Nichols is a problem-solver with values Baker County needs

I’m writing this letter to show my support for Bruce Nichols as our next County Commission Chair. I have worked with Bruce over the past few years both on personal business and government business. Bruce is great to work with. He definitely is watching out for the people of Baker County. Bruce and I have been able to come together and solve issues that face not only the city of Baker, but Baker County as a whole. When Baker County 911 was struggling under the leadership of our current County Chair, Bruce Nichols, Mark Bennett, and the City Council came together and worked out a solution for the center and for the people of our county. The center is now under the direction of the County Sheriff Travis Ash, and is running well.

Bruce has an excellent background in finance and I know he will continue to work for us as a community to make sure the county is fiscally responsible and healthy. Bruce has the ethics, integrity, morals and the values we want in our next County Chair. I’m supporting Bruce Nichols as our next Baker County Commission Chair.

Mike Downing

Baker City

Quality of schools is not defined by the age of the buildings

A good school system is not made by spending millions on new buildings while abandoning old buildings.

A good school system is made up of educated, dedicated people. Teachers and administrators, as well as secretaries, janitors, bus drivers.

What will this school bond do for the people of our school system? Maybe the moral support of a new building? Is that enough? Are we doing enough for those that are our “education system?”

Jean Simpson-Geddes

Baker City

New is nice, but schools can be improved for less

I’ve been reading the opinions, and talking to many, on the upcoming school bond. Trying to keep a very candid look on the yes and no options on the measure. I’ve been particularly alarmed by a recently submitted letter by Joan Tracy.

And I quote her exact words: “The individual financial cost serves as a reminder of what is required of every resident to keep Baker City vibrant and healthy.”

I’m 64 years of age, and have a few bond measures behind me. I have served in my country’s military, so as to have an understanding of my freedoms. I know what was required in this country’s military. And I know what is required of me upon my own rational and resolute self. This persuasive wording is not of correct moral and candid content.

A new computer in a remodeled school is just as educationally beneficial as a new computer in a new building.

I’ve read of the students getting cold, and eating in a balcony over the gym. I walked across a snow-covered playground in elementary school to and from some classes. I also had some lunches in converted vacant rooms. I can honestly confess it wasn’t harmful to me physically, or did it harm my academic levels of learning. It was character building, with a lesson in resiliency.

Updating safety and security, and upgrading energy efficiency, may be accomplished with a lot less than $48 million.

Inflicting more debt to citizens of all ages, and future generations deciding to return to Baker City, will not make Baker more vibrant and healthy. Good economics is vibrant and healthy.

I’m not trying to deny the kids of some important needs. I truly do want also the best of both worlds for the upcoming generations, and older generations. I’m just suggesting to try and find a monetary unit, equal and affordable to all. Is that really too much to agree on, and then accomplish? New is nice, but sensibility has its virtuality (a potential existence).

James Schmidt

Baker City

Voting Republican this year vital for Oregon and the nation

Fellow voters, we are blessed to live in Eastern Oregon, specifically Baker County, where we have generally an agriculturally based economy, generally a rural or small city culture, and generally old-fashioned, traditional values. In reflection of these aspects, we need to vote Republican in the upcoming election.

At the national level, this means we need to vote for Greg Walden as our representative. Out of two senators and five representatives in Congress, he is the only Republican in our sadly trending Democrat state. If we don’t vote to keep a conservative perspective, it won’t happen. Maintaining a conservative majority in the U.S. House is vitally important if we want to preserve the positive national momentum. Voting for his opposing candidate is voting to have Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House again. That’s not a nice picture.

At the state level, this means we need to vote for Knute Buehler as our governor. From many years living in Bend I know Knute personally and he is as pleasant, personable and smart as he seems. The same can be said for his wife, Patti. They will make a great team. Knute is open, gracious and willing to help. My son, now a successful PA, job shadowed as a high schooler with Knute and he took the time to provide sound advice. I don’t agree with all of Buehler’s positions, particularly his pro-choice approach and opposition to Ballot Measure 105, but neither candidate is pro-life or in favor of Measure 105 and he’s pretty good on other issues and a significantly better candidate than his opponent. We need to give him the opportunity to lead our state.

At the local level, with two good county commission chair candidates, it seems only logical to vote for Bill Harvey because then we get Bruce Nichols too. Nichols is a very capable commissioner and I like both of them serving. Harvey has an excellent record as chair and having them both is the best solution.

Jim Carnahan

Baker City

Vote no on school bond; don’t pass on debt to the future

How many of you have seen that the Baker School District 5J has put an advertisement for a ‘Request for Proposals “Architectural Services” 2019-2021 Capital Bond Projects’ in the Baker City Herald dated October 10, 2018. The proposals closing date is November 6, 2018. (The proposal is under the heading 1001 Baker County legal notices Page B9.)

