hand That Feeds You, Larry Robb Band, and The Rock & Roll Workshop.

Whether you are pro-rally or anti-rally, Baker City needs this event. Every business in Baker benefits from this rally whether it’s in direct sales or after the fact trickle down. Our country is still mired in a deep economic recession. It’s an honor to have the bikers come to our town and spend their hard earned money at our local businesses. Please continue to support the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally.

Joshua DeCarl

Baker City

States might need to split to protect from politics

The left is doing a good job of staying on talking points in the Trayvon Martin case. An innocent young “child” was just walking home and was murdered by an armed racist. This isn’t news. It is gossip. Manufactured news.

Let’s go back a few years to the Clinton administration when Bill was pushing a gun control agenda. Nineteen children die every day from gun violence he assured us. After a little fact checking it was plain to see that those “children” were 19 years old on average and were involved in gang warfare. There is no evidence that Trayvon was a gang member but he was a long ways from an innocent child shot down in cold blood. The evidence does show that he was armed with a pretty good set of fists and was working Zimmerman over pretty good.

So what’s the real story behind this non-story manufactured by the press? It’s a rerun of gun control. Remember that Mr. Obama and the left wing suffered a pretty bad defeat in Congress recently with their gun control agenda. There is no doubt in my mind that when I hear them say things like “we will repeal all stand your ground laws” or when Obama says we have to use the Martin case to reduce gun violence that a cartel of Obama, Soros, Bloomberg and others picked this case because they thought they could come at gun control from another angle. Using the British blockhead, Piers Morgan, is part of the agenda. 

I’m going to play the prophet here and predict that you will hear gun control and race and mentioned in the same sentence many times in the near future. Eventually you will catch on that separation, state partitions, will have to happen if you are going to protect yourself politically from the left. They already caught on to that in Colorado where they just passed a lot of gun control laws. Erin Burnett ran a story about a move to separate in Colorado. Northern Colorado sounds OK to me as does the state of Eastern Oregon.

Steve Culley

Richland


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


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