By Chris Collins
Baker City Police were out in full force over the weekend, prepared to respond to any problems that might arise in association with the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally.
And while officers were kept busy Friday through Sunday, most of the incidents they were called to did not involve any of the thousands of visitors in town for the annual rally, Police Chief Wyn Lohner said today.
He said instead it was Baker-area residents who required police attention.
The crimes were related to the rally to a certain extent, because they might not have taken place had the rally not been happening, Lohner said.
But rally participants were not involved in the incidents.
"Some of our local individuals get overstimulated by activities we have going on periodically such as the Miners Jubilee and the Motorcycle Rally," Lohner said.
For example, police were called to the 1700 block of Main Street at 3:07 a.m. Sunday on a report that a man had attempted to enter a vendor's tent.
Police arrested Joshua Milton Thomas, 22, of 1560 Indiana Ave., No. 210, on a charge of second-degree trespassing in connection with the incident.
And Bethany Lynn Micka, 29, of La Grande, was charged with first-degree criminal trespassing after she was found asleep in the apartment of Dan Johnk, of 1635 Fourth St. Lohner said Micka allegedly was overserved alcohol at the beer garden at the Sunridge Inn and had entered the wrong home after leaving the event. The overserving allegation will be turned over to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, he said.
Two other people were charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing in separate incidents.
Police arrested Erika Moira Stimson, 26, of 1615 Auburn Ave., at 11:32 p.m. Saturday at the Sunridge. Joshua Steven Justus, 23, of 2017 Seventh St., No. 3, was arrested at 12:25 a.m. Sunday in the 1900 block of Main Street.
The closure of Main Street during the event helped maintain the safety of riders and pedestrians, Lohner said, although more fine-tuning will be required in an attempt to satisfy vendors, merchants and motorcyclists.
"It's a balancing act with safety and trying to make everybody happy," he said.
The number of riders was down this year because of the cold, wet weather. That might be the final straw that pushes organizers to move the event to later in the summer, Lohner said.
Steve and Eric Folkestad, the brothers who organize the rally, said this morning that they are in preliminary negotiations with the city to move the event to a date later in the summer, but that would not conflict with other scheduled activities.
"We'd like to guarantee our riders better weather," Steve said. "Or at least improve the odds."
And despite the weather and several last-minute cancellations, the brothers said this year's event turned out "really well," with about 3,500 to 4,000 people participating in one way or another.
Eric added that the downtown bike show was a success, along with this year's new event, the "Kick Start Party" Friday night, which filled the Bull Ridge Brewpub.
They expressed sadness over the fatal crash in Hells Canyon, noting that their goal is for everyone to make it home safely.
The two men noted with pride the direct contributions the rally makes to the community each year.
Baker High School traditionally hosts camp sites on the BHS grounds. The men turned over $3,500 to principal Jerry Peacock for the benefit of the high school athletics programs after this year's rally.
Another $720 was raised for the continued care of Turbo, the Baker City Police Department's drug-detection dog. That money came from vendors who set up at Ride Central at the Sunridge. The vendors, who are given free space to sell their goods at that site, are asked in return to contribute to Turbo.