Now, if I remember correctly, that is the day we vote whether or not to approve the $48 million bond measure. Isn’t this putting the cart before the horse?

I called Superintendent Witty about this proposal and he said “it is necessary, so that in case the measure is passed, the School District will have the process started.” I said, “why not wait until we see if the measure passes or not, as it is less than a month away.” He said if they waited it may be a year before anything could happen and the cost could go up. All of this for a month. It seems that something is rotten in Denmark.

If the cost goes up, then the $48 million might go up, therefore taxes go up. Why should companies submit proposals if the measure does not pass? It would be a waste of their time and an unnecessary expense for them.

It seems the school district is pushing this measure awfully hard without much thought to what the citizens want. Why do those wanting this measure to pass, want to pass on the debt for two generations of children?

Vote No on the measure for all the adults that don’t want to pass this $48 million debt to their grandchildren and/or great grandchildren!

Penny Rienks

Baker City

Harvey has worked hard for county, deserves 2nd term

The race for county commissioner, who should we elect?

Let’s look at the record. How hard has Bill Harvey been working for us?

Nearly every month for the past two years Bill Harvey has attended city council meetings in our smaller communities such as Halfway, Richland, Sumpter and Haines, in addition to Baker City. If they have a council meeting Bill is there, gathering input, for making county decisions. I don’t know of any other county commissioner in the past who has this kind of work ethic. None.

What about the other two current county board members (including Mr. Nichols who is also running for the county commissioner chair position)? Do they go out to our outlying communities? Not that I know of, but you say that Mr. Harvey is a paid position. That is a true statement but I believe that the other two Commission positions are also paid positions.

In addition, Mr. Harvey worked to upgrade the county 911 call center. He established a board of people who were highly skilled, who had prior 911 service in larger metropolitan areas or were well versed in the telecommunication industry. This was rejected by the existing county board members and moved to the Sheriff’s department under the guise of funding. Mr. Harvey and the Sheriff had the total funding available. However, the City of Baker, who previously turned down Baker County’s proposal, provided the funds to the Sheriff’s office.

The U.S. Forest Service has closed access to a large percentage of area by closing the majority of the access roads. It needs to be noted these roads were built with public funds and a very large portion of Baker County citizenry has taken exception to the closure of our roads. Mr. Harvey, our county commissioner, has traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify at a hearing representing the people of Baker County and the management of their land. Again, to my knowledge, this has not been accomplished by prior county commissioners.

All of the foregoing shows how hard Mr. Harvey has worked and cares for the people of Baker County.

I say re-elect Bill Harvey.

Rob Gentili

Baker City

Report about late county audit raises questions

I have known Bill Harvey for many years and am even related to him so I probably have some bias tendencies toward him and what a great job he has done for Baker County since he was elected in 2014. I follow the paper and find it interesting that there were never any problems worth writing about until Mr. Nichols got elected in 2016 and all of a sudden nothing Bill does is right. “He is too aggressive with the Forest Service.” “He doesn’t give me all of the information I need to make a decision.” “I need more time to think things through.” “I should be paid half time because I thought that is what the position was when I ran for Commissioner.”… on and on it seems to go.

Now I read in the paper that the audit is late and that Bruce Nichols seems to be the commissioner in charge of the decision to use the new out-of-area auditor which sounds like it will cost the county a great deal more than was budgeted for. He states there will probably be some push back from Bill when the final cost is revealed. Is he being transparent or simply doing the right thing and gathering information to present to the other two commissioners? It makes me just ponder what is really going on!

Patricia Reed

Baker City

Walden out of touch with constituents; elect McLeod-Skinner

Greg Walden has veered sharply away from the average Oregonian in this, his tenth term as our U.S. Representative. In a rare, televised debate with challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner on Oct. 5, Walden clearly showed just how out of touch he has become. It’s time for a change.

In the debate, Jamie repeatedly emphasized addressing the widespread poverty in our 2nd Congressional District, but Walden equivocated.

Glibly, and falsely, he bragged about the Trump tax cuts for the already wealthy, saying, “This is a rip-roaring economy. It’s the strongest economy we’ve had since 1969.”

He is apparently unaware that 42 percent of working families in Baker County cannot make ends meet. He doesn’t understand that, starting in the 1970s, we’ve had 40 years of stagnant wages, as computer automation and off-shoring have increasingly robbed working Americans of wage-bargaining power. This phenomenal structural change has handed the billionaire class all the profits from the great productivity gains in the United States since then.

