City to consider renaming airport for fallen soldier

By Terri Harber February 11, 2013 12:19 pm

Army Spc. Mabry J. Anders

By Terri Harber

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Baker City Municipal Airport — also known by its original name of Heilner Field — might be renamed as Mabry J. Anders Field to honor a local man who was killed last August while serving as a U.S. Army Specialist in Afghanistan.

Baker City Councilors will hear about the plan when they meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, 1655 First St.

Anders, 21, and Sgt. Christopher Birdwell of Windsor, Colo. were shot to death on Aug. 27, 2012, by an Afghan National Army soldier in a “green-on-blue” attack in Kala Gush, Afghanistan. 

Both men were assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo. 

The Airport Commission met Jan. 17 to consider the matter. Four of the seven commissioners attended — Josh DeCarl, Terry Schumacher, James Davis and Mark Berthelsen. All of them were in favor of changing the name.

DeCarl proposed the name change to the Airport Commission. 

Anders is the stepson of commissioner Troy Woydziak.

Woydziak and his wife, Anders’ mother, Genevieve, also run Baker Aircraft, the company contracted by the city as the fixed-base operator of the airport.

There were just four commission members voting because Woydziak and Councilor Dennis Dorrah didn’t attend the January commission meeting. And a replacement member for Jake Jacobs hadn’t been named at that point.

City Manager Mike Kee suggests in his written report to the councilors that they “discuss (the proposed name change) and allow for a period of public comment” before making a decision.

He also states that if the councilors decide to change the name of the airport it could “take up to 18 months for the changes to show up on charts, directories and other publications.” 

Kennel permit

Another item on the councilors’ agenda Tuesday is the possible first reading of Ordinance 3317, which would change the current rules about kennel permitting by adding guidelines for “denying, suspending or revoking a permit,” according to Police Chief Wyn Lohner.

People who own more than four dogs or four cats need to obtain a kennel permit.  The Planning Department handled the process, which focused primarily on ensuring the permit holder wasn’t running a pet-related business.

In 2006 neighbors began lodging a variety of complaints against Delma Robinson, who lives in the 1000 block of Park Street. Robinson owns nine dogs, and many of the complaints have been about their barking. 

Police believe the dogs pose a safety hazard to the community, however.  They’ve received reports about her dogs biting people twice. 

Lohner, who created the proposed ordinance, also states that there have been dogs fighting on her property and that one incident resulted in the need for veterinary service.

Robinson was denied a kennel license by the city and called to Baker County Justice Court in December. 

Justice of the Peace Damien Yervasi told Robinson she had until mid-May to either get rid of five of the dogs or get another kennel license — otherwise she’d have to pay a fine of $300.

Robinson, whose husband, Tim, died earlier this year, has said the dogs mean everything to her.

“When the weather will let me I’ll put steel panels a couple feet inside my fence so a dog can’t get near the fence. My dogs don’t bark all the time; they get excited when I’m leaving, cleaning the yard or go to the garbage can,” she wrote in a letter published in the Baker City Herald on Jan. 11. 

The proposed changes in Ordinance 3317 include providing the city with “a timely effective way of addressing issues involving kennel permit licensees who are unable to properly manage their animals,” Lohner wrote. 

Only two kennel permits have been issued by the city this year. Five were issued in 2012 — the highest number since the permits started being issued in 2006. And 2012 also was the year when city officials received the highest number of complaints about dogs — also five, Lohner’s report also states. 

Also on the agenda

• Historic Baker City Inc. (HBC) is asking the city to stop taking its administrative fee for collecting business license fees and property assessments within the downtown historic district.

The organization, which promotes activities in the city’s historic downtown district, wants the 6.5 percent, about $2,600, for its own operations. It costs the city more than $2,800 to collect the payments, which make up the majority of HBC’s budget.

• The Fire Department wants to remount its 1997 ambulance on a new chassis instead of buying another vehicle. The councilors are being asked to approve the low bid for the work by Arrow Manufacturing of nearly $115,000. It’s $9,900 higher than the original budgeted amount but the cost is being offset by a Leo Adler grant for $30,000. 

• An executive session begins at 6:30 p.m. for the councilors to consider labor negotiations. This portion of the meeting is closed to the public and media, as allowed by Oregon’s public meetings law. Councilors can’t make any decisions, however.