And Walden is taking their side. As Chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, he’s hobnobbing with Republican political elites in league with the extremely wealthy. They’re entranced by their stock market gains and their extravagant after-tax incomes, and they don’t want anybody, especially someone like Jamie McLeod-Skinner, to derail their gravy train.

Likewise, while Jamie warned that we must meet the grave dangers of global warming, including persistent drought and bigger fires, Walden narrowly focused on forest fuel reduction and speeding up the harvest of burned trees.

He showed no awareness of the underlying cause now making fires across the West larger and more intense. He ignored the well-documented fact that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are dangerously heating the planet, and that persistent drought is threatening our agricultural heritage.

We must first recognize major problems that confront us before we can work together to solve them. Real statesmanship and well-grounded leadership is called for.

I urge my fellow readers to stream the hour-long debate at and to vote for Jamie McLeod-Skinner in this crucial election.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

County’s audit issues should be addressed more openly

I am writing in regard to the article “County Late on Audits”which recently appeared in the Baker City Herald. County officials stated, according to the article, “the delay has to do with the county contracting with a different accounting firm to do the audit.” This doesn’t make sense to me as the audit occurs annually and the information should have been prepared regardless of what entity was conducting the audit. Also according to the article, the county stands to lose thousands of dollars because of the tardiness.

Managing the budget is a core responsibility of the commission. Why has this important issue not been addressed during an open session? Citizens need to be fully informed.

Gina Perkins

Baker City

Harvey is an ally for people who enjoy riding ATVs on forest roads

We are retired, and admittedly aging members of the Baker community. We have always enjoyed recreating in the woods. We are now confined to respectfully and carefully enjoying our outdoor experiences on an ATV. During the summers were are joined by, and belong to, a group of retired couples who travel together on the diminishing available roads in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. There are many folks who have physical disabilities or have aged to the point where we have no other option to enjoy the opportunities of a forest journey. If you are reading this letter and not to this point in aging or your physical abilities, some day you will be, and you will treasure the opportunity to enjoy this right.

We have paid to maintain these lands through many years of productive work, and the taxes which have been rendered as a result. A leisurely ride down a forest log or skid road to enjoy the solitude and the sound of a babbling brook in the company of good friends is incomparable, and a soft rubber-tired vehicle does no damage. In fact, it helps keep access roads open to allow fire suppression.

Only one County Commission candidate has been a leader in this important part of retaining everyone’s rights to access public land: Bill Harvey. Let’s keep him in the front lines of this important issue.

Please vote with us on Nov. 6 to re-elect Bill Harvey.

Victor and Linda Tate

Baker City

Nichols has the judgment, skill to best serve county

Bruce Nichols has the character (Webster says, “An individual’s pattern of behavior, self-discipline, reputation, fortitude), honesty (truthful, trustworthy, upright), and skill (knowledge, understanding and judgment) to serve Baker County well as commission chair. It is concerning to us that many of our friends have canceled their subscription to our local newspaper. In doing so we fear that many have NOT taken the time to be informed of the content of city, county, school board and in this case the meetings of our county commissioners. Reading the articles about the content of these meetings gives great insight into the character, integrity, and governing skills of those involved. We support and will vote for Bruce Nichols as Baker County Commission Chair.

Kent and Anita Nelson

Baker City

You have a chance to learn about power line proposal

Imagine a 250-foot scorched earth swath with 150-foot high towers running through the county carrying high-voltage lines that harbor nothing positive for you, only negative impact that will affect your land values, your health, your quality of life and your wallet. Well that’s exactly what Idaho Power’s Boardman to Hemingway project is now offering you. This is part of a 273-mile-long development being railroaded through Baker County and four other counties in Eastern Oregon, orchestrated by Idaho Power, a for-profit corporation who, along with the Bonneville Power Administration and PacificCorp, will be guaranteed 7-percent profit on the project if it gets completed. If this upsets you, then you can find out more at an informational presentation being put on by Idaho Power, the Oregon Dept. of Energy and the Energy Facility Sitting Council. There you hopefully find out from the ODOE and the EFSC: “Why did you let this process get this far? And for Idaho Power, discover things like:

“How come you’re not running it through Idaho State where only Idahoans benefit from it?”

“Why aren’t you running the lines down the energy corridor that was set aside for projects like this?”

“You insist of running your lines in front of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center ruining the viewscape and historical significance, not burying the lines because ‘it is too expensive.’ Well, what’s the expense to us in Baker County having to live with your lines? What’s that going to cost us?”

“And why are you applying for a variance from the allowed 10 percent decibels to 15 percent decibels? When you’ve been dealt your hand playing poker do you suddenly declare one-eyed jacks wild because you are holding both of them?”

If you get lucky you might uncover these evasive answers at Community Connections/ Baker County Senior Center, Oct. 16, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Whit Deschner

Baker City